by John Reeve
Published on 17 December 2014
The holiday tradition of sending out client gifts makes the season one of the most profitable for online businesses fulfilling the orders. This holiday tale is about one such business, a bakery, that wanted to increase corporate web sales by offering a more personalized experience, and how they used the Intervals Kanban board to make it happen.
Market research revealed that targeting business customers, who order larger quantities, would increase their revenue. But, to attract these customers they would need to develop an online tool for making simple customizations to the holiday card accompanying the order - small personal touches such as a custom logo, design, and messaging. Now all the bakery had to do was build it.
Developing this new feature was going to require a seamless collaboration between web designers and web developers. They had already decided on using Intervals to manage the project, and its Kanban board feature, providing a high level view of the project, was the obvious choice for keeping the entire team on the same page.
A Kanban board example using sticky notes and colored pens Photo credit: Dennis Hamilton
Kanban was created by Toyota in the 1950s to help control the logistical chain in a production system. In other words, it helped Toyota become more efficient at manufacturing automobiles. The Kanban process uses cards, which are moved around on a board, to visually illustrate inventory moving through the production facility.
More recently, Kanban has seen a revival among web developers. A white board, a few pens, and sticky notes are assembled into a Kanban board for tracking development projects. While they are effective, they lack the flexibility and centrality of an online Kanban board.
The Intervals Kanban board, and others like it, are entirely web-based. They provide a high level interactive overview of a project by grouping its tasks into columns representing status. As the task status changes, it is moved from one column to the next.
The designers and developers began by breaking down the project into smaller deliverables - everything from the login screen design to the print preview backend code. They created a task for each one, assigning them to the team member doing the work, then jumped in and got started.
The Kanban board became the centerpiece for the status meeting that began each morning. It provided a high level view of project progress and individual responsibilities, advising the team on how to make the most of each day while still making the deadline.
As each task progressed, it would move toward the opposite end of the Kanban board. It's arrival in the far-right column signaled the completion of the task. The goal of the daily meetings was to keep the tasks moving. For example, a task stuck in the "Needs Review" column could be started back up following a quick peer review of the current design. And, a task in the "Completed" column could begin undergoing QA ahead of schedule.
Web site project plans are never set in stone. The product being developed fluctuates daily as the design and code merge toward a completed project. It's just the nature of the technology and trends driving the web today. However, this team did not shy away from the challenge. The project as viewed on the Intervals Kanban board
The Kanban board enabled the project plan to be fluid and empowered the team to incorporate fluctuations before they became problematic. The ability to see the entire project at once, while still focusing on the individual moving parts, made the Kanban board one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal.
The design and development team was able to get the feature launched well before the holiday rush. Customers responded immediately with positive feedback, sharing how much they appreciated the ability to design, write, and preview a custom personal greeting to accompany the gift. Their appreciation wasn't limited to just words. The bakery saw a 20% increase in business sales in the first few days of launching the feature.