This article was written by Ali Hugo, UX and UI Designer at OpenCraft.
Listaflow is a new open source tool being built by our team here at OpenCraft. Although it is still in its early stages, Listaflow is already being put to good use by the Open edX community.
In this post, I’ll give a brief overview of:
- The Story Behind Listaflow
- Listaflow’s Current Feature List
- How Listaflow is being used by the Open edX community
The Story Behind Listaflow
OpenCraft is a remote company, with team members based all over the world – from Adelaide, to Vancouver. Needless to say, real-time meetings are not an option for us. We need to make sure our team members are on the same page, even though they’re on different continents.
Enter Listaflow, the open source workflow tool for remote team collaboration, and reporting.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
Well, it really depends on what's important to your organization. At OpenCraft, we are passionate about open source (in fact, we contribute the majority of the code we write to the public version of the Open edX® learning platform). So, although tools like monday.com are fantastic, many of them are closed source, and whenever presented with the option of closed vs open source software, open source wins every time!
Additionally, many of the products on offer didn’t have the features we were looking for. Not only did we need an asynchronous way to plan our development sprints, but we also wanted to give the whole team an overview of how everyone else’s sprint was going (without needing to contact them and potentially interrupt their focus). Very few services checked all the boxes, and the few that did, were all proprietary. We soon realized that, if we wanted an open source tool with everything we need to manage our remote team, we would have to build it ourselves.
And so the idea of Listaflow was born. We were thrilled! By building our own tool, we are no longer subject to decisions made by external teams. We can also guide the direction of Listaflow, and adjust our efforts based on actual user feedback. By following a “user first” approach, we aim to create a first-class user experience for our users.
Listaflow’s Current Feature List
Listaflow is still in its early stages and we expect its feature list to evolve over time. We want to keep things agile, and allow the tool to evolve alongside the needs of our users. For now though, here is a quick summary of the features we are working on:
- Custom templates: organizations can create their own workflow templates and customize them to their team’s specific needs.
- Flexible scheduling: users can choose to create both one-off, or recurring workflows to share with their team.
- User-friendly checklists: team members can keep track of their tasks with checklists. They can also view other users’ checklists to get an idea of the progress of their team as a whole.
- Team check-ins: check-ins help to determine what went well during a sprint, what went poorly, and how team members felt about their work.
- Reminders: users can add reminders to workflows to help keep everyone on track, and help lay the groundwork for successful sprints.
- Detailed reports: users can generate reports for a particular checklist, check-in, or team, for a detailed overview of how things are going.
How Listaflow is being used by the Open edX community
OpenCraft started contributing to the Open edX platform all the way back in 2013. Over the years, we’ve made thousands of code contributions, and have become an important part of the Open edX community.
One of the many Open edX projects we are involved in, is the Core Contributor Program. The idea behind the program is to entrust specific members of the Open edX Community with advancing the development and adoption of the platform.
When Friday (the tool that the Core Contributors were using for their asynchronous sprint check-ins), announced that they were closing shop, we knew we needed a reliable alternative. Listaflow was the obvious choice - not only was it already in development, but it only required a few tweaks before it could effectively fill Friday’s shoes! What’s more, many of the people working on Listaflow were Core Contributors themselves, so already understood the process and what was needed. The rest is history. The Core Contributors became the first Open edX team to start using Listaflow, closely followed by the Marketing Working Group.
Today, both of these teams use Listaflow for their end-of-sprint check-ins. This is how it works: towards the end of the sprint, each team member receives an email encouraging them to complete their sprint check-in. The check-in is a quick and simple questionnaire asking a few questions about the previous sprint. It includes things like, “What did you accomplish during the previous sprint?”, and, “Is there anything where you could use help from others?”. Team members can choose to go into as much, or as little detail as they like, and most of the questions are optional.
Even if team members choose to answer only the required questions, Listaflow can still generate meaningful reports of the responses. Reports take all of the feedback received from the check-ins, collate it, and transform it into an easy-to-digest visual representation of a team's responses. They are a great way to get an overview of how the sprint went, and to identify any pain points or action items. What’s more, reports are also filterable and downloadable, giving users the ability to generate reports that suit their specific needs, and save them for their records, or share them with people who may not have a Listaflow account.
With two Open edX teams actively using Listaflow, we are getting a lot of priceless user feedback. This is helping us to make incremental improvements, all based on real feedback from real users. The next step? Continue to onboard more and more teams within the Open edX community, and expand outward from there. Once Listaflow is working like a well-oiled machine within the Open edX Community, we plan to open it up to external teams, allowing us to tap into the needs of remote teams worldwide.
So, there you have it - the first chapter of the Listaflow story. Although we don’t know exactly what’s in store for the rest of the tale, we do know that Listaflow users will be the protagonists. They will guide our decisions and steer our feature list. In return, we hope to provide them with a fantastic tool - a tool that gives them the peace of mind that everything is organized and accounted for, so that they can focus their energy on the right things at the right time.
Featured Image PSD Mockup by Pixeden