I recently came across blossom.io; a slick, simple but powerful project management tool for companies and startups adhering to lean and agile methods. The blossom.io application gives its users the ability to use virtual ‘kanban boards’ for project collaboration, ensuring that each member of your team is aware of the progress of each project that is taking place within your startup or organisation. This is a great tool that helps achieve enhanced productivity within teams that practiselean and agile methods. It is based on a scheduling method that was popularized by Japan’s Taiichi Onho.
Following is a review of all the features that blossom.io provides:
1) Adding a project
The first thing that stands out about blossom.io is its slick and minimalist interface. After you sign up for their service, you (and your team members) are immediately prompted to add a project:
Clicking on“Add Project “leads to the following screen:
Any member of your team can manage multiple projects using blossom.io at any given time and can invite collaborators to his or her project(s). For this review, let us name our project “My first Blossom IO Project”, which is a hypothetical e-commerce website:
2) Adding new stages
By default, blossom.io has four “stages”, which represent the process that each task has to go throughin order to complete your project. This interface is a virtual ‘kanban board’, allowing you and your team to quickly figure out which “kanban” – or cards – are present in each stage. You can easily add more stages or edit/remove the existing ones, according to your requirements. For instance, let us say that our team likes to brainstorm each proposal before assigning anyone to work on it. In this case, we will have to add a brainstorm stage after the proposal stage, which can be done with ease using blossom.io’s user-friendly interface. We just have to click on the appropriate columnand click on “Add a new Stage”:
Entering the name of the stage gives us the following screen:
Now we have five stages instead of the default four!
3) Adding features
Each “kanban card” is simply called a feature within blossom.io. These features can be easily added using the text input box below the project title. For our e-commerce website, let us add a “Website Plan” card:
We now have our first feature showing up in the Proposal stage!
4) Adding checklists to features
Each feature or kanban card can be clicked to add a detailed checklist of things that need to be done in order to carry out that task. This is very useful as it allows users of blossom.io to zoom in further over eachfeature, giving them the power to break down tasks in as much detail as they require.In an agile environment, this allowsus to break down each user story or ticket into further detail using a checklist of items.Here, wealso have the ability to cross off completed items in the same manner as we would do on a normal to-do list.
Let us add a checklistto our hypothetical project. Clicking on the “Website Plan” card opens a window in which we can enter items in the checklist related to Website Plan. We can also set due dates, mark any card as “blocked” (if the work on it has stopped for any reason) and add any further comments related to this card.
Entering two items (site map and preliminary content writing) on the checklist gives us the following screen:
5) Moving features between stages
It isalso very easy to move cards or features between stages using blossom.io’s slick interface. We just have to select, drag and drop the required card into the appropriate stage. In the screen below, you can see that more cards have been added and the “Website Plan” card is being moved into the Brainstorm stage:
6) Setting WIP limits
A lean scheduling system requires setting up of ‘Work in Process’ (WIP) limits to keep track of the workload at any given stage, in order to avoid bottlenecks. In blossom.io, you can easily set WIP limits by clicking the appropriate stage and then selecting your required limit using the drop-down listnext to ‘Work In Progress Limit’. This is shown in the following screenshot:
For our website, let us assume that the WIP limits for our ‘Brainstorm’, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Validate’ stages are three, four and four, respectively. After setting all the WIP limits, our ‘Virtual Kanban Board’ looks like this:
Once any card is moved to the last stage, it is marked “Approved”, signaling the end of that task. Users also have the ability to block any card, which is marked as “Blocked”, as previously discussed. These features are shown in the final screenshot of our example for this review:
7) Final Thoughts
Blossom.io provides its users with a slick, user-friendly and powerful interface for their lean project management requirements. This application is particularly useful for companies who follow agile practices in their software development, as each user story or ticket can easily be represented by a ‘Virtual Kanban Card’ with detailed checklists. By using this tool, each member in an agile team has the ability to share his or her progress with other team members, making it easier to collaborate, track and monitor projects in a lean startup or organisation.