Kanbanize and DAP

It is easy to forget that, in a second, what we have built and what we aim for may literally crumble beneath our feet. Disasters, natural and man-made, occur every day across the globe and the damage they end up causing is not simply material. The majority of people do not know how to react when things take a turn for the worse and need assistance in order to get through a crisis of such degree.

At Kanbanize, we admire organizations and individuals who dare to make a difference and devote themselves to helping others.

Disaster Accountability Project does all in its power to save lives and reduce suffering after disasters by maximizing the impact of preparedness, response and relief through citizen oversight and engagement, policy research and advocacy, and public education.

DAP is a leading nonprofit organization providing long-term independent oversight of disaster management systems. The organization engages a dedicated community to advance policy research and advocacy, promotes transparency, and encourages the public to participate in oversight, community-based organizing, and discussions about disaster preparedness and relief.

DAP believes that dedicated citizen oversight is necessary to ensure resources dedicated to preparedness, relief, and recovery are effectively utilized, communities are sufficiently engaged and more resilient, and the best practices and lessons learned are implemented so mistakes are not repeated.

The organization was formed in 2007, after the Executive Director Ben Smilowitz witnessed the damage caused by hurricane Katrina. He felt that there is a need for an organization to demand public accountability and provide an open line or platform for survivors, emergency workers, and volunteers to report gaps during disasters.

Before the creation of the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP), there was no dedicated, independent oversight of the agencies and organizations responsible for these critical life-saving responsibilities.

The organization takes on a high level of responsibility and their efficiency is often measured by the number of people that benefit from more effective disaster preparedness, response, relief and recovery on a global scale. Disaster Accountability Project chose Kanbanize to structure their workflow and, after years of using the tool, shared with us how they do it.

1.How do you utilize Kanbanize?

We have a global team of volunteers building SmartResponse, an online platform that will improve effectiveness, transparency and accountability in disaster relief and humanitarian aid worldwide.  We use Kanbanize to manage the tasks in the build. Nearly 25 volunteers from as many as ten time zones are now using Kanbanize to collaborate, selecting tasks from the “Requested” column and ultimately moving them to “Done” when their code is merged to the master repository.  Kanbanize helps us keep the project moving and it keeps our volunteers engaged.  

2.How did you visualize your work processes prior to adopting the Kanban method?

Prior to adopting Kanbanize, we didn’t have a way to fully simultaneously engage this many volunteers.  Kanbanize was a game-changer for us!

3.Can you describe one of your boards?

Currently, we use the classic structure for a Kanban board with one column for each of the three sections for visualization of the card flow: “Requested” – “In Progress” – “Done”.

DAP Corrected

When a volunteer indicates they are closer to finishing a task, we move it to the top of the “In Progress” list.  Similarly, when we have a high priority task, we move it to the top of “Requested.”  It’s a simple process but it works for us.

We use the task cards to ask questions by “mentioning” (or essentially tagging) team members.  They, then get notifications that they’ve been “tagged” on a card and they’ll go to the card and clarify a point or explain a task in greater detail.

4. What features do you find most useful?

We use the @mentions a lot, as a I said – it’s one of those collaboration and usability hacks we’ve found works well for making sure people are in the loop. Most of our files are in the Attachments section of our cards, so it’s handy that we can attach from a number of different sources. Our team also enjoys the aesthetic of the Kanban board, in terms of the ability to customize its appearance to suit your process as well as your personal tastes.

We hope with Kanbanize, Ben and his organization will continue to improve their efficiency, be as productive  as their goals demand and organized enough to have more time and focus for their cause.

Happy Kanbanizing!

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