Kaizen, coming from Japanese (KAI = Change, ZEN = Good), is an e-portfolio system that powers learners to track their progress throughout their career and collaborate with others through a proved regular and continual feedback system. It is a web application that runs on any device.
Kaizen is being developed and maintained by Fry-it and is currently being used by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as well as the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics in the U.K.
From the get-go, the Kaizen system needed to be flexible enough in order to fit different market requirements, even though the primary target was the medical sector in the U.K. Teachers, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, but also university students can use Kaizen to track their progress at various stages in their professional career. Naturally, the different markets have different needs, so it has been, and still is, a real challenge to create a product configurable enough to fit those needs, but simple enough to not be a challenge to use and set up.
My initial contact with Kaizen has naturally been design. We’ve gone through various options and discussed with different user groups in the medical sector from the U.K. about what an e-portfolio system should do and how it should look like. I went from wireframes, to mockups to a working prototype that was demoed to several user groups. Interestingly enough, the tech stack that I chose for the prototype, involving a single page application with AngularJS and the in-browser database PouchDB, ended up being the basis for the real product launched one year after the prototype gathered all but positive feedback.
I’ve stayed on board after the prototype and throughout the product development stage as the design lead and the “Angular guy.” After the launch, I have taken a step back and continued on as the design lead and the occasional front-end developer.
From the initial prototype of AngularJS and PouchDB, I’ve witnessed Kaizen growing to include several interesting technologies such as CouchDB (a natural companion for PouchDB) for the server-side database, Ansible for server provisioning, Celery for task running, or Docker for local development. It has been a ride and I couldn’t be more thankful that I am part of it.
I think though that Kaizen has a long way to go. It is still in its infancy. I am still spending most of my time with it doing mockups and talking to users, getting their feedback and re-iterating. It is still experiencing some performance issues, which we are hopeful can be addressed through hard work and technologies like service workers, code splitting and server side rendering.
You can read more about Kaizen here.