To help people deliver software just a little bit better – the next chapter

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I was told by a wise man that to succeed in life you need a mission, and mine is ‘‘to help people deliver software a little bit better.’ A simple mission that has taken me from product management at Rational Software, leading a consulting business at Ivar Jacobson Consulting, to my VP and RD role Forrester Research and now as chief product officer Tasktop. This journey has taught me many things about software delivery which can be distilled into four main tenets:

  • Autonomy – Empowered individuals and teams to solve problems and get things done.
  • Transparency – Success is enabled by clear understanding of status and progress.
  • Collaboration – Software delivery is a team sport requiring flow between managers and fans.
  • Adaptability – Flexible, Agile processes enable teams to succeed.

By focusing on these four areas software delivery professionals can not only create a much more efficient delivery value stream, but also more importantly deliver increased business value. However these concepts are not easy and some of the challenges include :

Autonomy After years of corporate control and traditional manufacturing approaches being applied to knowledge workers organizations have a really hard time allowing individuals to take control of their actions. Accountable yes, but able to make choices about how they do their work, or the tools and techniques they use, no way ! But increasingly we see developers taking control of their destiny. In part this is because the rate of innovation has outstripped the speed of corporate control groups, and developers are pivotal to business value and innovation.

 

Transparency Separate tools, different processes, disconnected departments, and outsourced vendors all add to the complexity of trying to build a complete picture. Many organizations look to the PMO to solve this problem, spending lots of time, and money trying to compile a view of the truth. But the PMO approach is less and less likely to work with the increased cadence of software delivery where status changes frequently.

 

Collaboration Many companies talk a good talk about teams, but the reality is that software delivery pro’s are measured as individuals, in multiple teams and have contradicting priorities. That makes collaboration difficult for teams, and even harder for external stakeholders who find interfacing with these ever changing entities complex and frustrating.Complex value streams just add to the mess.

 

Adaptability The only time you know how to do something is when you have done it before. But most software development processes focus on sequential flow, assuming that if you spend enough time up front and apply the right techniques you can solve any problem. Agile has proven that this is not the case and has become the defacto standard for development. But the reality of is water-scrum-fall with development teams using Agile, but management and release requiring teams to still deliver in a sequential manner.

 

So, i hear you ask, what does this all do with my move to Tasktop.. In a word Tasktop provides the glue that enables organizations to realize these four tenets :-

  • Autonomy – Allowing individuals to use the best tools to do their job whilst ensuring those tools work together.
  • Transparency – Connecting repositories to enable one view of the truth.
  • Collaboration – Tasks enable structure, conversation and context.
  • Adaptability – Support customization of tools and flexible processes.

Modern web architectures, restful interfaces and open source development tools have created the perfect storm for building a stateless integration hub that integrates the value stream of software delivery.

My job at Tasktop is to drive the product vision in support of the four tenets. But i can not do this alone and will be working with you all, the tool vendors and the broader community to ‘help people deliver software just a little bit better’ 🙂

Dave