The ‘Requirements Management’ process underpins top-rate enterprise software delivery as it ensures your customers consistently receive value from their software applications. Or in other words, they receive the product/product features they asked for that will hopefully fulfill their business needs. That’s what software delivery at scale is all about, right?
With that in mind, it makes sense that all the teams and tools that oversee the Requirements Management process are working together. For Tasktop (and typically many of our customers), that means that the Sales/Delivery teams should be collaborating with Product Owners, Business Analysts and Agile Developers, among others, to create a seamless value stream from feature request to feature in production delivering value for the end user.
In short, we want our ‘customer-facing’ folk who capture the request and understand what the customer wants to be working with the ‘production-side’ folk to make sure the right product is being built and delivered on time. While this objective seems simple enough, it’s actually rather tricky in reality.
Before we integrated Salesforce and Targetprocess, these two “sides” within our business were working in silos because both teams work in their own purpose-built tools, and these tools do not naturally speak to each other. Meaning a lot of time is lost to the non-value-adding world of manual communications and administrivia. Even worse, the difficult communication resulted in a lot of misunderstanding and pitted the teams against each other.
Our Sales and Delivery teams primarily work in Salesforce, the leading CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution in the market. Using this tool, we’re able to capture and nurture leads, track accounts and customer requests, identify opportunities and problems, and more. The system serves as the prime link between the business and the customer, with our customer service teams enhancing the quality and speed of communications between the two.
Meanwhile, Product Owners and some of our Business Analysts operate in Targetprocess, a leading Agile Project Management tool. Here, they can manage the constant and competing barrage of priorities that they deal with on a daily basis; balancing the need to reduce technical debt, drive innovative feature creation, reduce defects, and define customer requests in great detail. This tool enables work to be undertaken using different workflows and methodologies, track requirements and acceptance criteria, visualize the product backlog for Agile work, and develop an efficient process to prioritize the most important work (critical product features etc.).
Both Salesforce and Targetprocess are two powerful tools that enhance the way both ‘sides’ work. Frustratingly, these teams were unable to spend as much time in their tool of choice as they would like to (or collaborate with colleagues effectively), because they’re trapped in what in what we call “communications chaos.”
With no automated flow of information between the two tools, everyone involved was getting overwhelmed by a bombardment of emails and other unreliable forms of communication. No one wants to regularly check or read email threads, or search for attachments, or make endless phone calls, or wait for mind-numbing status meetings, or log into multiple tools just to have an idea of what’s going on.
All these means of communicating are tedious and susceptible to human error and, crucially, build animosity between teams. No-one is winning in that scenario – especially the customer! And as with any process, you simply must have end-to-end visibility to control and continuously improve it. And that’s not possible if the tools are not automatically flowing information between each other and the rest of the software value stream. We wanted to tear this wall down and banish the idea of “sides”. We wanted to be one complete team. One whole.
Last but not least, you mustn’t forget that your communications will only become more chaotic as your business grows – more teams and more tools aiming to share vital information (including requirements) that are vulnerable to falling down the black hole. With deadlines missed and projects failing, addressing this communications issue is a determining factor in how successful you will be at scaling your software delivery.
With the objective defined – i.e. allowing key players within the software value stream to work together by integrating their tools of choice, consequently eradicating manual communication, increasing product accuracy and speed of delivery – Tasktop set about connecting Salesforce and Targetprocess.
We are able to use Tasktop Integration Hub to easily connect the two tools (from a technical standpoint) and maintain the integrations in the face of vendor updates, API changes, tool downtime etc. via our testing infrastructure ‘The Integration Factory’. But simply connecting the two tools isn’t the difficult part – that’s child’s play. The tricky bit is reengineering the process, which demands a lot of time and energy that most organizations just don’t have.
To build a strong, sophisticated integration, you have to understand user workflows and use cases, how people think and work, and provide scope for adaptation and evolution. Fortunately, we’re blessed with a lot of experts at Tasktop who can build and maintain technology that is based on the core needs of practitioners, as well as a deep understanding of human behavior.
This user-focus approach is crucial because 80 per cent of the heavy-lifting is manufacturing a process – getting inside people’s heads, obtaining semantic alignment between teams, obtaining an end-to-end understanding of issues, role idiosyncrasies and so forth. And of course, how requests flow across the value stream to ensure the net is tight and non-porous to ensure that nothing is lost to interpretation, misunderstanding or oversight.
The key benefits that Tasktop has enjoyed so far from integrating Salesforce and Targetprocess include:
- Sales and Delivery teams are able to stay within Salesforce
- Product Owners, Business Analysts, Agile Developers etc. able to stay within Targetprocess
- Automated flow of project-critical information (artifacts such as requests) between tools
- End-to-end visibility across the value stream
- Real-time updates to a source of record
- New data to inform/influence reports for informed decision-making
We call the marriage of Salesforce and Targetprocess the ‘first-mile of integration’ because it’s just the beginning on our path to nirvana. Enterprise-scale software delivery is a continuously evolving and developing process that should integrate the whole software value stream, both in terms of improving collaboration between key practitioners, and aligning the software delivery process with the wider business, creating that all-important ‘whole’.
From sales to the service desk to management and executive level personnel, software delivery must be tied closely to your business objectives. Everyone should be informed and aware of how software can drive significant revenues, consequently creating a system and culture where better business-critical decisions can be made to help your organization thrive in a digital world. For this, you need measurement, and the only way you can measure a process is by obtaining metrics from the whole process. You cannot do this with a disconnected toolchain.
Speak to us today if you want to learn more about how to connect Salesforce and Targetprocess, as well as integrating all other best-of-breed tools in your software value stream that enable you to plan, build and deliver better software, faster.
See below a short introduction to Tasktop’s unique Value Stream Integration approach: