I am thrilled to announce that Sumeru Equity Partners (SEP), a growth-focused investment firm, is leading a $100 million strategic investment in Tasktop. Elsewhere Partners and Yaletown Partners, who have been a key part of our journey to date, are also participating. This investment builds on our market leadership in Value Stream Management (VSM) and will accelerate the growth and innovation that is fueling the success of our customers and partners. As part of the transaction, I am also excited to welcome Jason Babcoke and George Kadifa to our board of directors, as their track record and reputation speak for themselves. Read on for more of the story and what it means to the future of VSM and digital transformation.
Tasktop’s VSM platform is already a critical part of some of the world’s most successful digital transformations, including BMW, CGI, T-Mobile and E*Trade. The need to measure outcomes and business value for software development, and the shift from Project to Product, require the deployment of a scalable and turnkey VSM solution. I’m delighted that this investment will bring the transformational impact of our platform to many more organizations. Some organizations have moved quickly to become digital innovators, while others have been slower to see the signs. To illustrate the point, consider this one-on-one conversation that I had with the global CIO of a large financial services company a couple of years ago:
CIO: “We have stepped up our Agile transformation efforts to get to 100% Agile by the end of year, and have a large DevOps and cloud transformation happening as well.”
Me: “How is it going?”
CIO: “I wish I could give a definitive answer. It seems similar to what we did at my last company, where two years of transformation passed and little seemed to improve much from the point of view of our key business metrics. My team has told me that we have done everything right with funding the transformation office, acquiring the leading Agile and DevOps tools, and brought in top consultants and coaches. The investment has been very substantial. But the business is still waiting to see the results.”
Me: “So where is your bottleneck? How are you measuring your transformation to ensure you are accelerating the flow of value to your customers?”
CIO: “I hear that the bottleneck is in our legacy systems, or our needing more developers, or issues with our culture. To be frank I’m not entirely sure. We are not measuring flow. I do know some of my team are implementing metrics in a data lake and should have something to show to leadership when the transformation is further along.”
Two years later this company still has no meaningful visibility into whether its capacity to deliver value through technology accelerated or declined as a result of the transformation. Throughout this period, the development teams had been overloaded by all the changes and outsized backlogs. Bottlenecks from internal processes and a dated software architecture severely affected morale. Culture was blamed for the lack of results. However, value stream capacity was never clearly understood, flow was never measured end-to-end and culture never had a chance once change fatigue set in. Top technology talent left for faster-moving competitors, and to this day the company continues to struggle to show any meaningful progress on technology innovation to its leadership and board.
In contrast, consider the following conversation that I had in the same timeframe with the CEO of a large manufacturing organization. This company was undergoing a digital transformation to augment its hardware products with digital offerings and was committed to creating a digital platform.
CEO: “I started my career walking the shop floor. Not only could I see delivery, I could work with my leadership teams to identify waste. We had some amazing meetings where we solved those problems together, and I was able to help allocate resources to the bottleneck. And then look for the next bottleneck. We would measure time to market improvements daily. We made the work of people on the shop floor easier and better, while we pulled ahead of our competition by bringing more product and innovation to market. That is what I want for our digital transformation.”
Me: “That sounds amazing. But how were you able to sustain this practice of getting actionable visibility by walking the shop floor as your manufacturing scaled up?”
CEO: “I kept doing the visits to the plant. But that’s not quite how we got visibility at scale. What I led was an initiative to define all of our manufacturing value streams from a customer perspective, and then brought in a platform that allowed us to manage our supply chain and lines, and continually measure flow. That’s the kind of visibility that I want for me and my software teams. How do I get that?”
Me: “You already know how to do it. But for software development, the answer is not ERP or supply chain management software, as it is not materials and resources that we’re managing. We need to optimize the flow of teams doing creative work. The solution you are looking for is something that we are calling Value Stream Management.”
Reflecting on these two conversations today, the financial services organization is no better off than they were two years ago. They deployed great tools for the various teams and specialists, but never invested in anything other than in-house and ad-hoc attempts at VSM. They have learned that when senior sponsorship is lacking for VSM, your value streams manage you.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing organization is now operating as a technology company and out-innovating its competition. The fundamental difference is that a senior executive realized that they needed a VSM solution as part of their transformation, sponsored proving out that solution, then scaled it. This is in stark contrast to trying to solve the problem with the same approach that created it, i.e., disparate-best of breed tools, each of which sees only a slice of the value stream. You can’t change the system from within the system. An impartial, end-to-end and scalable VSM solution is a critical component of every transformation.
As the pioneering vendor behind VSM, I’m thrilled that Tasktop has been driving these outcomes for the world’s leading digital transformations. A recent Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) report on Tasktop Viz™ summarized how quick and how profound these gains are for our customers. Since the start of the pandemic, this has been particularly meaningful to me as we have helped organizations to adapt more quickly to rapid change, for example helping TUI shift to product and cloud while their entire travel operations were disrupted and emerge as an exemplary technology company on the other side.
The pace at which we have helped companies thrive in the past year has also resulted in over 50% growth of Tasktop’s core business, driving further validation of the VSM category. Moreover Tasktop is the only company recognized as a leader in all three analyst reports from Forrester, GigaOM and Research In Action. Tasktop is also the only pure-play VSM vendor that allows you to use all of your Agile, DevOps, ITSM and cloud tools and platforms of choice.
With our industry-leading VSM platform maturing so significantly in the hands of very large customers over the past two years, it is now time to bring these transformational benefits to more organizations. Sumeru’s financing and support will help us deliver the platform to the rapidly growing number of organizations who now realize how key a scalable and easy-to-deploy VSM solution is to their success. Sumeru’s track record of helping companies dominate their categories speaks for itself, and their focus on product and innovation provides a great alignment with Tasktop’s DNA.
I am particularly excited by the two partners who will be joining Tasktop’s board, as each has made a major mark on software. George Kadifa is someone I have known for nearly a decade, having met him when he was EVP of HP. Having partnered with him and his team when he was leading HP Software, I was continually impressed with his product and customer focus. Our discussions started shortly after George read Project to Product cover to cover. Jason Babcoke will also join our board and brings tremendous experience at the intersection of entrepreneurship and engineering. He holds a Masters in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford, an MBA from Harvard, was a Director of Engineering at a nano-deposition tech company, before becoming an investor who then helped bring companies like Talend and BlackLine to IPO. I could not be more thrilled that they will be joining us on the mission of helping companies survive and thrive in the Age of Software.
What this investment means is that you can expect even more market-leading and customer-centric innovation coming from Tasktop. To give you a sense of what’s to come, we are also announcing some amazing new features for turning the two-year journey of the manufacturing company into an even faster and more visible journey at your organization. Today marks the release of a whole new set of analytics for technology leaders that we are releasing for Tasktop Viz called VSM Portfolio Insights.
As the number of organizations using Tasktop Viz to shift from Project to Product grew, we realized that one of the biggest challenges was tracking the journey itself. Whether you are helping dozens or hundreds of teams make the shift, data-driven visibility into the transformation itself is critical. With VSM Portfolio Insights you can see exactly how many of your value streams are generating Flow Metrics and tracking business results. In addition, all of the learnings that our Flow Advisors and customers have generated around tracking progress on reducing work-in-progress (WIP), improving Agile practices, and conquering technical debt are now visible across your value streams, your lines of business and your entire organization. You can see a demo for the VSM Portfolio Insights on the Tasktop Viz page.
These new portfolio dashboards provide leaders with instant insight into the capacity of your value streams, as well as where you can expect time-to-market delays due to overly high Flow Load. As always, our goal is visibility for leadership that is actionable for teams. The aforementioned CEO from the manufacturing company was able to use the portfolio insights to recognize that too much load (i.e., WIP) was put on the teams due to urgent requests that arose from the pandemic which were layered on top of existing commitments. They used this insight to help the teams invest in tech debt reduction as well as promoting a “stop starting and start finishing” initiative. The result was a massive increase in value delivered to customers in the ensuing months. All of this gave the CEO that same feeling of the actionable visibility he had from the shop floor that helped identify systemic problems, invest in removing those bottlenecks, and empower the teams to find solutions and to do great work.
Tasktop and our customers have been on a journey of defining the future of how software development is managed at scale. I am thrilled that we will now have the backing and the support of the Sumeru team on the next big chapter of that journey. Keep an eye out for many more insights and analytics, faster and smarter Flow Modeling, an ever-expanding Flow Fabric™, and support for more use cases and integrations for Tasktop Hub™.
If you would like to join us on the journey as a team member, partner or customer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
About our work with Sumeru Equity Partners
About our continued innovation of analytics for technology leaders in Tasktop Viz™
Download The Technology Leader’s VSM Playbook
Learn the 12-steps to running a high-performing technology organization within a large-scale enterprise and how to get started:
- Part I: Drive business outcomes
- Part II: Invest with intent
- Part III: Measure true business agility
- Part IV: Outpace the competition
Get Software Delivery trends and insights in your inbox. Subscribe now.