Landmark moments do not happen overnight. Getting Tasktop to where we are today took 15 years of company-building on top of multiple years of research. With today’s news, our ability to deliver transformation outcomes will go through a step-function change nearly overnight. I am thrilled to announce that Tasktop has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Planview. Throughout our eight-year partnership, I have been incredibly impressed to watch Planview grow to become a leader in Enterprise Agile and Strategic Portfolio Management while modernizing Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Tasktop created and leads the Value Stream Management (VSM) category and has been spearheading the shift from Project to Product and all things flow. We have been able to play an outsized role in helping some of the largest enterprise organizations transform. But it is this new combination that will dramatically accelerate our ability to help the world’s organizations survive and thrive in the age of digital disruption.
Since publishing Project to Product in the fall of 2018, I have been amazed at the pace of adoption of the product mindset and the Flow Framework®. The March 2020 launch of Tasktop Viz® established Tasktop as an important component of some of the most extensive and fastest-moving digital transformations. It was gratifying to see customers publicly state that we helped their businesses navigate the pandemic and beyond, establishing them as technology leaders and innovators. However, over the past two years, I have also come to realize that multiple constraints were affecting our ability to help more of the industry:
- Connecting to Portfolios and Plans: While the proliferation of team-level Agile tools has been great for teams, their proliferation has driven a complete disarray of product, portfolio, and business-level visibility. Tasktop is able to provide end-to-end visibility for value streams, but the product portfolios that define those value streams are increasingly disconnected from execution. This makes planning and decision-making a process that is divorced from development capacity, which causes constant friction and overload on development teams. By connecting Tasktop to Planview’s industry-leading Agile and strategic planning tools, we dramatically accelerate an organization’s ability to shift into a product operating model and build the right things faster.
- Connecting to Finance: One of the most important aspects of shifting to product and driving innovation is establishing a stable funding and capacity allocation model. However, to date, that has been beyond the scope of VSM and Tasktop’s solutions. Yet it is where I saw countless enterprise organizations struggling to connect strategic initiative planning around the transformation to software development. This has made deploying modern approaches, such as OKRs, overly cumbersome and failure-prone. With Tasktop + Planview, this critical bottleneck on transformation success will be a turnkey solution.
- Organizational Maturity: I realize now that I was somewhat over-optimistic in Project to Product about large enterprises’ ability to change once they see the bottlenecks in flow, which impede their ability to innovate and frustrate their technologists. Yet Tasktop’s Flow Advisors repeatedly point out to me that organizations’ operational reviews, Agile planning, and OKRs often continue as-is, without consideration for the game-changing insights provided by Tasktop Viz. Rather than expecting organizations to change how they operate, by combining the business strategy, finance, and planning strengths of Planview with VSM and Flow Metrics from Tasktop, we merge all of the visibility and operating practices needed for digital innovation into a single end-to-end solution.
In other words, by joining forces with Planview, we will now have the entire solution needed for the world’s enterprises to become digital leaders and realize the success of the transformations they have envisioned. This is more important to me now than ever, as we see digital innovators pull further and further away from the pack of other enterprises. The good news is that all of the practices and tools to successfully transform, drive investment confidence, and unlock capacity exist today for the world’s enterprises. The better news: these practices and tools will now be provided by a single, end-to-end solution.
What personally excites me about any tool or vendor that I’m personally about to place a bet on is not just what they offer today but where they are headed. I can’t overstate the complementary power of the Planview and Tasktop product portfolios. I have already heard the excitement from our key customers who have been asking us to combine our offerings and who see the potential that will be immediately available to them from day one. However, what inspired me even more to pursue this combination is Razat Guarav (Planview CEO) taking me through his experiences bringing one of the leading supply chain planning and execution solutions to market and his vision of applying those ideas to our space. For the both of us this all traces back to Eliyahu M. Goldratt.
Razat and I have already sketched out the future, post-closing vision on the slide below. In Wave 1, we are bringing our offerings and companies together. In Wave 2, we will build on that to create a solution that not only provides insights but allows an organization to act on those insights from the lens of their software portfolio. This will provide an entirely new decision-making and intelligence layer for organizations, allowing them to accelerate the outcomes of their transformations in a closed feedback loop (think the flow, feedback, and continual learning that we’re all after from DevOps). We are going to close the loop on the software lifecycle. And we are going to make value streams programmable.
Here is where it gets even more profound. In 2006, I wrote a paper with Tasktop co-founder Dr. Gail Murphy to summarize my PhD thesis, which became the inception for Tasktop. Earlier this month that paper won the annual ACM SIGSOFT Impact Paper Award. My lightbulb moment came when Razat showed me Wave 3, which takes us beyond technology teams and enables us to transform the entire organization. That’s what the 2006 work explored, and Razat made me realize that the expanded vision is now within reach. In Razat and the Planview team we have found the perfect fellow travelers to join forces and change the future of connected work.
While I tend to obsess with technology, innovation is all about people. This is the other key aspect of this combination — just how well Planview’s culture of innovating, building, and customer obsession matches with Tasktop’s. We have been working together for over a decade, and partnered closely for eight years. The amount of success that we are able to deliver to the world’s largest and most urgent digital transformations will grow dramatically as a result.
The combined Tasktop and Planview offering will be an industry leader by working with all best of breed Agile, DevOps, and team tools while enabling an end-to-end feedback loop that unlocks a whole new level of visibility, closed-loop planning, and automation. Following the close of the transaction, I will be taking the role of CTO at Planview to not only deliver to our customers the benefits of the combination but to work with our teams and customers to evolve our offerings into a whole new kind of platform that defines the future of connected work!