Tasktop’s Dave West on saving developers from chaos

Tasktop Technologies’ Dave West is on a mission. Kill email and spreadsheets in the ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) space. To be grammatically fuzzy but conceptually pointed, Tasktop is about managing the managing of the application lifecycle. But we’re not talking about more managers (whew!), just better methodology and tools. Dave explains.

Our mission is connect the world of software delivery. So we connect up all these different tools, all of these different disciplines, and allow software to go from point A to point B during the innovation cycle of development. A great example of that would be … you’re using RTC (Rational Team Concert) and you want to work with a test team that is using something else, like HP Quality Center or Jira maybe. ¬†And so we provide the technology that links those which allows data to transfer from one system of record to another … so people can stay on the tools that they use from a day-to-day basis without having to work to a different set of information.

As Dave says with tongue in cheek, Tasktop helps the users of the “right” tool deal with the heathens using whatever “other” tool they happen to be committed to. He feels the biggest inhibitor to success is the inability of people to work together. Seems like such a simple thing to solve. But as the saying goes, “well, it’s complicated.” For example, he sees some customers doing Agile (iterative and incremental) development to deliver software faster, but they’re doing it in a Waterfall (traditional sequential process) environment. They then realize they’re not delivering software faster and adopt DevOps (continuous delivery) to speed up delivery. But alas, product planning is still done annually! Is solving all of this starting to feel like Whack-a-Mole? Dave continues.

So they get all of this great feedback and where does it go? All it does actually is become a big pile of waste that’s never transmitted into the process … Also more worryingly, we need to actively build our processes so we’re actively seeking feedback as opposed to just getting it by chance. So, (I’m talking about) hypothesis-driven development, Eric Ries and the Lean Startup movement and the idea of experimentation so you’re continuously improving things, getting feedback, and then pivoting consistently based upon the information you get back, or not pivoting if the information is, “Yeah, this is brilliant.” You need to build a process that is end-to-end. So DevOps/Agile is not just going to revolutionize development and operations. It’s also going to revolutionize portfolio and product management, and business decision making.

Listen to my full 10-minute interview with Dave West, below.

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