From Integrated Pipelines to Value Stream Management

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The memory of meeting Tasktop CEO, Dr. Mik Kersten, is eternally sketched into my mind. It was just after I had given my talk at the initial Gene Kim DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco in 2014. During the talk, I had mentioned that Tasktop played an integral role in connecting information across our toolchain to enhance visibility and flow. Mik excitedly grabbed me after the talk and—speaking at his normal rate of 100 words/minute—showed me some of the great ideas and concepts that Tasktop was implementing that would further enhance our capability to provide visibility of the artifacts across the integrated toolchain.

Little did I know at that time that this would be my first step into a journey that would lead to the Forrester Wave™ pronouncement of Tasktop being a leader in the fast-developing Value Stream Management (VSM) space. Although looking back, I shouldn’t be surprised; that same vision and enthusiasm that Mik displayed that fall afternoon have been a driving force in helping Tasktop’s vision become a reality. 

During the last six years, I have had the privilege of watching this vision grow from integrating pipelines, into providing the ability to utilize a company’s own data to show where flow exists in delivering (and protecting) business value. And, more importantly, identify where the bottlenecks are that are creating delays.

Value stream management focuses on increasing the end-to-end flow of business value from customer request to customer delivery.

One of the first steps in this journey was the realization that Tasktop had this information through the Flow Fabric™. An essential component of Tasktop Hub, the Flow Fabric is the data transportation backbone between data siloes. It enables large-scale integration and interoperability between 60+ tools across key stages of the end-to-end software delivery process through the Ideate, Create, Release and Operate components of their value streams.

The Tasktop platform overlays the end-to-end value stream to provide the abstractions, automations, visualizations and diagnostics you need to practice value stream management on a daily basis.

By connecting to the enterprise-grade tools that every external (and internal) product uses within an enterprise, it’s possible to create the Flow Metrics that Mik introduced in his revolutionary Flow Framework® from his bestselling book Project to Product which has sold over 35,000 copies to date.  

Another revelation was that companies need to think beyond silos to understand how work flows from customer request to value delivery. Much of the work done in the last decade was in the form of locally optimizing a component of the value stream, such as development/testing with CI/CD.  Improving flow from “code to cloud” is necessary, but not sufficient to fully understand what bottlenecks may lie in wait states before work comes to a team or after a series of iterations are completed.  

Also, it’s not just one type of work that needs to be measured (e.g. features). It’s also necessary to understand how much work is being done and how quickly to assure that risk and compliance work is being addressed to protect their customers’ information. And determine whether a product team is able to address technical debt and improve their ways of working to avoid the debt spiral and improve Flow Time and Flow Velocity to remain competitive in a post-COVID world. 

So while it’s been an amazing journey for Tasktop and the VSM space so far, in many ways it’s just the beginning. As Mik writes, the Age of Software needs Value Stream Architects and VSM thinking to “ensure every system is perfectly and continuously designed to get the business results that matter most”. I can’t wait to see the extraordinary things that lie ahead…

You can hear more on Mik’s own thoughts on this remarkable journey and his response to the Forrester Wave™ report in his latest blog:

The Rise of Value Stream Management (VSM)

Download Complimentary Report of Forrester Wave™: Value Stream Management Solutions, Q3 2020

Tasktop Hub recently featured in The Forrester Wave™: Value Stream Management Solutions, Q3 2020

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