How do Product Visions Become a Reality? Tasktop Viz™, A Short Story.

I’ve always been curious about the stories behind some of the world’s most impactful technology. Always wondered how profound product visions came to be. Then I witnessed one happen with my very own eyes at Tasktop.

A few years ago our Chief Product Officer, Nicole Bryan, called the marketing team, talking excitedly about flight trackers, network activity, value stream flow and a new way to think about managing software delivery at scale. I could hear—nay, feel—the whirring noise of her mind from thousands of miles away in Austin, Texas (not that my simple brain understood much). I just nodded in awe. For some reason, I thought I could smell fresh soil.

Software delivery work flows more like airline activity than a manufacturing line (Image: Screen grab made from Flightradar24.com on July 27, 2020)

Eight months or so later, the sprouts of this vision began to emerge. A new category called “Value Stream Management” was born, with Tasktop featuring in a 2018 Forrester New Wave™ report on the then-nascent practice. “VSM” for software portfolios has but one simple objective: To systematically and continuously improve the end-to-end flow of business value from customer request to customer delivery. The end game being shorter time-to-market, increased throughput, improved product quality and optimized for business outcomes to rival the speedy and disruptive tech oligopoly. 

Later that year, a soon-to-be bestselling book—Project to Product by our CEO and founder, Dr. Mik Kersten—expanded on this topic through a compelling weave of real-life stories and learnings from his, and our company’s, close work with Enterprise IT at Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. 

Mik writes about Nicole’s airline network epiphany in his book Project to Product

It was in this book that the vision then blossomed further into the form of the Flow Framework®, a pioneering new blueprint that helps IT organizations measure their product value streams through the eyes of their customers and business stakeholders. With book sales swiftly hitting five-figures, it was clear we were onto something that was truly resonating with both technologists and their business counterparts. The concept of Flow Metrics provided a common language and measurement that both sides of the aisle could really get behind. At last count, the book had sold over 35,000 copies. 

Mik (left) is all smiles at SAFe® Summit 2019

As if blown by the wind, the pages kept turning at a frenzied pace.  At DevOps Enterprise Summit 2019 in Las Vegas, Nicole took to the stage with a healthcare customer to show real-time Flow Metrics in action. When the standing-room-only audience made a beeline for Nicole straight after the session, I knew something special was afoot.

And then, after a few months of limited availability, in March this year a product hit the market. The product that Nicole, Mik and others had been sketching on napkins, bank envelopes and glass walls over the last few years: Tasktop Viz™! A turnkey pure play VSM solution for implementing the Flow Framework to help IT and business leadership measure flow and the rate of value delivery for each product value stream, correlated to business outcomes (such as improving outsourcing ROI, increasing product usage and reliability). 

The likes of T-Mobile, Cubic, and an online investment giant are already using Tasktop Viz to continuously improve their market response where it matters today. And other enterprises are swiftly following suit to adapt and thrive in the Age of Software as we navigate this brave new world of intensified digital interaction in all meaningful aspects of our day-to-day lives.

Leaders are drowning in metrics, but still lack actionable business-level visibility. Tasktop Viz™ measures your flow, to improve your flow.

Like the very nature of software itself, this remarkable story is alive and happening and evolving as we speak. Just last week, Tasktop’s VSM platform was recognized as a Leader in the latest Forrester New Wave™ report on “Value Stream Management” in this progressively maturing field, alongside some of the biggest hitters in the space. A truly monumental moment for the company and one of my favorite chapters in its tale to date. 

From the leadership team to the wizards in product development to everyone else who makes Tasktop tick, there’s a lot of talented and committed authors and editors involved in this remarkable story and I, for one, can’t wait to turn the next page. 

The Rise of Value Stream Management (VSM)

Download the Forrester Wave™: Value Stream Management Solutions, Q3 2020

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