Last month was a seminal moment for us – we launched our next-generation software integration product, Tasktop. As ever, the product development journey was one hell of a ride.
Three years. 500,000 lines of code. 20,000 automated tests. 5,000 wiki pages. Hundreds of design sessions. Many mistakes. Some tears. A few moments of deep soul searching. And many days filled with tremendous pride watching a team pull together to deliver something special – something that we truly believe will transform the way people think about integration.
In true Agile style, I’m a big believer in retrospection, ascertaining key lessons and gleaning takeaways from the experience to improve the way we work. So what did we learn this time round?
It’s ALL about the people and trust.
To combine the powers of talented individuals and turn them into a true team, you need trust. All of our team will admit there were some rocky moments at the beginning and that’s only natural. Yet with hard work and perseverance, you can forge a close powerful unit that runs like a well-oiled machine.
Trust that the product manager and designers have fastidiously analyzed what the customers want and are requesting an accurate representation of their needs. And trust that architects and developers are designing a codebase and architecture that can be built on (while at the same time being nimble and lightweight as possible).
If I had a ‘magic button’ (everyone at Tasktop knows my obsession with magic buttons!), it would be the ‘trust’ button. Of course that is not possible – trust is built up over time and can’t be rushed – but once you’ve got it, man, is it an addiction!
It takes a village.
Building a pioneering software product isn’t all about the developers (although they’re obviously integral). To get the best result possible, you need:
- Strong user-focused product managers
- Imaginative and creative user experience designers
- QA professionals that see the BIG picture (as well as thousands of details)
- Technical writers willing to rethink documentation from the ground up
Throw in sales and marketing into mix and the village becomes more of a city by the end. Embrace it, take everyone in and watch your product development flourish in this environment.
Don’t give up and don’t give in.
Set a vision and DEMAND a relentless pursuit of that vision. When it seems like everything is being called into question, reach deep inside and stick to your core vision. It’s your constant, your north star.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t alter and tweak things along the way – in fact, I would say if you don’t do a good amount of that you are heading for potential disaster. But if you don’t believe in the core vision that was set, then you will lose your way.
Have urgency but at the same time patience.
There is a somewhat elusive proper balance of patience and urgency. If I had another magic button I would use it for this purpose…but since I don’t, I think your best bet is to trust your gut to know when to push, and when to step back and let things steep.
Laugh a little. Or a lot.
I treasure the moments during the course of building Tasktop where we were laughing so hard that we cried. The thing I love is that I can’t even remember many of the funny moments that we shared – there were too many. And, yes, there were also a not insignificant number of moments where there was frustration and downright anger. But those memories aren’t what stick – what sticks are the moments where we overcame the hurdle, pulled together and laughed at ourselves.
Be grateful for those who support you.
Last but definitely not least, appreciate and thank the people that made the vision come to life. That doesn’t just include the direct teams that were involved, but also those who support you outside of work such as your friends and families.
The family that puts up with 28 trips to Vancouver in five years. The family that lives and breathes the ups and downs with you. The family that wants to see this product succeed almost more than you do!
To that end, I would like to thank my family; my husband, my son and my daughter – I thank all of you for putting up with the craziness of the last three years! If only the walls could talk… but instead, my 10 year old daughter decided to write down her own thoughts a few weeks before the launch:
To be frank, I actually don’t know what the big product is supposed to be, but from past experience, Mommy’s team gets all upset when a product doesn’t work. Also, another benefit of getting this thing to work is that everybody will be super happy and joyful.
But I will say, whoever scheduled the timing of her big trip to Vancouver for the launch must not have realized that the big trip almost makes me not see my mom for two weeks because I am going to Hawaii (yes, my parents are that awesome they are letting me go to Hawaii for a week as a 10th birthday present).
But, of course, don’t let that stop you from making this Tasktop’s best product yet. Make the product, make it work, and make it the most awesome thing the world has ever seen.
“Tasktop, the most empowering force ever!” I can see it in those big letters on the front page. Yes, I am waiting for the day I see those exact words marching bravely across the front page of the newspaper. So, don’t just stand there, get up and show the amazing, futuristic, and wonderful world of Tasktop.”
– Bailey Hall, one Tasktop’s youngest and brightest thought leaders.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in making the launch of Tasktop a success as we move on the next significant stage in the product’s development – getting it to market and harnessing its many capabilities to drive our customers’ large-scale Agile and DevOps transformations.
For more info on the new product, check out our new site www.tasktop.com