Tasktop Connect 2017 captures the imagination of the software development community

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“I thought Tasktop Connect had a great mix of honest User Stories and helpful Tasktop information. The event had the feel of a well-seasoned conference, I was stunned to find out it was the first one!” – Tom Horn, Collaboration Lead for Development Solutions, US Bank

The inaugural Tasktop Connect kicked off with a bang last Wednesday (October 4th), with DevOps guru Gene Kim announcing: “The business value of DevOps is even higher than we thought… with the right architecture.”

A host of Tasktop’s customers, prospects and partners descended on Columbus, Ohio, to learn more about the latest trends and insights impacting large-scale software development and delivery, Agile and DevOps transformations and more.

Taking place at the stylish industrial-chic VUE in downtown Columbus, an eclectic mix of industry thought leaders shared their stories, top tips and predictions for the industry. And one thing became abundantly clear: if you’re going to master enterprise-scale software delivery, you must have the right flexible architecture, people and mindset in place.

After a welcome from Tasktop co-founder and CEO Mik Kersten, Gene Kim discussed ‘The Rise of Architecture’ and the key lessons that he learned from researching and writing The DevOps Handbook. Among many a golden nugget, Gene warned that you should ignore architects at your peril:

“In The State of DevOps Report 2017, all the ‘high performers’ had focused on their architecture, enabling them to deploy 46x faster than their peers.” He also added that the right architecture can enable “small teams to develop new innovations for customers.”

Walking the same path, Mik then unveiled Tasktop’s ‘Value Stream Networks’ concept. “All revolutions require a new infrastructure,” he explained, elaborating that this new approach centers around creating a modular infrastructure for innovation that focuses on the relationships between stakeholders across the software value stream.

“Remember, people are connected through the artifacts they create” and by addressing this, “a customer’s IT productivity can increase 10x over the next decade.”

Next up was Robin Yeman, a Lockheed Martin Fellow and Agile Champion, who presented on the technology company’s DevSecOps journey and the importance of integrating tools to improve security across the pipeline. “I kept trying to make our software delivery pipeline linear, before I realized it’s not linear!”

She continued: “We had silos, and the tools just made it worse. We don’t want these barriers – we want guardrails. Integration addresses that and supports our goal to improve feedback loops across our implementation pipeline, enabling us to build security into every stage of the process.”

A common theme of the day was customers learning from customers, and Jim Korcykoski enthralled the audience with Nationwide’s Agile and DevOps journey: “Many people underestimate how much organizational support is required to support Agile, Lean and DevOps initiatives.” Emphasizing that companies should start slow and then scale, the company’s Enterprise CTO explained: “We said to our teams, “you want to do DevOps? You’ve got to reach an Agile maturity level first!” before reiterating Gene and Mik’s point that “you must align software architecture to the value stream network.”

Following a session by Mark Ford, Lead Developer from TIAA, who provided a comprehensive breakdown of how synchronization via Tasktop is ‘magic’, with tips of the trade and proof-of-concept benefits, Tasktop’s co-founder and Director of Product Management, Robert Elves, expounded the importance of bridging the gaps between teams in the software value stream, reminding the audience that: “Connectness counts, relationships matter.”

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After lunch, all speakers participated in a lively panel discussion on all things software development, before Nationwide’s Technology Leader – Carmen DeArdo – took to the stage to expand on Nationwide’s Value Stream journey. Not mincing his words, he warned: “Take control your value stream, or your value stream will control you!” Speaking of the company’s journey with Tasktop, he was quick to highlight how using Tasktop Integration Hub has provided end-to-end visibility across the value stream: “We now have lead time to every story across all 200 Agile lines.”

Keith Pemberton – Director, ETS Technology and Services at McKesson – was equally bullish about the need of integration in a best-of-breed world. “We learned that a single solution just wasn’t going to happen. There’s just too much going on. That’s why we’ve come to think of Tasktop as the plumbing in what we do, providing us with the necessary traceability over the process.”

Closing up the day were Tasktop’s Technical Director, Shawn Minto, and Nicole Bryan, VP of Product Management. Shawn echoed the sentiments of Nationwide’s Jim Korcykoski that any transformation requires meticulous planning and that you shouldn’t try to “attack the world but build slow,” while reminding the importance of collecting data early and pulling specific metrics later – “you need to establish that baseline right at the beginning.”

Bringing an information-packed day to a close, Nicole outlined Tasktop’s journey and vision for the future, including a breakdown of Tasktop’s unique testing infrastructure – ‘The Integration Factory’ – elaborating on how the system will continuously support all our customers’ large-scale integrations as they continue to define, grow and hone their software values streams.

What the attendees are saying…

“As an admirer of Dr. Mik Kersten’s decade long history of contributions to our field, it was a genuine pleasure to participate in Tasktop’s first customer conference. Now more than ever, we need software architectures to enable fast flow through our value streams.” – Gene Kim, co-author of “DevOps Handbook” and “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win”

“The first Tasktop Connect was amazing. Mik’s vision on ‘Value Stream Networks’, and the direction Tasktop is going in, will enable to customers gain more visibility and insights into their bottlenecks. This will revolutionize how enterprises build architecture and optimize their capability to deliver business value to their customers faster.” – Carmen DeArdo, Technology Leader, Nationwide

“I really enjoyed the time spent at the first Tasktop Connect conference in Columbus. It was great to hear from visionaries, practitioners, and enterprise IT leaders who are using Tasktop to help bridge the data divide that exists in the tool landscape. It was exciting to hear the vision of where Tasktop hopes to evolve their product offering to expose the flow of work in software development shops to improve the rapid delivery of high value software.” – Jon Harding, Executive Product Manager, Bank of America

“I found the ‘value stream networks’ concept very interesting, as I can see the overlap between the manufacturing value stream and the software delivery process. We’re always looking for ways to optimize the software supply chain, including making it easier for junior to senior level users to leverage new tools and practices.”- Todd Warner, Executive-In-Residence Workforce Innovation, Columbus State Community College

“The opportunity to mingle and talk with other Tasktop customers regarding their tool syncs was extremely valuable. I had direct access to Tasktop product management, providing me with information that I can take back and apply immediately.  And after gaining insight into the importance of value streams from industry experts, I am now re-invigorated and ready to visualize our own value stream network.” – Mark Ford, Lead Developer, Global Corporate Solution Technology (GCST), TIAA