Before joining Tasktop, I spent several years as a Project Manager working with non-profit clients. During this time, one of the biggest obstacles I faced was overcoming the communication barriers between separate teams at our organization.
So when approached to co-host a webinar with cPrime on the top challenges facing Project Managers, I jumped at the opportunity. In the webinar, Brian Mulconrey – cPrime Agile Coach – walked through the ways that Agile Program Management can transform your PMO challenges into opportunities through continuous communication and delivery. While listening to his excellent presentation, I thought “All very true…but there’s one crucial piece missing!”
And that missing piece was DevOps Integration, the next significant milestone in software delivery. By looking at the software delivery process from a value stream perspective – i.e. as a sequence of activities that design, produce and provide a product and/or service – we begin to see where value is being created and lost to optimize end-to-end production.
This state can only be achieved by connecting the DevOps side of the software delivery pipeline with the rest of the software lifecycle for visibility, traceability, and governance over the value stream – the holy trinity of requirements for first-class project management.
As a Project Manager, it is your job to straddle several different worlds, working with software developers, QA teams, business analysts, technical writers and more. Each team likely uses separate tools, and has separate internal processes and policies that you, as the Project Manager, must learn to navigate. Without an integrated toolchain (as these disparate tools do not naturally integrate), this can be an exhausting challenge that can test the sanity of even the very best Project Managers.
I used to spend countless days (and even weeks!) waiting on IT to grant me access to the many tools I needed to communicate with each contributor on my team. Once I gained access, I would spend hours watching training videos to learn how to use the tool. And even then I’d get in trouble for submitting requests the wrong way as each team had different practices and policies within their tool.
Even when I was able to access and use each tool, I could lose up to one working day a week. To put it simply, a fragmented toolchain is a costly and time-consuming endeavor that means a project manager is doing more admin than management.
Consequently, balls are dropped, serious issues are missed and avoidable mistakes are made. Lack of integration puts the success of all projects under threat, which ultimately means lost business if customers do not receive the right product or service on time. Not to mention the impact on job satisfaction of talented Project Managers who may lose patience and move on to a better, more connected environment…
A Project Manager’s Nemesis: A Fragmented Value Stream
DevOps Integration allows you to connect the disparate activities occurring in separate tools into one united value stream by connecting those tools into a modular toolchain. Wouldn’t it be great if you could automatically flow information from your tool of choice (maybe a PMO tool such as Microsoft Project Server) in real-time to the other tools that your team members were using? No more double entry into multiple systems, no more twiddling your thumbs while you wait for IT to grant you access to yet another tool, no scavenger hunts for important data.
This is all achievable through true DevOps Integration. It’s much more than just connecting your development and operations tools for improving collaboration when building and delivering software. It’s all about connecting those critical teams and tools with the whole value stream to optimize the entire process, from ideation and planning to testing and customer feedback. The end result? Fast and efficient continuously delivery of awesome software.
This is how:
- Each of these purpose driven tools is connected to one another, and information is able to flow seamlessly between them
- When you change a deadline, or the owner of a task, or details on a change in scope communicated to you by a customer, you’re able to easily flow that information to your Business Analyst in their own Requirements Management tool so that they can update the requirements for that deliverable
- Once your Business Analyst has updated the requirements for that deliverable, those details can flow to the tool your software engineers are using to track feature development
- Once your developers complete work on that feature, they can flow that information to the QA tool your testers are using
- You can even take all of that information from each tool and flow it into one central database so that you can run your own analytics to identify bottlenecks and high-level patterns that may be impacting delivery for your customers
Proof of Concept
Here’s an example from our own workflow here at Tasktop:
- When a customer requests a new feature for our product, one of the first steps that our Business Analyst takes is to determine – in collaboration with our engineering team – if that request is technically feasible within our product.
- To do that, our Sales and Professional Services team submits requests in their tool of choice, Salesforce. Those requests then flow over to our Business Analysts’ requirements tool, Targetprocess.
- The Business Analyst can then check a box on the request to initiate a technical investigation.
- Once that box is checked, the request will flow over to JIRA, the tool that our developers use. That new JIRA artifact will then automatically pull in to our developers’ triage process during their daily stand-up call.
As you can see, by utilizing their existing processes and tools, we are able to facilitate continuous communication between key players across the value stream and speed up our software delivery to deliver powerful results for our customers.
DevOps Integration with the rest of the lifecycle is vital as there is no single tool platform that provides a silver bullet. While each team benefits from using best-of-breed tools that are built for their specific goals, without enterprise-level integration, all the project-critical information that is created for the sole purpose of being shared with other teams is siloed. Communication and collaboration suffers, while Project Managers are unable to see bottlenecks and trace the flow of work, meaning they can’t make informed decisions that will directly impact the success of a project.
With Tasktop’s DevOps Integration technology – which delivers the best results and Total Cost of Ownership on the market – Project Managers have a dynamic and simple means to connect all tools, teams, and disciplines across an organization, obtaining a holistic overview of the whole value stream. The result is an omniscient and empowered Project Manager, able to focus solely on their job i.e. managing projects and ensuring that the value stream is flowing and consistently delivering value.
If you’d like to learn more, watch the full webinar with cPrime: ‘5 leading challenges facing PMOs – and how Agile Program Management changes the game.’