Tasktop Talks Up New Model to Boost Software Delivery, Productivity

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enable the different constituents to communicate and collaborate in real time.

I can’t get into the technical details here, but the information flow—what the company calls a “collaborative lifecycle bus” with a “common data model”—has to work for tens of thousands of users, and across different vendors and data models. All that, plus it has to be seamless and invisible (should be easy).

To that end, the company is pushing a new open-source project called Eclipse Mylyn m4, as well as a new standards initiative. The big ideas are that the overall workflow can be organized by tasks and context—an extension of Tasktop’s original premise—and that “lean startup” principles can now be applied to the whole software creation process. That means “build, measure, learn” feedback loops and fast iterations for the overall process—not just for developers.

“This has the potential to have a similar impact as lean manufacturing,” says Neelan Choksi, Tasktop’s president and chief operating officer. And that has strong implications for global competitiveness, as more of the world’s industries become software driven. The U.S. is “going to be short on software developers in the next three years,” Choksi says, so we had better get our productivity up. (Choksi, who’s based in Texas, is a serial entrepreneur and former MIT Blackjack team member who sold his last company, Lexcycle, to Amazon.)

Speaking of productivity, Tasktop is bootstrapped to date, having taken no outside money still. The company has grown to 55 people, and its partners include big guys like Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and CA Technologies.

But Tasktop is still a pretty small company, so it needs to influence a few of the big players to buy into its vision of collaboration and software delivery. “There is so much innovation on social networks. But we need tools to make Monday to Friday better,” Kersten says. “We are placing a big bet that the time is right, that this will catch fire now.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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