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VMblog Expert Interview: Thabang Mashologu of ZenHub talks Productivity Management Trends for Enterprise Software


ZenHub has released new research findings in its Disruptive Software Teams report.  To find out more about their research findings and the recommendations that can be drawn from that data, VMblog reached out to Thabang Mashologu, VP of Marketing at ZenHub.

VMblog:  Before we get started, can you give VMblog readers a quick background on ZenHub and its role in software development?

Thabang Mashologu:  ZenHub actually started as an internal solution at a tech incubator called Axiom Zen, which is also famous for starting Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties and NBA TopShot. When we worked on client software projects, it often felt like our engineers were borrowing time from coding to update status in project management tools, while team leads never felt like they had accurate views into timelines and project completion, which all resulted in breakdowns and missed expectations with clients.

When we realized that development teams around the world were experiencing similar issues, we spun out from our parent company and formed ZenHub. In brief, ZenHub enables software teams at high-growth organizations like startups and scale-ups to build better code more quickly by providing a developer-friendly productivity and project management platform. ZenHub dramatically boosts collaboration and coordination for teams working in GitHub with automated agile features, real-time roadmap visibility, and team productivity insights. More than 7,000 disruptive teams worldwide rely on ZenHub to ship great code faster.

VMblog:  What exactly is the thrust of your Disruptive Software Teams report?

Mashologu:  This report is based on a survey of hundreds of software professionals. It's designed to provide insight into the technologies, tooling needs, and organizational priorities at high-growth companies building software applications. One overarching theme is a deep interest in empowering teams with developer-friendly tools, processes, and environments that enable time spent meaningfully on coding and other core technical activities, thereby driving productivity and innovation.

VMblog:  What are some of the key takeaways from the data provided?

Mashologu:  The results were pretty varied, but first and foremost, automation is now a critical function for high-performing developer teams. Any organization that wants to keep its developers happy and productive should view automation as essential. 45% of respondents prioritize the need to automate tedious tasks, while 41% see time spent meaningfully as critical to developer happiness and productivity.

Developers also want exposure to the latest technologies. For example, 28% see artificial intelligence as the most exciting tech trend. The report also gave us some clarity on what project methodologies software practitioners are actively interested in using. While Agile leads the way (25%) as the top methodology, startup project and team leads are far from purists. It's clear that disruptive leaders care about results, not methodologies.

Finally, open source is critical - 83% of respondents see open source software as "Very" or "Somewhat' important to their team's success. Overall, keeping teams aligned and productive is the most important focus for organizations of all sizes. Respondents in all roles, including executives, team leads, and practitioners, chose increased productivity/time spent meaningfully as their top priority.

VMblog:  What recommendations does ZenHub have for software development teams, product leads, and CTO/CIOs?

Mashologu:  In addition to these key findings, the report also includes recommendations to help product leaders and executives at high-growth companies provide a developer team environment that leads to innovation and creative disruption.

One of the most critical recommendations would be to prioritize automation to increase productivity. Developers are most happy and productive when they can focus on meaningful work. While you may be more resource-constrained than the competition, you can move more quickly and give your team an edge by using tools and processes that automate routine tasks. This will keep your team focused on productive work that leads to real innovation.

Closely linked with that is providing cross-team visibility and collaboration. Building software is a multi-team sport. The tools you use have a huge impact on the entire organization's success. Organizations need to choose tools that break down information silos, are flexible enough to be used across teams, and can scale as you grow.

Providing context to the project itself also helps to alleviate confusion. This allows developers to understand team and organizational objectives, so they know exactly what they need to achieve and are thus more productive. The right tools can eliminate confusion around these expectations and align your team towards a shared vision and common goals.

Finally, when it comes to open source software, organizations can maximize their open source returns by giving back to the open source community. Open source software is the great equalizer as it gives disruptive startups the ability to compete head on with established players. Many entrepreneurial organizations overlook the opportunity to enhance their standing in the developer community through active participation in open source projects. Contributing to open source is a great way to enhance your company's credibility and attract top talent, as software engineers care deeply about and live in these communities.

VMblog:  Where can our audience get a hold of the detailed results?

Mashologu:  The full report provides further detailed analyst recommendations for project managers, product owners, team leads, and executives. The entire report and its ground-breaking insights can be downloaded for free here:


About Thabang Mashologu

Thabang Mashologu has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, doing everything from engineering to marketing, product management, and strategy. He is currently the VP, marketing for ZenHub, a leader in productivity management for high-growth organizations. He previously has been the VP, Marketing of the Eclipse Foundation, one of the world's largest open source software foundations. He is passionate about the power of technology, diversity, and inclusion to make the world a better place.

Published Friday, February 18, 2022 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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