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From Code to Customer: Lessons Learned in 25 Years of IT and Product Development


This presentation offers a comprehensive retrospective on the evolving landscape of technology over the past 25 (plus) years I’ve been in technology, marked by rapid technological changes and pivotal learning moments from both successes and failures.  Through my career, I’ve experienced a range of situations, from disastrous product launches due to inadequate customer engagement to the repercussions of poor project planning and flawed technical decision-making.  Intertwined in that story are great successes of a company I started with in the late 1990’s and its growth through 2017.   After my 19 years with one company, I’ll share practical learnings from my experience in the consulting world from 2017 to present, which will highlight specific case studies where misaligned planning phases and overlooked customer feedback loops led to notable market failures, emphasizing the importance of integrating user-centric design from the inception of a project.  We’ll also talk about how lean and agile practices actually helped companies deliver exemplary products on time and on budget, as well as how DevOps practices and a positive employee culture made the difference for many positive outcomes.  This talk could be titled “learn from my failures” or “stupid sh!t I had to deal with in my career”, but I also wanted to make it more positive so that a newer generation can understand why more modern practices are better.  

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the critical role of customer engagement in product development and how its absence can lead to disastrous product launches. Learn to leverage customer feedback effectively from the outset to align product features with market needs.
  • Examine case studies illustrating the consequences of poor project planning and decision-making.  Gain insights into how to avoid common pitfalls and integrate best practices such as agile and lean methodologies to enhance project execution and delivery.
  • Trace the evolution of software development practices from the late 1990s through today, with a focus on how transitioning to Agile, Lean, and DevOps practices can significantly improve product quality, delivery timelines, and budget adherence.
  • Discuss the challenges and strategies for maintaining legacy systems while adopting new technologies. Learn how to manage technical debt effectively and how to make technology decisions that support long-term operational stability and scalability.
  • Identify the influence of organizational culture on project outcomes. Explore the relationship between a positive work environment and the successful implementation of technological innovations and employee performance.
Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts

Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Michael Roberts is an IT industry professional with more than 25 years of experience in bringing software to market. His industry certifications and accreditations include those from ICAgile, Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, Atlassian, GitLab, and the Scaled Agile Framework. With his experience as a technology executive, he’s guided many companies to successful IT and software projects.

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