The month of June marks Isos Technology’s 15th anniversary, and we couldn’t be prouder of where we came from, more grateful for where we are, or more excited about the future.
Over the years we’ve learned a lot, both about growing our business, and helping our clients grow theirs. Atlassian tools have been cornerstone to it all.
To mark the occasion, we sat down with five Isos peeps and asked them 15 questions about where we’ve been, where we’re headed, and how our clients--present and future--can benefit from Atlassian tools and our years of experience working with them.
Here’s who we talked with:
- Thad West, Co-Founder & CEO of Isos Technology
- Danny Riley, Managing Partner & VP of Business Development
- Michael March, Head of Innovation, Isos Technology’s first full-time Atlassian employee
- Lia Wood, Business Development Manager, Isos Technology Employee #10
- Tracy Walton, Senior Atlassian Consultant and self-described “Atlassian Queen”
And here’s what we asked—and more importantly—what they had to say!
On Being an Atlassian Partner...
1. When Isos started, you primarily provided custom Java development. Today, you are 100% focused on Atlassian tools. What was behind this transition?
Lia: It came about in an organic fashion. Isos started using Atlassian tools in 2005, to run our own projects. As our client base grew, we were transparent about using these tools, and our clients began asking a lot of questions about them. We were so passionate about how the tools work for us, and client interest was so strong, that eventually we grew into supporting Atlassian.
Michael: Atlassian was Isos’ secret sauce for how we ran our own projects and clients kept asking about it. As the company grew, and interest in Atlassian tools grew, Isos needed someone to focus on it exclusively. When I started here, I was Isos’ first employee to be 100% focused on Atlassian.
2. What role has being an Atlassian partner played in the growth of Isos Technology?
Thad: Atlassian has been a constant in our world from early on. When we started working with them, they had fewer than 1,000 employees. As they have grown and matured, they have held steadfast on their commitment to channel partner success. They have also remained committed that their core products, Confluence and Jira, continue to be of value. But they have also been able to innovate, adding new products to their mix.
That steadfastness, both in terms of commitment to their channel partners and to their core products, has allowed us to grow our business and make strategic decisions because we feel confident in investing in them and in their tools.
Michael: In Atlassian, Isos has found a partner with great products who cared about their customers. It’s a true partnership between people who build, sell, and implement software. That’s exactly how it was when I started and how it is today.
3. Isos Technology was named the 2019 Atlassian Enterprise Partner of the Year. Why do you think the companies are so well-suited?
Danny: There are some similarities between Atlassian and Isos, shared values and focus, that have served both companies well. Both companies started out small, with clear purpose. They are intentional about their products, the way we are about our services, and committed to their culture.
One of the things I admire about Atlassian is the how highly they value their clients. At Isos, we too are always trying to do right by them. We always have their best intentions in mind. We would not be as tightly partnered with Atlassian if we didn’t see so many positive things about the way they run their organization.
Lia: Both Atlassian and Isos are focused on doing what’s right for the client, so we’re aligned around that shared belief and value. The most beautiful part about that is it didn’t take Atlassian teaching us that—we came to it independently. Isos does whatever it takes to make client whole.
4. What does Isos Technology’s 15 years of experience mean for its clients?
Danny: Over the years, we’ve all evolved: Isos Technology, Atlassian, and our clients. Now, though, with so many years of experience with Atlassian tools, we’re able to build trusted partnerships with our clients, rather than transactional relationships. We can offer them both strategic and tactical guidance around how to uses the tools.
Because we’ve been with Atlassian so long, we understand where they came from, where they are now, and how the tools can help all teams. We bring broader industry knowledge and industry best practices. We’ve also seen how the tools can be adopted in some very cool ways, without being customized into a corner.
Lia: We can get people up and running and help them scale, but the major factor in what sets us apart is that we understand potential pitfalls. We can tell people what risks are associated with their decisions, let them know if their choices might not work out, and make suggestions for what to do instead.
On Atlassian Tools...
5. How have Atlassian tools evolved over the years?
Thad: Over time, we’ve seen Atlassian and its clients mature, moving into enterprise scale. As enterprises grow, they often consolidate the underlying technology solutions they depend on, so we’ve seen Atlassian tools go from being used by individual teams to being applied across entire organizations.
Today, Atlassian offers mission-critical enterprise tools that can power many aspects of an organization and allow it to scale up or down efficiently as their business demands.
Tracy: I started using Jira in 2011—I think it was Jira 4.0—and they had just introduced what we know today as a scrum board. Even then, they were so committed to their products. It seemed like they were introducing new features every two weeks! Over time, they grew from tasks like bug tracking to fueling entire software development and service teams.
As Atlassian scaled, they brought along the rest of the industry with them. Today, Atlassian tools support everyone, from someone focused on developing long term company strategy to an individual on a development team. And with the acquisition of Jira Align, I can say yes to every customer, no matter what problem they need to solve.
Lia: The tools have changed over the years in wonderful ways. They’ve invested in their core products, Jira and Confluence, and expanded them in all the best ways. They also made some strategic investments, like purchasing Trello and partnering with Slack. And they’ve grown from single server, to data center and now cloud. Whatever they do, they are focused on increasing efficiency and performance.
6. Isos Technology is more than just an Atlassian partner—you’re a super user of Atlassian tools. How does Isos use Atlassian tools to run its own business?
Lia: At Isos, we’ve been using Atlassian tools, like Jira and Confluence, to operate our own business since 2008. So we’re coming from a place of passion and expertise.
Over the years, we’ve seen the software, which was already incredibly versatile, really mature, so we’ve expanded how we use it across the company. Today, every department at Isos uses Jira, Jira Service Desk or Confluence in some capacity. Sales has been using Jira for more than five years, Marketing uses Confluence to track initiatives and creates corresponding Jira projects to assign tasks. And even HR uses Jira to track PTO.
This mirrors what we’ve seen with our clients. As Atlassian tools continue to evolve, we’re able to help drive the software deeper into their organizations.7. What types of organizations and teams can benefit from Atlassian tools?
Tracy: Organizations across all industries and teams of all sizes can benefit from Atlassian tools. I know that from firsthand experience: I discovered Jira in 2011 when working at a large human resources and professional services firm where I had a big, distributed team. In my previous life as a product manager, I led both large waterfall development teams and small Agile development teams, and Atlassian tools have worked well in both cases.
8. What is the most important thing you want clients to know about Atlassian tools?
Thad: All of tools are incredibly configurable. You don’t have to change the way you work—we’ll configure the tools to work the way you want them to.
Danny: There is simply no better platform for collaboration than what I have seen from the Atlassian tools. I especially appreciate how seamlessly integrated they are. As you navigate through them, it feels like one cohesive platform—so much so that it’s almost like you’re in one application. That context is carried throughout.
Tracy: In today’s competitive business environment, talent and tools provide a competitive edge. The tools that employees are provided to do their work are as important as the work itself, and modern, innovative tools attract modern, innovative talent. Atlassian provides those tools. They are loved and revered for reason.
Lia: Atlassian tools are incredibly versatile. I can show any team in any department how to use the tools in any way, at any time!
On Isos Technology...
9. To what do you attribute Isos’ success?
Thad: When we first started, it was just me and a few other people. We all had strong, mutual respect for what everyone brought to the table in terms of skills. Everyone was a high performer, and there was a sense of personal accountability. That informed our culture, and since then, we’ve been very intentional about maintaining it. In fact, in our first-ever offsite meeting, we spent the whole time talking about culture. No matter how we’ve grown or what processes we’ve put in place, that culture of respect and accountability has been the anchor, the foundation.
Danny: Hiring good people. It’s an easy thing to take for granted, but it’s so important to a company’s success. We’ve had a knack for hiring great people. Not only is it a pleasure to work with them professionally, it’s a pleasure to know them personally. Plus, when you’re busy, great coworkers who are self-motivated and accountable can step in to help—or better yet, take something off your plate and run with it.
The other thing I would say is hard work. To be successful, you have to be strategic about where you want to go, but you also have to be willing to be patient. It has taken years of experience and determination, day-over-day, to make Isos what it is today.
10. Every person I’ve spoken to mentions Isos Technology’s great culture. What are the hallmarks of the culture and how did it come about?
Michael: The thesis was to hire people who are good and who can do their job independently—a culture of accountability. We have kept that culture as we’ve grown and scaled it out.
At first, though, we had team members embedded onsite at clients: they worked almost as an employee of that company and their job was to blend in. Over time, clients were so drawn to the way the Isos team members interacted with them and to the processes they put in place, that they began to see the value of Isos as a culture and a team. Now, clients bring Isos in specifically for our culture and for the value the whole team brings, so it’s more than just the value of the individual.
Another aspect of our culture that serves us well is our diversity. The culture is the same, but diversity makes it better in every way, and makes it more possible to scale out.
Danny: When we first started, we were a small group of IT professionals trying to build a business so we could work together. We respected each other’s abilities and knew we could depend on each other to be accountable. As we’ve grown from three people, we've hired co-workers who fit that company profile, and we've stayed true to our culture in terms of how we wanted to interact and engage. We are intentional in our communication and expectations and give employees room to grow and succeed.
11. Isos Technology has had a geographically distributed workforce from the get-go. Remote work and collaboration are very much in the news today. Can you tell me a little about that?
Michael: Because Isos team members were often at customer sites rather than in the office, we became really good at remote communication. That early, decentralized model, and our initial discipline around being remote communicators, has served us well as we’ve grown. We are very practiced at keeping people informed, and of course, the Atlassian tools support that in so many ways. When more organizations began working from home due to COVID-19, Isos had to make almost no adjustments because it’s the way we’ve always worked.
Read more about remote collaboration:
12. What is the most important thing you want people to know about Isos Technology?
Thad: We are 100% focused on delivering value to our clients, and that’s as true today as it was when we started. We’re not looking for turnover. We want to partner with clients, build those relationships, and have those clients for the next 15 years. That’s always been our focus and it always will be.
Danny: Isos Technology, and the people who work here, are very driven to provide the best services that we can. We are always looking to deliver value and do the right thing by our clients.
Tracy: Atlassian tools are a business-critical, single source of truth, and we are a trusted partner in supporting those tools. No organization should have to go about navigating, nurturing, and growing business-critical tools without a trusted partner.
13. What do you love most about Isos Technology?
Tracy: The thing that I love the most about Isos is we are who we say we are, both inside a conference room and out in the world. We are real, genuine people who roll up our sleeves and get the job done. As part of that, we are cognizant of the fact that people and relationships are what business is about. We want to have a strong partnership with our clients so we’re both successful.
Lia: Every single team member is incredible. As employee #10, I can say that each team member has showcased talent, expertise, and personality. They are the reason Isos Technology is so successful.
On the Technology Industry...
14. How has the technology industry changed over the past 15 years, and what does that mean for Isos’ customers?
Thad: Everyone talks about how dynamic the technology industry is, and that’s true in many ways, but there are a lot of constants. For instance, when we started Isos, Agile had only been introduced a few years earlier. It’s still relevant today because organizations still want to be able to deliver better results, faster. So there’s this steady undercurrent driving technology advancement.
There is also a constant evolution of maturity in the tech industry. People use technology in their everyday lives in ways they didn’t use it before. They are aware of how technology can make a difference at work—make companies better places and make jobs easier to do. As a result, organizations expect more from both technology and their technology partners.
Organizations understand the competitive advantage of having a well-run technology machine. They are looking for partners to guide them through best practices and help them solve the same or similar problems.
On the Future...
15. What does the future hold for Isos Technology, for its partnership with Atlassian, and for Atlassian tools?
Thad: I’m looking forward to that next stage of growth for Isos as we continue to expand. Over the years, we’ve created a lot of opportunities for our team, and it’s been exciting to see growth and maturity, both as a company and as individuals. Our processes have matured, our internal skills have grown, and we’ve established things we never thought we’d have, like training programs. I can’t wait to watch more leaders emerge in the organization and to see them work and solve problems in fun and interesting ways.
Danny: When I look toward the future, I’m looking forward to expanding the organization, bringing in more skilled workers, and driving Atlassian deeper into our clients’ organizations. Atlassian is now an executive-level, enterprise solution, a platform that can be expanded across the breadth of an organization to run core business functions.
Tracy: More of the same but better. We are committed to maintaining the strength of our client relationships. What can’t we conquer together?!