In the era of sophisticated technologies and tools, it is very important for any software to be aligned with an Application Lifecycle Management tool.
ALM is a frequently heard and discussed term. Let us understand how Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) helps an organization while going through each stage in the lifecycle of an application.
The Common pitfall with most organizations today is adopting isolated tools for Project tracking, release management and deployment. However, since these tools are not integrated, they cannot track a feature at any given stage of the lifecycle.
It is a challenge to report to stakeholders the status of a feature or task and the time it would take to have it implemented. Hence even though tools are being adopted and used; it has little ROI on overall vision of the Product.
What is ALM?
The journey of a software from its ideation to its end-of-support is Application Lifecycle Management. It covers 3 dimensions of Governance, Development and Operations of an Application.
- Governance covers all the strategic decisions you need to make regarding the application.
- Development is the phase in which you create the application.
- Operations includes all the activities required for running and managing the application.
ALM facilitates your product or application to be automated, controlled and monitored through various tools as it continuously provides you with data and analytics to help to optimize your service line. The correct implementation of ALM renders, improves communication, automates processes and in turn accelerates organizational growth.
Many companies today use tools for managing their Requirements, Design, Development tools however there is no controlled strategy defined or any specific toolsets where you can track a particular requirement right from the start till it is deployed on Production.
Why is ALM important?
It is crucial to understand how and why ALM is important and how it helps in providing value to your development process.
Problem Statements of 3 crucial stakeholders in a typical software cycle:
Product Manager: I like to track the development progress of my User Story and when it will get to production.
Project Manager: I should be able to trace and monitor every requirement through its lifecycle and understand at what stage it breaks and what efforts were taken to move it forward to closure
Project Sponsor: I would like to trace all features of the product gone to production and how much time and budget it took to materialize.
How ALM connects the dots:
Let us see how we can help all the stakeholders achieve their goal through ALM way.
- For a Product Manager it is imperative that the feature he/she has outlined sees the end stage in Production so that it can be evaluated by real customers on Production. For a product manager to track the feature how it is shaping up, he/she needs to look at the dashboard and monitor all features and which stage it is at. If the stage is at UAT, Product Manager can actually check the working feature and can suggest any changes or provide feedback so that before it goes LIVE all corrective actions can be taken and updated on the Dashboard. It can be JIRA Scrum Board or ALM Dashboard tool from any software, but traceability can be easily tracked if it is on a tool rather than on excel sheets.
- For a Project Manager, he/she wants to be on top of things at each stage whether be it Dev, QA or UAT. For Project Manager, it is important to track and monitor every feature going to its lifecycle and it is at which stage and what is the current status. It is important for him to know if there are dependences or constraints which are roadblocks so that it can be removed at the right time.
Imagine doing this manually or in excel sheets or a project plan which was traditionally done in the early days. With advancement of tools for ALM, it is very easy for a Project manager to trace a particular task, which stage it is at and if there are any obstacles, it can be removed by taking corrective actions.
- Lastly the Project sponsor needs to look at the time and also Budget being utilized for the same, overall reporting and analytics enable him/her to take right decisions at the right stages and tweak the overall Sprint Milestones. By using data, the timeline and the budget can easily be calculated, and necessary amendments can be done on scope or timelines and also Budget if necessary.
Overall ALM brings more predictability and agility to the project. It brings more discipline and process orientation between the team and complete transparency is always maintained as everything can be accessed anywhere anytime. ALM gives you a detailed view of a feature right from Requirements till it reaches Production. It can find the time, money, resources it took to see its end with a complete history of the reviews and feedbacks.
Top tools for ALM
Here are the top 5 tools available in the market:
Atlassian provides an array of tools which when integrated provide entire ALM capabilities. Tools like JIRA, Confluence, Stash and Bamboo, provide Development Tracking, collaboration, Git-powered code repository, and server for complete integration.
2. Microsoft ALM Tools
Microsoft ALM tool together integrate all layers of governance, development and Operations vertically and horizontally. MS Visual Studio as development environment, Team foundation server for version control and configuration, MSF for agile development and CMMI compliance are a few of the tools that together provide the entire ALM ecosystem.
3. IBM Rational
IBM’s ALM is a truly agile collaboration. It enables business, development and quality assurance teams together to realign themselves according to the customer feedback. The IBM Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management tool is a combination of multiple aspects such as Requirements Specification, Configuration and Change management and Quality Management.
4. HP ALM
HP ALM was earlier referred to as Quality Centre. It was a purely test management tool developed by Mercury Interactive. It is further developed by HP to cover the entire ALM cycle. HP ALM is distributed in 4 different flavours – HP ALM, HP QC Enterprise Edition, HP ALM Essentials, HP ALM Performance Centre Edition each covering different aspects in ALM.
5. Version One
CollabNet VersionOne provides a combination of products that can help manage your development cycle. TeamForge is a traditional ALM or an SDLC management tool. GitAgile is a version management tool. VersionOne is an Agile Lifecycle Management platform. All these tools along with Continuum empowered with DevOps provides real-time insights into the status of your Application Development.
Advantages of implementing complete ALM:
- Productivity — Through the efficient tracking at all product software lifecycle, it guides the team to evolve and optimize at the right time and take corrective actions and decisions.
- Quality — Quality is checked at the end of every cycle rather than at the end when the product reaches a preproduction stage so it is easy and faster to identify and repair the problem earlier rather than at the end towards product launch.
- Agility — It encourages the entire organization to operate in an Agile fashion. It also introduces that effective communication and collaboration channels throughout.
- Predictability — Through better estimation, better communication and replicable processes, it introduces better planning and foresight.
- Auditability — Traceability of work back to a business needs, accountability for each change or decision made and the ability to track what was done at what juncture of the software lifecycle.
Clarion has helped a lot of organizations in implementing the right tools to empower them with a complete ALM platform. If you would like to perform a similar transformation for your organization, do reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries.