Foster your enterprise potential by combining development and management projects thanks to the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) approach and tools. Today ALM is one of the key elements to business success since it enhances cross-functional teams and business performance optimization by making people, tools and processes converge all along the application lifespan.
ALM, what’s behind this acronym?
We are now living in a software-driven world where quality and performance have a direct impact on the organizations’ bottom line and their ability to succeed. So organizations are increasingly looking for a solution to optimize each and every stage of their software application lifecycle: shorten the delivery time, accelerate time-to-market, ensure product quality… This is how Application Lifecycle Management has developed.
To make it simple, ALM can be considered as the combination between software engineering and business management, since it is defined as the way a software is managed from its conception, through its creation, release, development and maintenance, to its eventual end of life date.
More precisely, Application Lifecycle Management is made of many different traditional disciplines, that are now centralized, intertwined and optimized to enhance companies’ overall performance, aiming at improving project management throughout the entire software lifecycle: Agile or non-agile Project Management, Requirements Management and Baseline, Issue Tracking, Quality Assurance and Test Management, Continuous Development and Document Management, among others.
All the company departments are involved in the lifecycle of the application: such as the R&D, design, marketing, quality and after-sales service ones. The ALM therefore provides tools for:
- technical teams as well as business and functional specialists, who actually develop the software and then test it;
- marketing and sales teams, who put forward accurate proposals depending on both the market expectations and the competition;
- partners and end users, who can provide concrete use cases and even feedback on potential incidents;
- maintenance teams, who follow up and deal with any issues.
One of the major challenges of the Application Lifecycle Management is creating a fruitful environment for communication and collaboration where teams, tools and processes are bound together to achieve the company’s objectives (also in terms of meeting legal standards, for instance) with the best quality results as to leverage the overall business performance.
To go even further: another acronym you may come across when talking about ALM can be EAP. In a complementary article, we tell you everything you should know about Enterprise Agile Planning: the new name of Agile ALM.
The main benefits of an ALM tool
Common vision and costs reduction
Product Lifecycle Management aims to define a clear vision for a given application even before its development phase is launched. In fact, an ALM tool provides a common basis and reference for team alignment. This helps optimize the coherence and efficiency of any activity, while also reducing risks and costs considerably, especially in terms of time and money.
Full traceability throughout the entire lifecycle
An ALM tool actively participates in improving visibility and traceability at all levels: it tracks what has been defined, accomplished and possibly modified (especially requirements) over time. An ALM solution such as Tuleap, which provides a fine-grained access control management, will ensure complete traceability of “who modified what”… that could be anyone involved in the process: developers, team members, internal customers or even suppliers. Moreover, in increasingly standardized sectors, an ALM tool ensures the development of compliant software, meeting all the industry standards as well as quality and traceability requirements.
ALM tools provide teams with an overall and real-time view of project progress, both on a micro and macro level. Dashboards will also facilitate decision-making, then improving the quality of delivered products and the overall company performance.
Application Lifecycle Management tools are extremely useful for companies that have to comply with demanding quality assurance standards. Actually, it is easier to prove standards compliance during audits, since customer requirements are defined and validated before the development process begins and, additionally, everything is tracked.
Application Lifecycle Management: a strategic business process
ALM is one of the enterprise’s most critical processes. The investments needed to develop innovative software products motivate companies (and especially their IT department) to industrialize application development, making sure to meet the market needs. ALM tools have a three-level impact within a business.
An Application Lifecycle Management approach provides tools to the whole software value chain. Here’s the three main levels:
Governance allows to manage the application assets since it represents the set of decisions made about a software project.
In this early stages of conception and app creation it is fundamental to set down all the functional and non-functional requirements as well as ideas, needs and goals, which will ultimately contribute to define the product requirements to be developed.
This technical stage corresponds to the production of the software: it involves designing, constructing, testing and finally delivering the application, following the set requirements.
As far as a DevOps and agile enterprise is concerned, development processes are of paramount importance and focus on continuous integration as to ensure the delivery of highly optimized and qualitative applications.
#3 Operations and maintenance
This stage involves product launch and monitoring.
It describes what comes after an application has been deployed to end users. In other words, this last stage encompasses all the operations and processes ensuring regular maintenance and updates (i.e. bug fixing, addition of new features…) to make the application evolve continuously until its potential withdrawal from the market.