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?
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 and development, to its eventual end of life date.
More precisely, Application Lifecycle Management is made of many different traditional disciplines, that are now intertwined and optimized to enhance companies’ overall performance. ALM covers any aspect of Project Management such as Requirements Management, Software Development, Testing and Quality Assurance, Customer Support and IT delivery, among others.
In other words, ALM solution provides a fruitful environment for communication and collaboration where tools and teams are bound together to achieve the company’s objectives (also in terms of meeting legal standards, for instance) with the best quality results.
Three fundamental pillars of ALM
It represents the set of decisions made about an application. In this early stages of conception and app creation it is fundamental to set down all the ideas, needs and goals, which will ultimately contribute to define the product requirements to be developed.
This stage involves designing, constructing, testing and finally delivering the application, following the requirements above. As far as an 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.
It describes what comes after an application has been deployed to users. In other words, this last stage englobes all the operations and processes ensuring regular maintenance and updates (i.e. bug fixing, addition of new features…) till the potential retirement of the app itself.
Must-have ALM features
Agile and Release planning
ALM tools typically integrate functionalities that help you define, plan and prioritize your workflow easily (i.e. Kanban, Scrum), which fosters collaboration and communication among business units. Thanks to this agile approach, projects will be carried out more efficiently, making it possible to ensure smaller, more frequent deliveries.
Project and Issue Tracking
Agile ALM tools such as Tuleap allow you to track many different types of items (i.e. tasks, bugs, requests, customer stories, days-off…) and therefore to create links among them. Everything is stored and entirely traceable on the same platform: if any issue occurred, it would be immediately detected and therefore addressed without having to wait for the process to end, which means that adopting these tools would ultimately cost you less time and money.
Testing and Quality Assurance
This feature allows development and QA teams manage automated and/or manual tests on the same platform, hence getting rid of the juggles from one app to the other. It is convenient to centralize test management in order to gain real-time insight into the software development lifecycle, which is a key element to quality assurance.
Continuous Integration & Development
These agile tools highly contribute to make your software development project an easy-to-follow process since it is possible to customize and automate not only the workflow, but also data replication and integration as well as coding review. In fact, ALM tools generally provide the support of other plugins (i.e. Git, Gerrit, Jenkins…) to integrate and automate even more functionalities to build, test, review and deploy your software continuously.
Requirement Management & Baseline
It is a fundamental feature that your ALM tool should integrate, since it allows everyone who is involved in a specific project to collaborate and have a clear insight into it, thanks to a commonly shared interface. In other words, as soon as functional and non-functional specifications are set, they act as a sort of guideline for team members. In addition to this, any potential change during the process will be registered to ensure end-to-end traceability, which is even more crucial for audit purposes to prove that the requirements have been met.
ALM tools typically provide a centralized and secured document area for each project. More precisely, they will allow you to assign different access rights to control who can read, create, modify or even safely share the files in it (i.e. team members, customers…). This way it will be easier to stay informed on every project update thanks to both document history and real-time notifications that can be set.
What are the main benefits for organizations that use ALM?
Provide direction and reduce costs
Application lifecycle management provide the business with a clear direction even before starting developing the app. In fact, an ALM tool as Tuleap, makes management and development projects converge so that all business units will be given a sort of guideline to stick to, as to efficiently carry out processes. This will ultimately contribute to reduce risks and costs in terms of both time and money.
Enhance process visibility and traceability
This approach allows the business to have a clearer overall view on its processes thanks to ALM integrated features tools. In other words, your business will benefit from an all-in-one solution, gathering teams and tools in one place. As a results, ALM tools will enhance visibility and traceability at all levels and process stages since they keep track of everything that has been set, done and potentially modified (i.e. app requirements) over time. Moreover, ALM tools that integrate a refined rights access management – which is the case for Tuleap – can ensure a complete visibility to anyone involved in the process: developers, team members, internal and external customers, and so on.
Improve decision-making and overall quality
ALM tools englobe features such as version control and real time monitoring that enable the company to have a clear insight into each aspect of the application; this means from the very beginning of its setting, to the potential upcoming evolutions and changes it might be necessary to undergo in order to stay competitive in the market. As a consequence, it will be easier to make more relevant decisions and therefore to constantly keep track of the business processes, while improving the delivered quality and overall performance.
Enhance audit compliance
ALM tools can be extremely helpful especially for those organizations having to conform to strict quality assurance and security norms. Actually, since the crucial customer needs and requirements are outlined before committing to development – and in case of any modification everything is registered, traceable and accessible – it is easier to prove that the product complies with the request and related standards.