Comprehensive software reviews to make better IT decisions
Choose the Right ALM Solutions to Manage Product Delivery
Application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions govern the planning, orchestration, configuration, and execution of development activities, artifacts, and projects from initiation to deployment and maintenance.
In many organizations, ALM solutions are the source of truth for all software development lifecycle (SDLC) artifacts and tasks. Get the big picture of how ALM solutions streamline SDLC capabilities, generate insights of development constraints, and support product plans and roadmaps.
An ALM solution:
- Automates ALM and SDLC processes, reducing the amount of manual, routine work.
- Integrates with core modules or tools already leveraged by the ALM and SDLC roles, enabling end-to-end traceability.
- Centralizes reporting information from multiple parts of the release pipeline to a single source.
- Enforces quality standards and controls with defined workflows and stage gates.
Review the Current ALM Solution Market
Size is not a barrier to implementing an ALM solution. Small and large organizations have implemented integrated toolchains, particularly in industries where regulatory compliance and quality are critical. When an ALM solution is implemented, it forces a shift from legacy document-driven practices to a data-driven approach. This data creates the insights organizations need to improve throughput across their SDLC and ALM practices.
Organizations implement ALM solutions to:
- Manage the complexity of applications and integrations.
- Drive quality across shorter delivery cycles.
- Coordinate multiple projects and programs.
- Ensure regulatory compliance through traceability.
- Connect distributed development and maintenance teams.
- Streamline and govern workflow across the lifecycle.
- Make ALM artifact knowledge for future reuse.
- Improve project management, business analysis, software delivery, and QA practices.
Vendors are investing in:
- Automation of key activities to improve quality and reduce rework.
- Machine learning to ensure accuracy and completeness.
- Enhanced integrations to streamline workflow across solutions.
- Policy, compliance, and risk management features to ensure robust solutions are delivered.
Architect Your Application Delivery Tools
The capabilities of different ALM solutions vary widely. Some focus on a specific domain such as requirements, test, or issue management. Other solutions are designed with a broad set of capabilities intended to cross multiple aspects of the software development and application lifecycles. 99% of the organizations Info-Tech studied have integrated more than one ALM solutions to take advantage of enhanced practice specific capabilities.
ALM Vendor Practice Focus
ALM vendors differentiate themselves by their coverage of specific SDLC phases.
- Requirements and Design Management – Vendors who are leaders in requirements and design management have advanced functionalities in documenting, reviewing, planning, and monitoring the completion progress of business and IT requirements. Some of the key differentiators of vendors in this space include:
- Visually define customer journeys, value streams, use cases, and business processes with graphical models.
- Automatically generate user stories and development tasks from requirements.
- Assess the impact and risks with requirement changes by tracing relationships and dependencies among requirements and other development artifacts.
- Development Work Management – Vendors who are leaders in development management have advanced functionalities in delegation and completion of ALM tasks and orchestration and automation of delivery tools, supporting any development method (e.g. Agile). Some of the key differentiators of vendors in this space include:
- Plan, monitor, and manage development tasks and projects and their progress throughout the entire delivery pipeline.
- Visualize product strategies and releases with roadmapping capabilities and prioritize tasks with collaborative backlog management.
- Provide a platform that allows teams to leverage tools they need to support task completion, such as version control and automation tools.
- Test Management – Vendors who are leaders in test management have advanced functionalities in the planning, orchestration, and execution of testing initiatives and resources, analysis of test results, and alignment of features to quality standards and requirements. Some of the key differentiators of vendors in this space include:
- Automatically generate and update test cases, test scripts, and test runs from new or modified requirements, issues, and requests.
- Provision and manage virtual and physical test environments, including cloud and containers.
- Continuously inspect and validate the alignment of development work to quality standards.
- Forecast defects by correlating observations across the SDLC and from historic test runs.
- Issue Management – Vendors who are leaders in issue management have advanced functionalities in the intake, triaging, and prioritization of requests, issues, and incidents; business and IT impact assessment of changes; and the management of SLAs and customer contracts. Some of the key differentiators of vendors in this space include:
- Track and visualize the completion and value of change requests, issues, and incidents from the product, stakeholder, and team perspectives.
- Automatically route and notify teams of new requests and issues, and link them to related requirements, stories, code, and test cases.
- Manage stakeholder relationships by ensuring compliance to defined agreements.
- Forecast capacity with predictive analytics.
- Holistically review your SDLC to identify automation and collaboration opportunities. View your SDLC from people, process, and technology perspectives. See Info-Tech’s Modernize Your SDLC.
- Analyze your existing ALM and SDLC artifacts. Create a glossary of the artifacts that are currently supporting your SDLC and ALM activities. Use your analysis results to reveal the ALM capabilities that need to be supported.
- Select and implement your ALM solutions. Review the ALM SoftwareReviews Category Reports to assist in your vendor selection and our Implement a Proactive and Consistent Vendor Selection Process blueprint for more information about procurement best practices (including RFP templates).
- Tools are critical for the shift from document to data-driven ALM. ALM solutions provide the insight needed for governance and continuous improvement of every practice.
- Organizations implement ALM solutions to manage products and projects. Application teams continuously strive to increase throughput and reduce contention, rework, and frustration when they develop and support their application portfolio. ALM solutions ensure that people have the information they need to manage the whole product, not just a single project or work order.
Want to Know More?
So you’ve gone Agile. You do daily scrums, retrospectives, and all the “right” Agile ceremonies. But still your organization isn’t quite convinced. It is now critical to balance the drivers and goals of both Agile and traditional thinking in order to achieve organizational success.
Do you feel like your Agile teams are treading water – going through the motions but never going anywhere? It’s a risk, and practices such as daily standups, retrospectives, and demonstrations need to be used wisely or you risk losing discipline to meeting fatigue.
Stakeholders expect the speed and responsiveness of product delivery does not come at the expense of quality. QA tools offer retailers the ability to continuously ensure both business and technical quality standards are upheld, but these tools should not be viewed as a silver bullet.
No matter how good your product roadmap and backlog are, they are only as good as your audience’s ability to understand your vision and priority.
The scrum master is like the conductor of an orchestra, ensuring that every piece fits together at the right time to create something greater than the sum of the parts. You don’t have to know how to play each instrument, but you do have to understand what each part contributes to the overall masterpiece.
Tools are important to product teams, but only when they support solid people and processes.
Aha! introduces scenario planning to give product owners the ability to create and compare multiple release approaches based on team capacity and backlog priority.
If an image is worth a thousand words, a visual roadmap will save you a thousand hours.
The application portfolio management (APM) tool space can be a confusing one, as many software vendors offer their own take of what APM is. Enterprise architecture, application management and project portfolio management tools offer an APM use case, but these are often quite skewed the primary function of the tool.