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What Tools Do You Really Need to Deliver Your Products and Applications?

While the Agile Manifesto might value individuals and interactions over processes and tools, modern product delivery SDLCs are automated. Unfortunately, there are a lot of tools and vendors creating confusion as they compete for a share of your wallet. Here is a quick checklist to evaluate what you have and what you really need.

There are many competing models and ways of categorizing the product and application delivery and management tools out there. In many cases, such as XebiaLab’s beautiful (if slow to load) Periodic Table, they focus on a particular area such as DevOps. Our research has shown us that your tooling decisions must consider the whole toolchain in the context of a modern SDLC.

When you consider how you will automate and integrate your SDLC here are the different categories of tools you need to consider:

  • Application Lifecycle Management – Broader tools and suites that incorporate features from many of the categories below such as TFS/Azure DevOps, IBM’s ALM suite, and Micro Focus ALM. Jacks of some trades, masters of none.
  • Product, Requirements, and Design Management – A more specialized toolset, often incorporating both requirements management and visual design tools that includes TopTeam Analyst, Blueprint/Storyteller, Jama, and Sparx EA. These are critical for traceability in highly regulated industries, collaboration for distributed teams, and reusing valuable product requirements and design artifacts.
  • Delivery Work Management – This space is in flux as more agile, product-centric tools such as JIRA, CA Agile Central, VersionOne, and ServiceNow displace more traditional project-centric tools such as CA PPM, Microsoft Project, and so forth.
  • Build Management – Source-code control, continuous integration, and containerization are all key considerations when you build code, and tools such as GitHub, Subversion, Jenkins, and Docker can be a key part of your toolchain.
  • Test Management and Automation – This is a hot topic for our members. FitNesse, Selenium, and Cucumber are just a few examples of tools that are making automated test execution and management a possibility.
  • Deployment Management – Code isn’t worth much before it’s in production, so tools such as GoCD and Spinnaker are an important part of your toolchain.
  • Issue Management – Service Desk tools such as ServiceNow and Remedy are increasingly integrated into the toolchain, tying in incident, issue, and problem management capabilities with the toolchain you use to fix them.
  • Value Chain Orchestration – Last, and most important. Bleeding edge tools don’t integrate. Leading edge tools do. Tools such as Tasktop, OpsHub, and Kovair turn delivery tools from disconnected buckets of bits into an integrated toolchain that to provide the insights into the value you create.

Our Take

Tools alone are not going to make your delivery and management practices more efficient. However, they are partners in the people, process, and tool equation. You can’t deal with these factors one at a time. An integrated approach is required because it is actually harder to introduce tools into an established practice after the fact.

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