The key to a successful software company is its ability to satisfy customer needs, through the delivery of innovative and timely software solutions — this ease of workflow, can give the customer the competitive advantage.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) provides such solutions by addressing the overall alignment and synchronization of business goals and IT investment priorities. ALM relies on automation, integration and a coordinated approach to optimize the software development process and make the process seemless.
To maintain quality, organizations follow defined processes like planning, designing, developing/configuring, testing, deploying, operating, and optimizing business applications to improve lifecycle collaboration and software development efficiency.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is not a new term in software development; it describes the application development pipeline that starts with the initial idea, followed by a series of activities that are executed often in rapid iteration throughout the application’s life.
For nimble software companies, creating something new and unique has always been a compelling goal and a way to achieve a competitive advantage. To do this one must have a cumulative and sustainable plan. Every new application is astoundingly complex and to maintain its utility, teams must overcome lots of challenges, including time constraints, limited resources and limited budgets all while maintaining quality output. A solution to this dilemma is to improve lifecycle collaboration with ALM.
ALM, acts as a bridge that holds the development Life Cycle together. ALM as a methodology category that began with source control tools, but with the growth of software development process, different types of tools have been added to the ALM space.
When implementing ALM, it is pivotal to pick the right lifecycle management tools. But picking the best point tools must not be the only focus; the focus should really be how these tools integrate to achieve the end result.
The main purpose for using an ALM platform is to:
- Successfully execute a project according to plan and to gain control over the project
- Bridge the gap between team members and stakeholders across the enterprise
- Provide full traceability of all development artifacts
- Minimize rework through collaboration, workflow and process automation
- Support Agile and non-Agile (where applicable) software development processes
- Provide a common platform for security and management
Simply, it is balancing ALL phases of the application lifecycle in and secure platform and providing full traceability across all software artifacts.
There are two basic approaches for an ALM framework. The first approach is to congregate ALM tools and integrate them to build a customized ALM platform tailored to requirements. The second approach is to install a full-fledged pre-packaged ALM platform that is fully extensible.
Which method of approach to follow depends on an enterprise’s unique requirements; nonetheless, there are a few guidelines that should be taken into consideration when picking the approach.
The best approach is all about selecting the right set of tools or integrated platform that will remove the major bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the overall software development process. The main concern here is integration cost and speed of delivery. Even though assembling a set of tools may promise more flexibility to support the organization’s ALM process, the cost of integration needs to be taken into consideration for building the required ALM framework. Also, adjusting the process over time may be cost prohibitive or simply too slow.
With the acceleration of release cycles and the constant demand for high quality software, the need for ALM tools has grown significantly, especially in the age of Agile. Choosing the right ALM tool will help enterprises increase enterprise collaboration and eliminate the inefficiencies in the software development process.
A good enterprise ALM platform must cover at minimum the following components:
- Requirement management
- Build and test management
- Project management
- Issue management
- Change management
- Release management
- Iteration management
- Collaboration management