Traceability is one of the important aspects of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) process. Software developers realized the need of ALM because they wanted to have better visibility across the product or application lifecycle. That said, traceability became an integral part of ALM.
As ALM became popular and received higher adoption rates, a lot of vendors came up with various tools for some or all phases of application lifecycle. Tools for Requirements Management, Test Management, Defect Management and other modules of application lifecycle were available and organizations picked up different tools from same or multiple vendors to manage specific phases of application lifecycle.
This led to another situation; organizations spent a lot to buy point function tools, but did not get the real benefit of ALM. End to end traceability across the tools was missing; teams using stand-alone, isolated ALM tools started suffering from lack of traceability and faced the following problems:
- Senior resources got involved to manage and monitor Release progress
- Gauging change impact was extremely difficult because of lack of connectivity between tools
- No traceability relationship between artifacts used at different phases of ALM
- No process automation
- No mechanism to extract, map and refer individual requirements
- Manual data transfer from one tool to another
- No integration and automation between Build and Deployment
- Long delay to manually generate centralized reports or metrics
Many organizations still struggle with these issues and ultimately pay a productivity penalty. The table below shows the comparison of the Standish Group’s 1994 and 2006 Results. The difference between the two results is proper tools adoptions with the features mentioned here.
|Year||Failed Projects||Challenged Projects||Successful Projects|
* Source: A paper by Dr. Hossein Saiedian and Andrew Kannenberg
The importance of traceability is beyond any doubt. Now, there are two ways to add traceability to the application development process.
Choose Single Vendor for All Your ALM Tools
You can purchase tools for Requirements Management, Test Management, Release Management and all other modules from the same vendor. Tools from the same vendor can have a built-in integration or you can code to connect them easily.
But, the limitation of this approach is, you cannot use the best of the breed tools available in the market. All the tools developed by a vendor cannot be the best in the market. If there is a better tool for Test Management developed by some other company, you cannot use that tool which might have an impact on your team’s productivity.
Integrate Cross-Vendor Tools
The second option solves this problem and helps to add traceability as well. What about a solution that provides integration among cross-vendor tools? You can use any tool from any vendor; the integration platform will simply connect them all and enable bidirectional flow of data to and from each tool.
This option looks more realistic. Most of the organizations use tools from different vendors. Rejecting an existing tool and shifting to a single vendor ecosystem involves a lot of complexity and can be expensive too because you have to train all your employees again. Hence, cross-vendor tool integration looks to be most practical and cost-effective solution.
Once the ALM tools are integrated and traceability is established, organizations can get a higher visibility about the projects. An ALM solution with the capability of cross-vendor tool integration allows you to do following activities:
- Ensure that all the project requirements are met
- Find the origin and all related artifacts of each requirement
- Track every changes made to the requirement
- Foresee the probable effects of a specific change
- Check corresponding code of a failed test case
- Ensure all the team members are consulting the same and approved set of requirements
- Avoid last minute surprises
- Improve ROI – deliver quality work on time
Therefore, if you are struggling to sync up all the standalone ALM tools in order to achieve traceability, look for a solution that offers integration among cross-vendor tools. That is the best way to impart end-to-end traceability to the development process and realize the true power of application lifecycle management.