Most of the organizations invest considerable amount of money and resources on individual tools that handle different phases of application lifecycle – Project Management, Requirements Management, Development, Test Management, etc. The problem with these tools is that most of them are isolated. Automated synchronization of data is missing among the tools; as a result extreme manual intervention is required in order to provide enhanced value to the stakeholders. This, without any doubt, affects productivity and cost.
Integrated ALM system is the right choice; such a system connects all the tools used at different levels of application lifecycle and syncs data across them. Once it is decided that the organization needs to implement an integrated ALM solution, the next big question that arises is which one to choose. There are many players in this domain so it needs a detailed analysis in selecting the optimum solution.
- Here is a list of features that one should look at while choosing an integrated ALM system. Make sure the chosen tool has following features.
1.Support for Global Distributed Development
Application development is more global than ever. Organizations have globally distributed teams. It is quite common for different teams to use different tools at different or same phases of application lifecycle. For example, one team is using RequisitePro and the other team is using DOORS for Requirements Management. Both the teams are using JIRA for Issue Tracking; they are also using JUnit for Testing. You have to integrate them all in order to achieve high visibility.
The integrated ALM system must be able to support all the standard ALM tools, especially those that you are already using.
2. Traceability among the lifecycle artifacts
Traceability provides the capability to manage functional dependencies between the different lifecycle artifacts. Traceability provides a methodical and controlled process for managing the changes that inevitably occur during application development. It also helps to understand what the other team members are doing.
3. Support for Workflow Automation
Workflow Automation is another vital feature. An integrated ALM solution providing the capability to customize workflows can provide better implementations and increase productivity by enforcing them across the organization. Automating the frequently repetitive tasks eliminates a lot of bottlenecks and enhances productivity. In addition to this all the stakeholders get accurate information about the project progress through the various metrics and reports. As a result of this there will be a considerable improvement in time savings by reducing meetings discussions and email traffic.
4. Better Visibility
Lack of visibility is one of the major challenges in day-to-day activities in application development for all stakeholders. Business Analysts, Architects, Developers, Testers and Managers – all work in a very isolated manner using different tools and have limited information about the overall application development activities and project status.
To provide higher visibility, tools need to be connected so that all the stakeholders share the same pool of real-time data. This environment of connected tools allows the teams to do their work in an informed way thereby having complete visibility into projects, people, schedules and costs.
5. Support for Shorter Development Cycles
Faster delivery is the key to the success of a project. To achieve this, the integrated ALM solution should support shorter development cycles, team collaboration, eradicate errors and minimize manual interventions. Based on all the points noted above, it is obvious that it will.6. Help to Improve Quality Integrating the ALM tools has direct and indirect effect on the quality of the final delivered product. This can be achieved by reducing the number of defects, increasing stability among requirements; implementing effective testing, and thereby making sure that the product satisfies the acceptance criteria of the end users.
With an objective to deliver quality output, artifacts from various tools need to be exposed to the appropriate users at the right time. Through integration, architects, developers and testers should have real-time access to the different artifacts from within their tool, and hence have greater visibility and knowledge required for doing a better job.
7. Provide Meaningful Reports and Actionable Metrics
Organizations are finding it extremely difficult to get meaningful data that helps to build a reliable picture of software development projects. Typically, managers rely on team members to provide these inputs. Often it is found that the data provided are inconsistent and hard to collate. This results in missed deadlines, higher costs and loss of goodwill in relationships. Companies spend millions of dollars each year in project overruns, cancellations and missed business goals.
Therefore, an automated reports and metrics collection system is required that will be integrated across the ALM tools. This will provide a decision support solution that delivers relevant metrics thereby enabling the management to take relevant decisions regarding cost, effort and schedule.
8. Effective Change Management
Change is inevitable in application development. Managing Changes properly is a major challenge. Organizations find it difficult to keep all stakeholders in sync with the latest changes in the project and ensure smooth change propagation through lifecycle silos. Most of the times, inconsistent information creeps in, resulting in wasted effort, productivity loss and incorrect delivery. The end result is extreme dissatisfaction of the customers.
To address the above problem, an end-to-end, forward and backward traceability is an absolute need among the artifacts that are getting generated throughout the application development stages by using different tools. Organizations find it difficult to relate items getting managed in isolated tools by users from different functional areas. Connected set of tools makes it easier for the teams to analyze the impact of changes, automate change propagation and thereby keep everyone in sync and minimize the change reaction time.
9. Support for Collaboration
Even after analysts perfectly define business requirements, designers create flawless designs, developers write bug-free code and testers run innumerable tests, a development effort can still end up in a big failure. Lack of real-time collaboration and coordination among the various functional teams is the reason behind such failure.
Collaboration is possible only when stakeholders’ tools are inter-connected. Integration among these tools ensures that all stakeholders are in perfect sync. No time should be wasted on syncing the tasks manually and through meetings.
10. Plug & Play Tools
Organizations invest heavily on buying the best-of-breed tools for different lifecycle stages and on training team members. The integrated ALM solution helps to achieve an end-to-end solution resulting in increased ROI and process improvement. It has to be flexible enough to plug any tool from any vendor any time into this integrated ecosystem and follow the best practice process irrespective of the tools chosen.
One has to make sure that the ALM Integration Platform supports all these features and capabilities.