Application lifecycle management (ALM) comprises distinct disciplines generally regarded as unrelated to one another. It helps to bring people and processes together. Big companies release updates on their app almost every day. To efficiently manage all the development and distribution many companies use application lifecycle management strategies. But what exactly is ALM and why do software companies need them?
What is the ALM process?
ALM stands for application lifecycle management which encompasses governance, development and maintenance. This includes requirements management, software architecture, development, test, change management, continuous integration, release management among others. Software development teams and adjacent organizations, such as test and operations, can use ALM technologies to communicate and collaborate in a standardized manner. When using ALM to approach software development, you must examine the application’s entire lifecycle. Maintenance and future updates, as well as when the application should be decommissioned and replaced, should all be considered. These tools can also help to automate the software development and delivery process.
Common stages in application lifecycle management
ALM basically consists of the following stages
All stakeholders gather to state what they require from the application to support their business cases while defining requirements. The application’s design is based on the given requirements. Requirements can include a wide range of topics, from stakeholders’ business demands to compliance needs.
The requirements specification process is typically done top-down, which means that the demands begin with the general info and work their way down to the most detailed. Case requirements are frequently represented as a hierarchical tree structure, with each node reflecting a more particular sub-requirement for the parent node.
Once all the requirements have been established and agreed upon software design comes into play which allows critical processes to be simplified in a simple manner.
This is basically a layout for structuring the code of your software application. This Is a very important aspect of software development.
At this stage, the product is brought from an idea and a design to a real application. To design a development plan, the development team must first break down the application requirements into detailed pieces. All representatives from related teams should be included such as marketing, technology, testing, etc. This will save trouble later as the needs of all the teams can be satisfied in this stage itself. You can choose a development model that meets your needs.
Once development is over, the product is moved for testing. The tester will have to check the product in an integrated environment and if bugs are found it goes back to the development team for rework. Testing should be done until it becomes error-free. All created documents and test scenarios should be checked and stakeholder expectations met. Once the app meets all the quality standards then it can be released.
Deployment and continuous maintenance
This stage involves the release of the product to the end-users. This process varies based on the type of application being deployed. Along with deployment, there should be continuous maintenance and improvement of the product. Maintenance is the longest stage, but if the product has been developed well this can be the easiest. New updates should be planned and prioritized as and when required. The team must be clear when to move to a newer version based on the market and other conditions.
Why is ALM needed
Organizations need to devise a flawless strategy to manage their software development process from beginning to end. It is here that ALM comes into play. There are several benefits, let’s take a look at some of them.
ALM enables organizations to make better-informed decisions about their apps as they become older. You can have an advantage since features like real-time planning and version control allow you to rapidly and decisively sketch out an application’s future so that your organization can plan successfully. ALM is extremely important for informed decision making especially when it comes to developing interdependent projects.
It is necessary to have a robust network and management for collaboration between different teams especially if they are in multiple locations. ALM makes sure that everyone who is involved has all the details to track strategies, changes, requirements, and the status of the project. It can also help in identifying the skill sets that would be perfect for a specific process. It helps in prioritizing goals for the entire team.
ALM provides your team the ability to produce applications at the speed that is required to stay competitive. This is essential in today’s digital market where speed is of the essence. As processes and tools are integrated and shared with all the stakeholders there is no time wasted due to miscommunication. ALM helps you get the product to market on time.
Quality and compliance
ALM gives your software development team the tools they need to create high-quality software. Source code management and collaborative efforts effectively enhance quality. Communication is critical, especially during the requirements, design, and development stage. The requirement stage generally encompasses everything from technical requirements to compliance regulations. ALM helps to keep everyone in the loop. It can help you with an audit trail by creating a traceability matrix while developing thereby ensuring that compliance is provided throughout its lifecycle.
ALM plays an important role in project management through resource planning. It can help teams with precise estimations and methodologies to plan effectively. Tools are available based on the requirement whether the projects are developed in a linear approach or through an iterative process, i.e. waterfall projects or agile development projects.
It is necessary to track and monitor an employee’s work productivity and quality. ALM brings in transparency in every step and helps identify the input of each individual and tool involved in the process. This ensures that there is no loss of productivity and quality during the various stages. This can also help in enhancing employee support by identifying top developers and rewarding them.
ALM provides end-to-end application development and testing solutions to businesses. Strong intercommunication is required for application development and testing, resulting in up-to-date detection of issues and quick fixes. It’s critical to have a fully automated and secure framework that’s tested on a daily basis throughout the application development process. ALM automation solves integration problems by allowing developers to effortlessly merge their work.
Many development teams don’t have complete visibility into a project’s lifespan. This visibility is provided by ALM. It will show you how many requirements have already been met, as well as how many are still outstanding. You’ll also be able to see how far app development has advanced and what has been tested. If or when things change, this keeps everyone informed.
Businesses can survive and thrive only if the customers are satisfied. An ALM solution can help you showcase your work to the customers, collaborate to help them define their requirements, and also if necessary change the requirements based on market conditions. A good collaborative ALM system will help both the customer and delivery teams to collaborate continuously from the beginning to the end ensuring that high-quality, highly effective software is produced to help businesses and customers succeed in their endeavors.
Now that we have seen the advantages, let’s quickly look into the ALM tools. ALM is made possible by a set of project management tools that bring people and processes together. For tracking application changes, there are a variety of ALM solutions available. These range from dedicated application lifecycle management tools that track a program from start to finish, automatically classifying files into logical buckets as changes are made, to simple wikis that need team members to manually record changes.
Users can establish project requirements and build user stories using the ALM tool, which can then be prioritized, scheduled, and broken down into detailed tasks for resource management. Users can utilize ALM tools to build, modify, and run test cases. Users can also use it to manage automated and manual tests, track issues, bugs, risks, and enhancements in the source code repository, and view a complete audit history of any changes made to the application.
Some popular examples of ALM tools are Inflectra, Atlassian ALM Works, Kovair ALM, Perforce Helix ALM among others.
A good ALM solution aids in the development of collaborative, transparent, and mature relationships between you and your customers thus making your business profitable. This can help keep your employees productive and happy. It’s incredibly important to have an ALM that works for you and caters to your business goals.