10 Benefits of Integrated ALM

10 Benefits of Integrated ALM

Introduction

Application development organizations spend millions of dollars a year on a multitude of siloed point function tools encompassing requirement management, design/architecture management, coding, configuration management, build, testing, defect tracking, release management, and more. These tools live in isolation which makes users rely mostly on traditional and broken manual procedures while synchronizing data of one tool with the other. These isolated tools do not play well together, therefore, cannot provide a coherent development setup.

You may also find some point-to-point fragile and hardwired integrations between tools in organizations that commit to a single provider for sourcing all their required tools. Organizations that choose best-of-breed tools from different vendors, suited to different lifecycle phases also lack an effective integration mechanism in their tool setup. Here are the ten compelling reasons why an organization must connect these multiple lifecycle tools and achieve an optimum application development environment for its teams.

1. Gain Greater Insight

Lack of data visibility into day-to-day activities of an application development project is a big problem 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 status. It is important that developers and testers have the ability to ensure code quality and performance throughout the lifecycle process. This needs quality of work to be validated at every stage and defects to be identified and removed early in the process, not at the end of it.

In a non-synchronized development environment, achieving an end-to-end visibility of tool-specific information is a big challenge.

All these tools need to be connected to unlock the hidden data and enable all the project stakeholders to share the same pool of up-to-date information real time. A connected ecosystem of tools allows every individual, team, and organization to gain greater insight into the application development, thus helping them to do their job in a much better and informed way. Efficiency can only be achieved through full visibility into projects, people, costs, and items across the lifecycle.

2. Enact Best Practice Processes

Organizations, developing software applications find it very difficult to set up an integrated and uniform engineering process across SDLC stages, when the tools used by stakeholders at different stages are disconnected.

Without an interconnected set of tools, it is almost impossible to integrate the above engineering processes carried out in different practitioner tools and more than likely, distributed at the multiple locations. Paper-based processes are commonly used to control handoffs between functional areas. Integrated engineering process automates these handoffs and ensures proper communication,

synchronization, and feedback exchange between these stage level processes. These are essential for any successful application development.
Organizations establish several best-practice processes like Requirements Validation, Code Review and Verification, Test Coverage for Requirements, Build Verification, Risk identification and mitigation, Check for Release Readiness, Change Management, and more spanning one or more lifecycle stages and tools.

Connecting the tools is a must for an organization to disseminate, implement, and automate its methodology and best practice processes universally across the lifecycle tools so that the methodology becomes a natural part of the organization’s business process. Automated and executable process models used across these integrated set of tools ensure strict process adherence and achieve consistency, repeatability, and predictability.

Corporations face the daunting task of ensuring effective compliance requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley, CMMI, ITIL, ISO, Six Sigma, and others. Compliance requirements make the overall traceability across all application lifecycle items a necessity, which is practical only if lifecycle tools are connected to each other. Organizations need an environment, where these compliance efforts can be automated and built into the process throughout the application development stages in order to achieve sustainable compliance.

3. Overcome Challenges for Globally Distributed Development

Today, the Application development process is more global than ever. Projects increasingly involve multiple teams in disparate locations, often from multiple companies and countries. Enterprise level organizations often encounter a situation, where even for the same lifecycle domain people from different companies/countries with different cultures participate in application development process. It is often the case that one company using DOORS for Requirements definition and Perforce for SCM needs to work with another partner company using RequisitePro for Requirements and ClearCase for SCM. The challenge here for an enterprise is to accommodate different cultural and tools, yet remain connected in such a way that work is not duplicated, productivity is not sacrificed, and cross-cultural miscommunication is minimized. This is crucial, especially with many global business consolidations happening for enterprises.

Here the situation is even more complicated by the fact that people using different lifecycle tools are not sharing the same network, and their tools are behind the firewall in different networks. You will need a modern framework integrating tools behind firewalls across different networks that overcomes the structural challenges of working across remote locations, and ensures project outcome – on time, on budget, and on target with business goals.

4. Enable Collaboration between Stakeholders

Organizations need to provide real-time collaboration and coordination between the various functional teams, including customer, product team, development team, QA team and the testing team by seamlessly integrating different development tools and processes that best fit their needs.

Performing all these above activities in collaboration is possible, only when stakeholders’ tools are connected together. The integration ensures that all stakeholders during application development are in sync and perfect synergy. They share equal visibility into the development artifacts, activities, and project status. Their individual and team activities are synchronized with others and aligned with the ultimate project goals. They don’t waste time on manual syncing up of tasks and bloated meeting schedules. They feel unified and take accountability for the success or failure of the whole application development.

5. Increase Productivity & Deliver Faster

Connecting the tools used by different stakeholders throughout the application lifecycle stages brings huge opportunities for increasing the productivity of individuals and teams.

  • Integration enables implementing and enforcing best practice processes and proven methodologies that drive improvement in productivity.
  • Shorter development cycle and quicker software delivery decrease inter-stage transition time.
  • Teams can collaborate more efficiently and effectively, eliminating human errors and delivery delays.
  • Business analysts, architects, developers, testers, and project managers are able to carry out most of their application development activities using their preferred tools environment without requiring them to learn and use new tools. This saves a lot of training time for stakeholders.
  • Reduce inflated meetings, travel time, phone calls and unwanted rework by keeping all the stakeholders in sync and sharing the up-to-date information.
  • Automation of repetitive and tedious tasks saves a lot of time and effort.
  • Enable productivity improvement by analyzing trends and implementing metrics-based best management practices.

6. Enhance Customer Satisfaction

Integrated Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) breaks down the developer/customer barrier, enables rapid delivery of customer-driven value, and results in better customer satisfaction.

  • Integration enables business stakeholders and developers to collaborate seamlessly with the customers around common shared artifacts. This provides the opportunity to understand customer needs and expectations better.
  • Best-practice processes adopted throughout the lifecycle stages constantly ensure that all the development activities are aligned with the ultimate customer requirements. Customers get exactly what they have asked for.
  • Improved quality achieved through the integration helps to deliver a better product to the customer that works for their business.
  • Customer gets real-time updates on the application development progress and status because of the increased transparency and visibility into the lifecycle stages. Software quality and reliability are the lifelines to customer loyalty.
  • Integration facilitates quick response to customer requests and requirements with the support of an end-to-end traceability of lifecycle artifacts across the stages, and integrated change management process.
  • Integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Help Desk tools provides a transparent view of the progress of customer cases to all stakeholders, including customer support managers, sales, and the entire software development team. This helps organizations to be on the top of every customer issue.
  • Customer will instantly know the status of issues and when the fixes will be deployed.

7. Improve Quality

Integrating the application development lifecycle tools has direct and indirect influences on the overall quality of a software product. It improves quality by reducing the number of defects due to miscommunication, identifying inconsistencies between requirements, enabling efficient testing, and generally ensuring that the final application meets the needs and expectations of users. Quality is the sum total of effectiveness, efficiency, and visibility.

  • Accomplishing tasks with a quality outcome often requires wider vision and an extended access to related information/knowledgebase. In an IT environment, linked information from disparate tools needs to be exposed to the right stakeholders at the right time – for them to come up with ‘Quality’. This plays a big role behind the success of IT projects. With integration in place, architects, developers, and testers have ready and real-time access to the lifecycle artifacts from within their own tool. Hence, they become more informed to do better design, coding, and testing activities. All these result in a better quality software.
  • Integration ensures code quality and performance throughout the lifecycle processes. Quality of work is validated at every stage, and defects are caught during the process, instead of at the end of it.
  • Enforce and automate some of the best practice quality verification processes like code analysis, unit testing, checking code coverage, continuous build verification, root cause analysis, and more by integrating the relevant tools. Capture these detailed test results/defects to analyze and take smarter decisions to improve quality. Strong analytics help users to anticipate problems before they actually arrive.
  • Better change management practices help to minimize quality issues arising out of changes in requirements, designs, and code files. Understanding change dependencies and impacts are the key to optimize quality.

8. Collect Actionable Metrics & Intelligence

Organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to get the facts needed to build an up-to-date and reliable picture of application development projects, and then obtain accurate measures against business goals, and deliver simple actionable intelligence. Typically, in the absence of an automated metrics collection program across the disconnected lifecycle tools, managers rely on team members to provide these inputs, and the result is a bunch of inconsistent, imprecise, subjective, static, non–granular, and hard-to-collate information. The absence of factual insights leads to missed deadlines, budget crunch, and fundamental erosion of trust and goodwill in a business relationship. Companies waste millions of dollars each year in project overruns, cancellations, and missed business goals. Senior managers often come across situations where finding answers to the following questions becomes a thing of nightmare.

Do you feel that the answers are not easily forthcoming? You need an automated metrics collection system integrated across application development lifecycle tools. This will provide you a decision intelligence solution that delivers relevant, objective, dynamic and granular metrics needed to make smart decisions influencing cost, quality, and time.

9. Manage Change with Confidence

Change is inevitable in any application development project. Embracing and managing change properly is a major challenge. Organizations find it difficult to keep all stakeholders in sync with the latest changes in application development and ensure the smooth change propagation through lifecycle silos. In the process, inconsistent information creeps in, resulting in wasted effort, productivity loss, incorrect delivery, and customer dissatisfaction.

To deal with the above scenarios, what we need is an end-to-end multi-directional traceability between the lifecycle artifacts and deliverables like requirements, models, source code, build scripts and test cases getting generated throughout the application development stages by different stakeholders using different tools.
Organizations find it challenging to correlate application lifecycle items when they are maintained in isolated tools by people from different functional areas. Without an end-to-end traceability, enterprises will continue to deliver applications that diverge through the lifecycle from the original requirements. A connected set of lifecycle tools makes it easier for the application development teams to better assess the impact of changes, track the full history, automate change propagation, and thus keep everyone on the same page and reduce change reaction time. This integration framework has to be flexible enough to support all of the above integration requirements. You should be able to plug any tool from any vendor any time to your integrated tools ecosystem and follow your best practice process irrespective of the tools chosen.

10. Plug and Play tools

Organizations invest heavily on buying the best-of-breed tools for different lifecycle stages and for training people about these tools. However, this does not allow them to harness the full potential of these tools and get the most value out of their investments. Integrating all or most of these tools can help you achieve an end-to-end ALM solution resulting in increased ROI, and process improvement. You need a comprehensive integration framework that can accommodate your existing tools and processes and don’t require you to retool your current processes, or to commit to a particular tool vendor.

Conclusion

You have purchased the best tools money can buy to make your development process more effective. You have trained your people in these expensive tools. But, you are not getting the most value out of these investments. You don’t have a consolidated picture of your whole development projects, but only the pieces of the puzzle.

You saw the great opportunities you have to achieve substantial savings in time and effort, and to ensure consistent quality by integrating the tools in your software engineering environment. With Kovair, you can have a single unified, automatically synchronized software engineering and collaboration system that avoids tool silos causing inconsistent information and inefficient processes. The net result is a better synchronization between IT and your business, delivering an enhanced business value to your customer and a competitive advantage.