Understanding ALM

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It is now common practice for businesses to integrate their ecosystems and have a combined software delivery process to allow for more efficient and productive results. This is known as Application Lifecycle Management. Siemens defines it as “a standardized process of managing a software application or from its initial conception, through its different development phases and ongoing support, to its end of life”.

ALM is not to be confused with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), as ALM is more complex, having to handle more variables and adjustments in less time. ALM can include a number of areas such as project management, software architecture, computer programming and development, testing, integration, maintenance, and customer support. In simple terms, ALM is an environment where teams can work together on an application with the aim of automating processes.

What is the Main Role of ALM?

ALM allows teams to make better decisions regarding software and in a speedy fashion. It goes beyond the traditional Software Development Lifecycle because ALM is applied until an application is no longer required. ALM can be broken down into 3 core concepts:

Governance– The planning stage. The app must be defined, designed and all of the principal decisions such as resource management, user access, and data security must be made.

Development- The Software Development Lifecycle stage. The app is planned, built, tested, deployed, and updated when required. It can be separated (waterfall) or fully integrated (Agile/DevOps).

Operations and Maintenance- From deployment onwards. Once the app is deployed, it will need to be maintained, finding and solving issues with bugs and preparing for future updates.

Because these core concepts are collaborated on, feedback is more straightforward and issues can be resolved faster, with the final product being superior. Feedback across the phases is essential so that all team members are aware of the process from start to finish. This is particularly important when it comes to testing products, which is where ALM environments excel.

The mission of ALM is to create a working environment where multiple teams can work together in order to produce better products through improved communication and better decision making.

ALM Tools and Solutions

With various people working on a project, it is important that the correct tools are used in order to monitor changes made throughout production. It is worth bearing in mind the following activities when considering ALM:

  • Requirements management
  • Estimation and preparation
  • Source code management
  • Testing/Quality assurance
  • Deployment or DevOps
  • Maintenance/Support
  • Version control
  • Application portfolio management
  • Real-time planning and team communication

There are a number of advantages to using ALM software aside from working in a standardized environment where teams can collaborate. These benefits can include:

  • The automation and streamlining of the software development process
  • The ability to work on complicated projects with clear understandings
  • Advanced software production
  • Reduced costs
  • Less time-to-market
  • Extensive security solutions that comply with industry regulations

The Top ALM Tools of Today

There is a great range of tools available and individuals should research to find the best solutions for their projects, however, the following list contains some of the popular choices:

Jira– Atlassian provides a multitude of products that will fuse with each other. You can take advantage of issue tracking as well as plenty of plug-ins, add-ons, and modules to find individual solutions. Jira permits bug tracking and agile project management.

Confluence– Another Atlassian solution that will work with Jira to develop an open and shared workspace. It is dedicated to assisting with team organisation and project planning. It comes with easy to use templates, page labels, task tracking, and real-time notifications to manage all of the needs of a product and enhance productivity.

GitLab- This tool is web-based and it’s a single solution for the app’s whole lifecycle. With a Git-repository manager with wiki, issue-tracking, and CI/CD pipeline features to cover everything from project planning to source code management.

HP Application Lifecycle Management- Ideal for designing apps and testing, as well as developer management and defect management.

IBM Rational Team Concert- As well as being a software development tool suitable for change management, defect tracking, and source control, this tool is perfect for its responsiveness and flexibility.

Microsoft Azure DevOps Server 2019- This is considered one of the most prominent ALM tools with an integrated DevOps approach. There are multiple pre-built integrations and a library full of extensions allowing you to manage software during the whole lifecycle. Azure DevOps has the advantage of things like portfolio management.

ModernRequirements4DevoOps– A tool with the mission of speeding up the production process built straight into Azure DevOps and Team Foundation Server. Its highlights are the end-to-end traceability and the simple creation of metrics.

Rally- For agile software, Rally is a project management solution used in release planning, iteration planning, scheduled release backlog, and QA activity management.

Micro Focus Quality Center– Previously branded as HP Quality Center, this tool helps users to create top-quality apps that are scalable. It has comprehensive platforms and can create rich reports.

DevSuite ALM Solution– This is both cloud-based and fully integrated. It covers all ALM processes for the management of traditional and agile development projects.

Siemens Polarion– Another integrated ALM solution with features for multiple projects and perfect for complex systems in every stage of the lifecycle.

Specific ALM Tools

Similar to the Top AML tools, there is such an array of AML tools that it is difficult to find one that suits your needs. The following list includes tools with certain, specific features:

  • Spirateam- test cases, open architecture, +easy integration and extension
  • Tuleap- Open source ALM offering an open framework for a large number of typical project tasks
  • CollabNet VersionOne- A toolkit for automation, idea management, budgeting, and more
  • Perforce HelixALM- A modular suite of ALM tools to manage each stage of the project for the entire application lifecycle
  • Rommana ALM- For all requirements from stories management to document management with fully integrated tools and methodologies
  • CodeBeamer- Covers all types of requirements, especially automation and streamlining, reducing costs, and maintaining safety
  • SwiftAML- Suitable for both traditional and agile projects that need extreme amounts of planning and tracking

How to Implement ALM Software Tools into your Business

There are essential things you should look for with your team before you choose an ALM solution and this will often depend on your project. Features such as resource tracking, prioritising, and scheduling requirements and user stories, task and requirement assigning, bug tracking and enhancement, and creating to executing test cases are all a must. Other features you should try to look for will be:

  • Map tests to requirements in order to track
  • Executing tests
  • Manual and automated test management
  • Personalisation of dashboards and their reporting abilities
  • Full audit history

In Conclusion

As we have mentioned before, with such a large range of ALM tools, it is important to choose the one that suits your needs, at the same time, you can consider using a combination of tools. Try to avoid concentrating solely on the present and choose tools that will serve you in the future too. Remember, the goal is to implement ALM tools that reduce your development time, lower your costs, and encourage the creation of innovative, high-quality software applications.