As an IT leader in the enterprise, you need to increase efficiency. Your customers expect faster software releases. They want more value with each new release. They want an enterprise partner responsive to their needs. You need to deliver greater value to customers. They expect more, and they expect you to reduce their costs. It’s not easy – we know. But, with the right tools, you can use Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) methodologies to meet goals. Agile ALM is the key to unlocking efficiencies in the enterprise. We’ll show you how modern ALM Tools for agile software development can help.
Once the right ALM tools are in place, you can reduce costs. You can also increase efficiency across the application’s lifecycle. You’ll discover how agile ALM unlocks continuous delivery and enterprise agility. You’ll also learn how it can increase the value customers have come to expect.
What Is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)?
ALM touches every phase of the product lifecycle of a software application. ALM helps companies better use enterprise Information Technology (IT) and software development resources. With ALM, you can easily develop, test, release, and maintain market-leading software applications.
Keep this in mind: The Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is not the same as ALM. It focuses only on the phases of development. ALM may include many SDLCs as new versions or updates are released.
The Uses of Application Lifecycle Management
What does ALM do? Here are some of the things it can do for you and the enterprise:
- Organize, synchronizes and coordinate the lifecycle activities for developing or changing software applications:
- Quality Assurance
- Release and Deployment
- Software maintenance
- Document and track workflow and completion
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The History of ALM
Much like the Waterfall software development process, early generation ALM was based on manufacturing practices like Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) . It used a top-down, rigid management process. With ALM, enterprise IT had the control. ALM helped fill in the gaps when there were no best practices or standard processes. It provided a synchronized framework for developing, releasing, and supporting applications.
ALM enables organizations to better track and manage work on any given application. With ALM, leadership could see what was being done and what came next. This provided better management of IT and development resources. The business could more accurately forecast expenses. Historical records, development data, and information could be used to increase efficiency. This data helped foresee and manage costs associated with each release.
Like PLM, ALM could reduce the time and resources required to bring an app to the market. This, in turn ensured efficient support once the application was released to end users. Team productivity increased. It reduced risk by centralizing and documenting project information.
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Benefits of ALM In The Enterprise
Companies looking to turn enterprise applications into business success were quick to adopt ALM processes. Business elements in the enterprise were interested in better tracking progress and managing project requirements.
ALM provides the business with more visibility. This in turn, gives them more control over every phase of the application lifecycle. It synchronizes the people, processes, tools, and procedures for repeatable and predictable software development and support.
When successfully implemented, ALM allows the enterprise to develop, share, and enforce best practices in software development. The teams working on an application can better collaborate. Information and requirements flowed seamlessly across the organization. This reduces the time and resources necessary for development. With ALM in place, work is synchronized, and development accelerated. ALM eliminates errors and problems that plagued early software development.
Problems with Traditional ALM
Despite ALM’s early success, some of its relevance is now lost. Many of the standard practices traditional ALM was designed to support no longer apply to modern software development.
Much like the Waterfall method, traditional ALM can no longer sustain its value to modern enterprise organizations. The techniques and practices that once provided visibility and control, now limit enterprise agility. Effective agile leaders must manage change, instead of exerting control over development.
Today, IT organizations are struggling under the restrictions and limits of the top down approach of traditional ALM. This is especially true as more IT leaders embrace agile methodologies. Here are some examples of ways in which continuous delivery is inhibited by traditional ALM.
Specialized Vs. Integrative Teams
Traditional ALM uses specialized teams for each phases of the application lifecycle. For example:
- Business development (requirements)
In theory, these teams should operate horizontally. Work, information, and deliverables should flow from one team to the next.
Over time, however, individual teams tend to compartmentalize. Work and information cycle inside departments are never released or shared. The results:
- Vertical silos, disconnected and insulated from the enterprise
- Communication and collaboration are lost
- Hostility between different teams on the same project
- Team members compete rather than collaborate
- Enterprise inefficiency
Linear Vs. Iterative Phases
Traditional ALM uses distinct phases, which are both linear and sequential. Work on one phase can’t begin, until work is complete on the previous phase. Modern development requires iterative work cycles.
Agile is anything but linear or sequential. The strict process enforced by traditional ALM gives IT leadership and application managers control and visibility. In doing so, it limits the flexibility and adaptability. Both are powerful benefits of agile. Many developers and IT resources resent ALM as they struggle to work within the confines of the system.
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ALM Software for the Enterprise
Effective ALM project management tools should support all aspects of the software lifecycle. The tool should enhance communication, collaboration, and task tracking.
The difficulty for the enterprise is in selecting the right tool. Many tools still support traditional ALM, even as the enterprise turns to agile and a continuous delivery models. The design of the tool is another consideration for IT leaders. Each phase of the application lifecycle has different requirements and needs. This warrants different functionality, and perhaps even a different tool.
Many companies struggle to kickstart enterprise ALM. Problems are common, depending on how the enterprise approaches a potential solution. What are the options for enterprises looking for ALM tools?
Best-of-Breed ALM Tools
A “best-of-breed” approach will select an individual tool for each phase of the application lifecycle. For example, the development team will select the best ALM tools for their tasks. Testers will choose the tool that works best for them.
Unfortunately, most companies discover that a mix of individual tools doesn’t deliver the expected benefit. Best-of-breed tools don’t mean best-of-breed process. Integrating individual tools by different vendors is difficult and frustrating. Rather than improving the process, the best-of-breed approach results in new inefficiencies.
Integrated ALM Solutions
Other companies look for a single system to support the ALM process. Such a package would include tools that manage every phase using a pre-integrated resource.
In practice, most integrated ALM systems leave gaps. Gaps create inefficiency. These systems can’t adequately support the entire application lifecycle. This is because most solutions are originally based on a single function. The software was never meant to address the entire ALM process.
For example, a software testing tool would provide an effective test management resource. Other tools in the system are designed with testing in mind. They provide less benefit to other users.
The Enterprise Moves Away from Traditional ALM
Traditional ALM can’t adequately support modern enterprise IT needs. Many of the tools on the market don’t deliver the support and functionality required for modern, agile software development. Companies are now looking at alternative solutions.
Software development is also changing. Agile has completely disrupted the enterprise development landscape. Developers, CIOs, and IT leaders recognize the benefit of agile. They see how agile delivers higher productivity and lower costs. The enterprise needs an ALM tool that supports agile and modern software development.
Consider this: What do you need to do to make ALM work for agile? How can you deliver the benefits of agile alongside the visibility and control of ALM? The answer is easier than you might think.
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Connecting Agile and ALM
Agile is a game-changer for modern enterprise software development. Agile means shorter, iterative work cycles. Each cycle builds on previous versions of the software and ends with a finished product. End-users can review the finished product at the cycle’s end. The team can use that feedback to continually improve the product.
With agile, development teams are enjoying the following benefits:
- Team members can better adapt and control the development process as requirements change
- Small teams can rapidly deliver value
- Quick iterations and continual end-user feedback
- Flexibility and autonomy for developers’ decision-making
- Constant product improvement.
Agile Software Development Tools
Besides agile, new web and cloud-based technologies are changing the developing of enterprise applications. For example, products like Git and GitHub improve collaboration. Teams can track changes in code using revision control and integrate updates. This increases the efficiency of development teams.
Software test automation is another tool for software development. It shortens the time between coding and defect identification. It allows a rapid feedback loop between development and testing. Testing starts soon after writing the code. This is what you call the “shift-left” testing.
Agile and these new technologies have unlocked continuous integration for the enterprise. Teams can now work faster, with fewer errors and greater efficiency. Rapid software updates are now possible. It enables the modern enterprise to carry out continuous delivery. This is the key to delivering greater value to customers.
Unlocking Continuous Delivery Using Agile ALM Tools
Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment all deliver value for customers and clients.
Agile and agile tools support these processes. These help the enterprise deliver consistent and sustainable results. Continuous delivery and agile together deliver the strategic edge that the enterprise needs. They can unlock the efficiency and productivity many companies struggle to access.
Continuous delivery isn’t easy. The goal for many CIO and IT Leaders is to build and update production code many times each day. They need to use automation where possible. Integrating open-source testing as well as source control is necessary.
In the age of continuous delivery, traditional ALM can’t provide enterprise needs. ALM needs to incorporate the agile method.
Consider this: Have you used continuous delivery for your customers? What is holding you back from utilizing continuous delivery? For many enterprise IT leaders and CIOs, it’s not the processes holding them back, but the tools. Agile ALM tools are the key to unlocking enterprise agility and continuous delivery.
Agile Tools Used in the Modern Enterprise
Traditional ALM tools focus on specific functions in the application lifecycle. Agile ALM tools differ in both the philosophy and functionality from traditional ALM tools.
Agile ALM tools support standard agile practices. They easily integrate with core agile processes. The tools provide access to critical information for all stakeholders. They also support the communication between the development team, testing, project managers, and business users.
What types of agile ALM tools are in use by enterprises?
1. Web- and Cloud-Based Agile Tools
As mentioned earlier, technologies such as Git, GitHub, test automation, package management, and virtual machines changed software development.
Web and cloud-based technologies allow dispersed teams to work together easily. It’s as if they were sitting in the same office. With cloud-based technology helping the project, the team can better manage change. These tools support the iterative, collaborative development process, which is the foundation of agile. They are a critical part of the delivery pipeline.
2. Collaboration and Agile Tools
Many of the earliest agile tools that enhanced collaboration were simple. They can be as simple as using a whiteboard, sticky notes, and a pen.
Sprint planning tools like Jira provide a visual catalog of critical project information. With the team linked to the collaboration tool, each member connects to a central location. All communication automatically registers for a permanent project record.
Today, collaboration tools connect team members, regardless of their physical whereabouts. They keep everyone focused on critical project tasks and speed up project velocity. Rapid delivery requires seamless collaboration and communication across teams, regardless of physical location.
3. Automation and Continuous Delivery
Test automation is an important agile tool. It saves both time and money during development.
Automation lets developers focus on higher value tasks with no loss of product quality or project velocity. More benefits of automation for continuous delivery include reduced errors and lower costs.
Many IT leaders and CIOs have unlocked shift left testing using test automation. This helps ensure a working product is available for end-user review at the end of a work cycle.
4. Customer Feedback and Continuous Delivery
The feedback loop between the development team and end users is critical to agile. Frequent and continual feedback from IT and business users ensures a high-value product. This feedback fuels improvements even after the initial requirements have been set.
Agile tools like Mendix add discipline to the feedback while facilitating the process. They make it easy for end users to provide the information the team needs. Agile tools also reduce the effort of managing conflicting feedback. With this, the team can deliver the best product possible.
Agile ALM Tools and Modern Application Development
Today, agile ALM tools have become the foundation for modern software development. They support enterprise agility and continuous delivery. As a result, developers can focus on rapidly delivering high-quality products. Customers get their hands on new products faster. Users provide feedback almost immediately. Feedback can quickly and easily integrate into the product with each new work cycle. Enterprises can correct issues and add more value with each new release. This is the edge that the modern enterprise is looking for and customers expect.
Consider this: What tools do you currently use? Do they support enterprise agility and continuous delivery? Are these tools connected? Let’s look at how your organization can meet the challenge with agile ALM tools.
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Panaya Release Dynamix: Modern ALM for Continuous Delivery
Panaya Release Dynamix (RDx) is a continuous delivery solution for enterprise IT. It uses agile concepts and methods. RDx provides integrated, agile ALM tools on a single, unified platform.
The platform supports the entire application lifecycle. This means, enterprise IT can deliver software products and changes faster, without compromising on quality. It can execute application changes from ideation, through requirements and on to programming and development using a single platform.
Align Resources to Enterprise Strategy
With Value Stream Management, you can track the IT investment in applications and software development.
- Align your IT resources with enterprise strategy
- Synchronize work, keep stakeholders informed across business, testing, development, delivery
- Calculate your return on investment in applications and technology services
- Maximize resources and optimize the value of work
Manage the Rapid Release Cycle
Release Management is another RDx feature. It provides you and your team visual dashboards.
- Follow system reports on the scope and status of releases across projects
- Use dashboards to track the completion of requirements for each project
- Gain visibility and control over every phase of the application lifecycle.
- Benefit from development transparency with real-time information on project execution
- Use burndown charts to execute agile planning
- Use Kanban flows to better manage IT and developer resources
Reduce Risk and Improve Quality
Panaya Release Dynamix helps teams reduce risk by using shift-left testing. With RDx, release managers can identify defects early and fix them before they negatively impact schedule and costs. Features include:
- Built-in risk mitigation dashboards
- Out-of-the-box impact analysis
- Automated code quality reviews
- risk-based testing
- Real-time risk analysis
Release Dynamix: The Enterprise Agility Platform
With the right tools, your application lifecycle management can deliver greater value. Apply RDx for actionable insight and higher efficiency across the application lifecycle. Enhance collaboration with centrally connected activities and workflows. Unlock enterprise agility and continuous delivery to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Better project control and actionable data will help you make informed decision and gain release certainty.
Enterprise IT leaders are already reporting the benefits of using Panaya Release Dynamix.