With the ever-increasing speed and frequency of software delivery cycles, businesses need a way to effectively manage their software from beginning to end. Application lifecycle management (ALM) addresses that need, overseeing the continuous process of managing the life of an application from initial idea to eventual retirement. It is a superset of SDLC, as SDLC only covers the development phase.
While it is a broad category encompassing many topics, ALM can be broken down into three essential components:
Governance is a framework that helps organizations to align IT strategy with business strategy. It begins with business case development, where the idea for an application is mapped to a business outcome. Resource management, data security, and user access must also be considered so that organizations can meet internal and external requirements.
Development is the process of creating software to solve a problem. It involves planning, designing, building, testing, deploying, and updating the application.
Operations involves deploying and maintaining the holistic performance of all applications. The goal is to manage the response times of the application ecosystem and closely monitor its performance.
ALM tools typically serve multiple purposes, merging a large number of disciplines under the same umbrella. They are usually sold as suites, with modules that can be purchased individually. Finding the right ALM tool can be hard, as there are countless options. It’s unlikely to find ALM software that does everything you need right out of the box, but you can always mix and match software or customize what you have to get the desired functionality.
Key features of ALM tools include: requirements management, planning, source code management and version control, testing, deployment, traceability, collaboration, scheduling and resource allocation, dashboards and reports, and application portfolio management.
Agile-focused ALM tools should also have user stories, backlogs, kanban boards, and so forth.
When deciding which ALM tool is suitable, you should consider:
1. What tools are you already using?
2. What is the size of your organization?
3. Do you need portfolio management?
4. Is your industry highly regulated? What are your compliance needs?
5. What methodology are you using? Do you need an Agile tool?
6. Is it an integrated suite? If not, does it integrate to other tools?
7. What is the pricing and licensing structure?
8. Is the tool on-premises or SaaS?
9. What is the availability of hosting platforms, support, and training?
ALM tools help organizations to deliver quality releases faster, with compliance and visibility. They also provide an integrated system for development, which connects disparate tools, teams, and processes while improving communication between IT and the business. This accelerates software development and delivery velocity, helping businesses to stay competitive. Many ALM tools have features like version control and real-time planning, which assist team leaders in making decisions and creating a roadmap for the future.
On the ground level, other benefits of ALM tools include: a standardized environment for collaboration, automation of the development process, better code quality, lower costs, faster time-to-market, streamlined and standardized workflows, and better support for compliance.
IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next is a scalable management solution for the communication, collaboration, and verification of your requirements, making it easy to link and track between customer objectives, system requirements, software requirements, diagnostics, and validation while maintaining compliance with your industry’s specific regulations and standards.Visit Website
Helix ALM is a very flexible agile project management solution that provides easy ways to manage requirements, tests, and defects in one place. Its modular structure allows you to license only the capabilities you need now, and easily add others later.Visit Website
Manage quality and implement rigorous, auditable lifecycle processes with Micro Focus ALM/Quality Center. Designed for complex multi-application environments, it enables organizations to achieve high efficiency in their testing and measure quality with a requirements-driven and risk-based testing approach.Visit Website
Jama Connect® is a product development platform that creates Living Requirements to form a digital thread through siloed development, test, and risk activities. It has a high-level configuration of items, types, and relationships. Additionally, the review center comes with powerful filtering capabilities and utilities to compare items and track history.
Codebeamer by Intland Software is a complete ALM solution to simplify complex product and software engineering at scale. It offers all-in-one requirements like task tracking, planning, requirements, risk management, version control, and testing. It also provides a workflow engine, document management, and wiki.Visit Website
Modern CI/CD, open-source, on-premise system that is highly scalable and focused on testing.
– flexible workflow planning using Starlark/Python;
– distributed building and testing;
– various executors: bare metal, docker, lxd, VM;
– highly scalable to thousands of executors;
– sophisticated test results analysis;
– email and slack notifications
Aha! is a cloud-based project management tool that supports agile and scrum workflows. It allows users to create product, technology, consulting, manufacturing and marketing roadmaps. Primary features include task lists, product roadmaps, Kanban boards, collaboration and analytics. With Aha! it’s easy to rank different features, see them on a Gantt chart, and figure out the strategy for a release of multiple features, all while keeping key stakeholders in the loop.
Aha! is a full-featured and complex product, and as such, has a bit of a learning curve. However, support for the product is generally considered to be helpful and responsive.Visit Website
Versionone is an enterprise-level agile ALM solution offered by CollabNet. It is particularly useful for large organizations looking to implement Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and is available in four packages: Team, Catalyst, Enterprise, and Ultimate. While it excels in reporting and tracking and has great tools for scrum masters, it can be slow, lacks the customization of other comparable software, and has a clumsy user interface.Visit Website
Phabricator is an open source software development platform written in PHP. Its applications include the Differential code review tool, Diffusion repository browser, Herald change monitoring tool, Maniphest bug tracker, Phriction wiki, Conpherence chat, and Conduit API. You can download and install it on your own hardware for free, or launch a hosted instance that gives access to automatic updates, maintenance, and support.
It’s fast, scales well, and is best suited for large projects with multiple repositories. While the UI has been criticized for being unintuitive, it is customizable and can be tailored to your specific team.Visit Website
Similar to Jira and Trello, Asana is a flexible and lightweight project management tool that facilitates communication among teams by managing tasks and workflows. It has an approachable to-do list structure with additional features like a calendar, project timeline, work reporting, goal completion tracking, notifications, and kanban boards. While Jira is specifically targeted towards IT, Asana is more generic in nature and therefore more versatile. Its thoughtful design and intuitive interface make it especially appealing for marketing and business teams.
Asana integrates with a wide range of SaaS tools, including Gmail, Slack, Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and Zendesk.Visit Website
Pivotal Tracker is a web-based agile project management tool that is used almost exclusively for Scrum development. It has points built into stories and provides burnup, burndown, and velocity charts out-of-the-box. It allows developers to collaborate in real time around a shared, prioritized backlog, with features that include automatic planning, multi-project workspaces and performance analytics. It can also be used for issue tracking.
Pivotal Tracker is inflexible in the sense that it is not easy to customize, but it has a large pool of integrations that extend its functionality. It’s best suited for big development teams with well-established processes.Visit Website
Formerly known as 37signals, Basecamp is a cloud collaboration tool for keeping track of priorities and actionable items. It provides a simple interface for users to manage projects, teams, and schedules, with features like to-do lists, calendars, message boards, file sharing, and chat. It especially shines when used to share project progress and milestones with clients due to its approachability and ease of use.Visit Website