Products in this category help organizations design, develop, test, deploy, manage, and maintain software applications throughout their lifecycle. Key modules of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software include requirements management, test management, release management, and change management. For instance, change management refers to a product’s ability to adopt changes in requirements during the development phase of a project. Some important features to consider in ALM software include its agile capability, quality assurance, traceability, integration with other products, ability to handle multiple projects, and ability to determine key performance indicators. Read the full software guide...
Application lifecycle management, or ALM, is a coordinated and integrated system of processes, tools, and individuals or teams that facilitate the life of a software application, from conceptualization to retirement.
In practice, there are a few similarities between ALM and the software development lifecycle (SDLC). But, unlike SDLC, ALM is way more comprehensive when it comes to scope. The process typically involves the specification, design, development, and testing of a new software application.
ALM serves as an umbrella term in the software development and management process. It covers a wide array of practices and disciplines that were previously considered separate. These practices include project management, development testing, requirements management, quality assurance of software applications, customer support, and IT service delivery.
ALM requires specific tools and services that allow for a standardized environment for collaboration and communication between teams from the development side to testing and operations, as well as other related departments. ALM also helps to automate the process of software development and delivery.
Depending on the organization’s software development approach or methodology, ALM can either be divided into several distinct phases or fully integrated into a cohesive and continuous software delivery process. Regardless of the approach, however, ALM can be broken down into three core elements: application governance, application development, and application operations.
Application governance is an element of ALM where all decisions and ideas are made and conceptualized with regards to the software application. In essence, governance starts with business case development. This is where the idea or the concept of the application is mapped to a strategic business outcome.
Application governance includes several key processes: resource management, user access, and data security. If an organization is dealing with a multitude of software applications, application portfolio management becomes an integral part of the process.
As aforementioned, the development phase of ALM is referred to by most IT experts as the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This aspect of ALM is comprised of a few key processes, including the design process, building, identifying current issues/problems, planning, testing, software deployment, and updating the application.
Additionally, just like governance, application development will depend on the organization’s development approach whether the phases are tackled as separate steps or fully integrated for efficiency and flexibility.
Application operations are the third element of the ALM process. The operations phase includes the actual deployment of the application and the maintenance process of the technology stack.
In a waterfall development approach, operations are essentially a separate phase from the software development process. With ALM, DevOps brings together both operations and development and combines them into a fully integrated and continuous process.
The scope of what the ALM plan covers may vary from one business to the next. Some organizations may even include customer support and help desk activities in their ALM plan. But, more often than not, the lifecycle of an application includes requirement specifications, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
Finding the perfect ALM platform is neither a simple, nor a straightforward process. The perfect solution for one organization may not be the best fit for another. Additionally, a one-size-fits-all solution may not be the most suitable option for a company with unique or specific needs.
Before you start researching available ALM platforms in the market, there are a few key aspects you first need to discover about your software development process.
Firstly, start by carefully assessing your current development environment. Secondly, observe and analyze your company’s internal processes when it comes to software development. Thirdly, figure out and study closely the main issues that your team is facing with your current setup.
Never expect to find a unicorn ALM solution that will resolve all of the issues that you’re facing and will also cater to every need right out of the box. If a perfect solution you like does in fact exist, you wouldn’t be reading this guide right now. The more likely scenario is that you will find a rather flexible ALM platform and tailor it to your own specific requirements.
In your journey to finding the most suitable ALM solution for your business, you will undoubtedly encounter ALM tools that claim to be a complete solution. Any platform that claims this should consist of at least the following modules:
The important factor here is finding an ALM solution that has a flexible architecture, enabling organizations to fine-tune and customize settings, workflows, reports, and other internal processes. Furthermore, of course, you will want a platform that is easy to use and implement.
When it comes to the platform’s features and capabilities, there are a few that you should take into consideration. The following are some of the general capabilities and features you should look for in ALM platforms/solutions:
When you begin your research into the different ALM platforms available in the market, be sure to consider the aforementioned characteristics and capabilities of what a decent and suitable ALM solution should be. Not all solutions are created equal. Some are more comprehensive than others, while a few may show great potential for little investment.
There are three main benefits ALM offers to software development teams and businesses, especially when the appropriate solution or platform is utilized: direction, speed and agility, and better decision making.
ALM provides a clear and precise direction for an application even before it is built. When designing and developing software applications, it is vital that IT teams and developers know exactly which direction they want to take in creating the app. A good ALM platform and best practices will help facilitate that.
In the world of software development, speed and agility are crucial. Without a reliable and comprehensive ALM solution, app developers and teams would never be able to produce a software application at the pace required to remain competitive in a constantly evolving business environment.
Finally, with a reliable and efficient ALM platform, IT teams and decision-makers will be able to make better and more informed decisions as the software ages and approaches retirement.
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Bug Tracking||Log and track issues to capture, report and monitor bugs for the purposes of software development and maintenance.|
|Data Export||Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.|
|Data Import||Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|