For almost a decade, major software vendors have been marketing the concept of Application Lifecycle Management as a way to coordinate software development activities, and the result has been mixed. According to Forrester, three quarters of software and services decision makers at American and European enterprises are aware of this emerging discipline.
Nearly 29 percent of IT shops are using ALM, and only 23 percent are not aware of it. Of the companies that are not using ALM, almost 60 percent are either interested in using it or are in the process of starting a pilot in the next 12 months. However, despite strong awareness and interest, Forrester also found that the understanding level of ALM is low and the vendor offerings have been slow to hit the market.
Question: Our management team is extremely agile resistant, saying that there is no research or history to this practice—or no link to better productivity, despite recent statistics that disagree. What can I tell them to show that this is actually a way to engage millennials, the largest section of the current workforce? And to show that it also has a proven track record of maximizing high productivity, even if it wasn’t called by the same name?
Since agile was conceived in 2001 in Snowbird, Utah, it is 100% American in origin. The rest of the world had never tried these practices until the results of this famous meeting were released through a series of speeches, articles and conversations.
Agile principles rest on the behaviors Douglas McGregor believed to be basic to most workers, called Theory X. Because it suggests that people dislike work and try to avoid it, the more lax workplace of an agile team tricks them into thinking they are in management.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming developed the earliest agile-like philosophy, which he called the Hierarchy of Needs. If a manager can meet all of the needs for the employee, productivity will soar. If even one is left unfulfilled, project outcomes will be subpar.
Agile actually is an outgrown of the Japanese motivational theories of Dr. William Ouchi’s “Japanese Management” style from the 1980s. By now, the concepts have been well tested and proven to be effective in the modern-day workplace, first in Japan and then in other locations around the globe.
Do your team members really believe they can trust you? If this doesn’t strike you as important, you may want to examine your leadership skills. As this practitioner reflects on her actions (and the actions of colleagues that have earned success and failure), she has noticed a pattern....
Consolidating and reporting all aspects of a project can be a challenge. Experience with managing projects teaches the importance of emphasizing relevant data versus following a prescribed format—follow these key points to create a template for dashboard reporting that is tailored to the needs of your audience.
Old Wine in New Bottle or a Useful Approach An application lifecycle is the continuum of activities required to support an enterprise application from its initial inception through its deployment and system optimization. According to Butler Group, a European IT research company, the management of an application lifecycle as opposed to its development is more effective and concerns much broader issues than those of project processes and methodology. It covers a variety of software lifecycle activities including project management, project tracking, development processes, configuration management, quality control, IT governance, IT portfolio management and release management.
The coordination of development lifecycle activities, including requirements, modeling, development, build, and testing, through: 1) enforcement of processes that span these activities; 2) management of relationships between development artifacts used or produced by these activities; and 3) reporting on progress of the development effort as a whole.
March Toward Integration
Over the years, ALM has emerged as a discipline and a product category. It is gaining recognition and adoption not only because of the push from vendors and analysts, but also due to its benefits. ALM significantly improves project success rates, improves the quality of software delivered, reduces development time and makes software development more visible to higher business management.
Even though there are significant benefits of the management of application development as an end-to-end business process, there are many barriers to adoption of this perspective.
As ALM is gaining acceptance, its commercial potential is increasing and more vendors are trying to fill the market gap by providing solutions for it. Many vendors like Borland, IBM, Microsoft, Serena, Telelogic etc. are rolling out products that inter-relate many lifecycle phases and make application development a repeatable business process. These solutions allow development teams to define and execute consistent lifecycle processes. They provide real-time visibility into the application portfolio, enabling management to make investment decisions and determine the status of projects. They provide quick and easy access to all lifecycle information and enhance the communication between various teams.
Today’s ALM solutions have gradually evolved through accumulation of individual tools rather than through a focused design. One reason for this accretion is that products and tools automating and supporting lifecycle phases were introduced when needed without a master plan for a complete ALM solution. Once these tools demonstrated their usefulness to development teams, then a new demand arose for interaction amongst them. The business opportunity became obvious, and vendors started to put together an effective solution by integrating these tools.
Forrester calls today’s solutions to be ALM 1.0. Their major characteristic is that there is a single tool for each role. These tools may not be uniform and vary by company, business units, teams and individuals. They have redundant features in areas like workflow, collaboration, reporting, analytics and security, which maintain functional silos eliminating cross-lifecycle transparency. They have micro-processes (workflows in quality management tools) embedded in each practitioner tools and macro-processes (connectors between two tools), embedded in tool integrations that increase the effort spent in building and maintaining synchronizations.
More on the Horizon: ALM 2.0
Despite many inherent limitations in today’s ALM solutions, the market for them is growing. Forrester estimates that enterprises spend more than $5 billion on new licenses for ALM tools ever year. This is bound to go up as vendors graduate to ALM 2.0 from a collection of lifecycle tools to a platform for coordination of development activities.
Industry experts say that the newer versions of ALM solutions will offer tools assembled out of plug-ins, and customers will pay for only the features that they need. Common services like collaboration, workflow, security, reporting and analytics will be available across tools and built into the platform. ALM 2.0 will be repository neutral with no need to migrate old assets unlike today’s solutions, which require the use of the same vendor’s SCM solution for storage of all lifecycle assets. The new generation of solutions will use open integration standards, allowing for deeper integration with third part tools. They will have processes as versionable assets and share common components.
There is no vendor who is providing these features today, but many are working toward it. Butler Group thinks that product offerings from Borland, Compuware, IBM and Telelogic are a cut above the competition. Microsoft, Mercury and Serena also offer products with strong functionality and performance. Most of these solutions are proprietary, which improves integration between tools by the same vendor but not with competing vendors. On the one hand, it improves the operations and support for ALM solutions. But on the other hand, it increases users’ dependence upon one vendor. Still, there is no doubt that the market for ALM solutions is fragmented, but emerging and more exciting products will be offered that will enable IT teams deliver faster-to-market, high quality software products.
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