Searching for the Best ALM Solution for Your Needs?

More and more companies realize that increasing the efficiency of their software development processes is pivotal if they don’t want to be left behind in an increasingly digital marketplace. Mature development teams rely on Application Lifecycle Management tools to reach that goal. Application Lifecycle Management tooling is a long-term investment. Finding the tool that fits your purposes is crucial.  

Searching for the Best ALM Solution for Your Needs?The lack of efficient collaboration, low process visibility, and minimal traceability that is ensured using burdensome procedures are among the most often-cited issues in software development teams. Most teams facing these problems soon come to realize where the problem lies: their software development and project management tools simply don’t support the elaborate processes they are using.  

Key factors to consider when evaluating ALM software 

Agile support

Even if you are currently relying on a Waterfall or V-model process, you might want to think about whether you’ll be following the example of thousands of companies and switching to the Agile methodology. Development teams adopting the Agile methodology see major benefits in terms of efficiency gained, time to market, product quality, and much more. So even if some still have doubts about this methodology, Agile is the way to go if you want to stay ahead of the curve. With adequate quality assurance processes, the risk may also be managed and reduced to an acceptable level, enabling Agile to be used in the development of safety-critical end products.  

Your chosen ALM platform should have a built-in Agile layer, even if you plan to stick to Waterfall for now – some companies have chosen to gradually adopt Agile by first transitioning to a Hybrid methodology, with some elements of Agile slowly implemented in an otherwise Waterfall process.


Related reading
Modernizing the Requirements Management Toolchain 


Out-of-the-box support for various work items 

End-to-end lifecycle management includes the management of requirements, software development (and project management), QA testing, and documents; with the optional additions of demand management and IT Operations (or DevOps).  
Consequently, your ALM solution should have the adequate work items preconfigured: requirements (and user stories), development tasks, test cases, and bugs, as well as the facility to store and manage documents and preferably demands. This way, the development process (SDLC) will be mapped and supported by relevant artifacts at each stage of the lifecycle. All changes to these work items should be logged, and links established between them to provide end-to-end traceability.  

Customizable, highly configurable architecture 

While preconfigured work items are essential, it is imperative that the entire ALM solution can be customized to perfectly suit your development teams’ needs. The right ALM platform can be tailored to your internal processes with configurable work items, fully customizable workflows, flexible reporting options & custom project analysis data.  
Think about what information you’d like your artifacts to store. If your ALM solution allows you to add custom data fields, you’ll be able to simply tailor your platform to your needs and have your works items configured, you should be able to drive them through a custom workflow that matches your internal processes. If your end products are under government regulation, or you’re seeking compliance with FDA, ISO, IEC, etc standards, permission-based access, process enforcement, and approval processes with some form of validation (ideally, e-signatures) are also important features to have.  

Integration points 

Implementing a new ALM solution doesn’t mean you have to throw out all your tried and tested single-point tools. You may want to keep some of them and use them together with the new platform. Consequently, in addition to tailoring the ALM to your internal processes, you should be able to integrate it into your pre-existing toolchain. Advances Application Lifecycle Management suites offer integration points with various tools and file formats such as IBM Rational DOORS (ReqIF), Atlassian JIRA, Microsoft Office, etc. Look for a platform that offers open APIs (REST or Swagger) to let you create your own integrations.  
One important consideration is the integration with Microsoft Office. MS Word and Excel are standard solutions that, despite their limited functionality, are still widely used in all industries for various purposes (mainly requirements management). As they are widely recognized and used, you will most likely have to work with clients or partners that use these documents. One useful feature to have is the round-tip export-import functionality, which, lets you export data to MS Office documents, make changes, then reimport those changes to have them all merged with data stored in your ALM. This helps ensure data consistency across teams and software tools.  

Need a little bit more help with deciding how to select the ALM solution that best suits your need? Download our free guide for a checklist of key ALM features! 


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