As someone responsible for project delivery , you are well aware of the fact that you have to stick to deadlines. But have you ever wondered why deadlines are so important? It’s so that you can bring your product into the market much before your competition does - and stand a better chance at succeeding. 

That said, how do you actually improve time-to-market? What software development methodologies do you adopt? What changes do you make to your existing processes? 

In all probability, you must already be using configuration management to systematically organize, manage, and control  the sea of change requests and ensure the integrity of your product throughout its lifecycle. However, if not done right, errors in configuration management can severely hamper  the application performance, lead to policy violations or even introduce security vulnerabilities.

But do you know, that integrated application lifecycle management (ALM) can increase your development efficiency further, and allow you to drive far better outcomes? 

Read on to find out what exactly is integrated application lifecycle management, and what has caused its rise in prominence. 

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Problems with configuration management

Although configuration management has long been used for establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's attributes and performance with its requirements and design throughout its life, there are several problems with configuration management that can lead to major issues. If not resolved in time, they can cause application performance problems, compliance violations or even security vulnerabilities.

Here are some of the common problems with configuration management: 

• Configuration Management is mainly IT Operations-focussed. It enables users to manage artefacts (mainly at code level) so that users can trace changes (when, what and who). It enables reproducing the derived objects/packages.

• With so many changes being introduced into the development process, ensuring traceability from requirement to delivery is extremely tedious. How do you keep track of every change that is introduced, and then also make sure the change does not affect the overall performance of your product? 

• Given the overwhelming amount of configuration information, presenting it in a format that is precise and actionable is challenging. This makes visibility into the development process extremely poor. How do you take into account the highly detailed change and configuration information and build a reliable, high-quality product? 

• Because changes are randomly introduced and managed by several distinct teams, there is no way to ensure every change is noted, tracked and its performance monitored. With a collaboration and communication platform not integrated, how do you inform and update the various people working on the product about new change requests, and what actually comprises the change? 

The Rise of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

As speed becomes the name of the game in today’s software-obsessed world, ALM, through a system of people, processes and tools allow software development teams to efficiently manage a product – throughout its lifecycle. 

In addition to software development, ALM also focuses on governance and maintenance of software. By providing the right direction to teams, it enables them to plan, design, build, test, and deploy software products most effectively. Since ALM oversees the software application from initial planning through retirement, it delivers a range of benefits: 

• Access to a centralized data repository that allows various software teams to be updated about the roles of responsibilities of other members, the progress of the project, the tasks in line, deadlines, as well as issues and challenges.

• Because teams are constantly interacting with one another, it drives effective real-time collaboration and ensures work is done collaboratively, and issues are solved instantly. 

• Through features such as version control and real-time planning, ALM drives better project monitoring. 

• Because ALM is enabled by tools that integrate people and processes, even if teams are spread across the globe, it provides them with cross-project visibility. It helps them to keep an eye on the project’s lifecycle and define metrics across productivity, quality, defects, as well as test cases. 

• Built-in reporting features enable teams to measure what matters, analyze bugs and issues, get the full picture, and provide insights to better plan projects.

Integrated ALM as DevOps platform 

The popularity of DevOps cannot be understated. 

Today, almost every organization takes a DevOps approach to application development to bridge the gap between development and operations teams, detect and resolve issues faster, drive frequent-iterations and deploy software quickly and safely. 

But when the integration is ensured only between  the development and operations teams, all the other teams end up working in a siloed fashion. This is where ALM comes into the picture. By integrating every aspect of the application lifecycle and managing the product throughout its development journey, it helps overcome issues faced by the siloed teams and provides a far more integrated approach to software development.

Integrated ALM goes a step further and provides an integrated set of tools and processes to help connect teams, activities, and platforms. By allowing teams to use a single set of tools across requirements management, source code management, build management, deployment management, test management, release management, and service management, it enables a more timely and accurate synchronization of data – even when teams are geographically isolated and on different time zones.

Using Integrated ALM as a DevOps platform is a great way to keep every member of the software development project in sync with each other. Not only does it ensure a greater degree of collaboration among cross-functional teams, through continuous functions, it also results in better quality application and faster delivery. Here’s how you can benefit by using integrated ALM as your DevOps platform

• The suite of integrated tools overcomes the challenges of globally distributed development and offers a high degree of development convenience and flexibility by keeping stakeholders in sync. 

• The centralized data repository stores specialized knowledge across multiple ALM phases and artifacts, allowing teams to successfully maintain and support the system, and ensure quick identification and rectification of issues.

• End-to-end traceability of project status and artifacts allow teams to work together as one unit and enable better product integration.

Development and release automation capabilities reduce manual hand-offs between teams and tools, thus mitigating changes of human error. 

• With members from different teams coming together, it ensures continuous development, continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous testing of software products and allows for faster time-to-market. 

The present belongs to Integrated ALM

As software projects move from being one-dimensional to complex, multi-dimensional systems, development methods need to evolve too. 

With projects no longer restricted to discrete tasks managed by different teams using multiple tools from different locations, what is needed is a real-time collaboration for cross-tool and cross-project visibility, in addition to better project monitoring and reporting. 

This has given rise to the practice of integrated ALM, where tools from across the product development lifecycle are synchronized with each other throughout the application development stages. Such integration ensures that every team member is aware of what changes need to be made, why and when they have to be made, and who will make them – and there are no last minute surprises causing delivery delays or project failure. 

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