Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), in a technical development and support environment, relies on processes and procedures that can be mundane, repetitive, and seemingly unrelated to the goals of your project. Plug your development project into automation and watch it take off!
Years ago, when computing power and online data storage were much more expensive, companies often had elaborate manual procedures for version and change control. In fact, they sometimes needed an entire department to keep track of it all.
Now there are software tools available to lighten the burden, however, these tools need to be integrat­ed and processes need to be layered to control the movement of tasks. These vary from simple version control systems to comprehensive integrated systems covering all aspects of product requirements through development, release and maintenance. The most exciting tools follow current trends and use open source, relational database and client/server technology to provide highly flexible solutions on an ever-widening range of hardware and software platforms.
Compare the benefits of automating these processes with the liabilities of doing them manually:
How to introduce automation in seven steps:
1. Assess your current situation. What procedures do you have in place now? Are any of them already automated? Which ones are working and which are not? Where are the bottlenecks?
2. Identify your goals. What level of control do you need? How rigorous should your configuration and change control be? Are you aiming for a more Agile process or for a hybrid somewhere between Agile and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)? Do
you have governances to adhere to, such as MIL, HIPPA or ISO?
3. Define your procedures. You can’t automate procedures you do not have or only partially have. The right tool can help you with this step but beware of introducing stricter controls than you really need.
4. Make a checklist of your requirements and procedures to show vendors as you research your tool options. Your objective is to find a match between your processes or your project’s needs and the tool’s features.
5. Phase in the implementation, starting with a small but real-life project. It may take several attempts to get it right but your vendor can help you.
6. Train your staff on how to use the tool accurately right from the start. Keep in mind that they may need to be convinced that automating and improving processes and procedures are “good things.”
7. Transfer existing project data to the new tool. This may mean just deliverables baselined at a specific cut-over, but it could require porting all historical data. Your tool vendor should be able to assist with this.