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Agile Application Life-Cycle Management Software

Agile Application Life-Cycle Management Software

Agile software development is an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer(s)/end user(s). It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, empirical knowledge, and continual improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

The term agile (sometimes written Agile) was popularized, in this context, by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The values and principles espoused in this manifesto were derived from and underpin a broad range of software development frameworks, including Scrum and Kanban.

There is significant anecdotal evidence that adopting agile practices and values improves the agility of software professionals, teams and organizations; however, some empirical studies have found no scientific evidence.

Agile application lifecycle management (Agile ALM) is all the tools and processes that are used to manage software development projects based on flexible methodology. The traditional cascade design model uses a phase approach to the development life cycle. This approach means that no project phase starts earlier than the previous one ends. For example, the design does not begin before the collection of requirements ends. Development does not begin until the design is completed. Testing does not begin until development is fully completed. There are many tools to manage what is in the input and output of each phase.

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F.A.Q about Agile Application Life-Cycle Management Software

Agile ALM brings together two seemingly contradictory development strategies. Agile promotes flexibility, rapid release cycles and quick response to change. Application lifecycle management (ALM) emphasizes tracking and documenting changes in an application -- from inception to retirement. Its processes are more controlled and less adaptive than the Agile methodology. That said, when put together, Agile and ALM act as complements, rending ALM more flexible and Agile more disciplined.

What is Agile ALM?

Development expert Yvette Francino described Agile ALM as ALM tools and processes that are used to manage Agile software development projects. For example, rather than using Waterfall's phased approach, Agile ALM offers an approach to software development in which design, code and requirements are all handled by the same team.

How do you integrate Agile into an ALM framework?

According to Gerie Owen's article on Agile and ALM, adopting Agile means both a change to the ALM approach and a change to an organization's mind-set. An Agile ALM strategy will focus on the customer and will have the ability to adapt to shifting requirements -- from project planning to release management. For example, instead of just implementing controls to force early feedback from testers and business analysts, an organization would also foster a culture of collaboration.

Are there tools that can help me achieve this?

ALM tools are widely available but must be chosen with care, according to Yvette Francino, SearchSoftwareQuality contributor. Organizations should look for tools that facilitate the process without impeding acceptance of changing requirements. They would also need to integrate throughout the application lifecycle and be easy to maintain. In other words, the tool should manage the development process in an Agile way. In an article for SearchSoftwareQuality.com, Amy Reichert provides a list of Agile ALM tools and identifies their strengths and weaknesses. Rally Software, for example, offers a product that works well with Agile but, according to Reichert, does not provide an intuitive workflow. VersionOne, on the other hand, offers a tool that is more user-friendly but less compatible with Agile. Which one is best will depend on the company's needs.

Are there challenges to Agile ALM that I should be aware of?

The primary challenge to Agile ALM is in finding a balance between the two methodologies. A common pitfall is to over-ALM the development process. In other words, when developers and testers start to find workarounds to the software rules -- as they often do -- some react by creating more rules in order to more strictly enforce them. Meanwhile, processes lose their agility.

How can I overcome these challenges?

Testing expert Amy Reichert cautions development teams to keep track of how many rules they add and how those rules are communicated. She also suggests having a discussion with the team, asking them why they are circumventing the process. Once everyone's role has been clarified, project managers can then decide which rules, if any, to add.

Is Agile ALM a good approach for mobile development?

Mobile development is faster and more competitive than traditional software development. It has newer technologies and higher-speed application cycles. These qualities could make mobile an excellent candidate for Agile ALM, but only if the methodology is amended to accommodate the challenges inherent in a more restrictive development process. In an article on mobile ALM, site editor James Denman suggested an ALM approach that focuses on smaller pieces of software and authenticates results as each part is finished. That way, teams can quickly discern whether the app will effectively serve its purpose or if it needs to be taken in a different direction.