Table of contents
- What is ALM software?
- Best ALM tools and software
- Key features of ALM software
- Choosing ALM over other tools
For companies in the software industry, having an application lifecycle management (ALM) system is crucial to the business. An ALM is similar to a software development lifecycle (SDLC) but greater in scope. An SDLC framework enables a development team to develop and deploy high quality software. An ALM system is an integrated system that manages the lifecycle of an application from beginning to end, identified as its governance, development, maintenance, and retirement or decommissioning phases. To compare, an SDLC focuses only on the development phase.
What is ALM software?
Application lifecycle management tools are more comprehensive than software development tools because of its longer and wider coverage. Aside from software requirements, planning, design, development, testing, and deployment, the tools also need to cover several business management and product development processes.
For application governance, it has to include resource management, data security, user access, and sometimes application portfolio management. For operations, it should have tools for deployment, updating, and maintenance. Another complexity is the varying degrees companies implement their processes, such as development methodologies and operation strategies. For instance, some software companies use proprietary technology while others use open source. Some teams use agile frameworks while others use hybrid ones.
Read also: Agile Software Development Methodology & Principles
Best ALM tools and software
Since it is very difficult to offer a single product that can satisfy most company requirements for ALM tools, many vendors offer several products that can be combined to provide a more complete solution. Although some vendors offer a single solution, most of them will integrate with other products to provide customers the needed flexibility. Here are some of the top ALM software based on multiple reviews, customer feedback, and market ranking.
codebeamer is an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform for advanced product and software development. The open platform extends ALM functionalities with product line configuration capabilities and provides unique configurability for complex processes.
Microsoft Power Platform
Microsoft tools for application lifecycle management include Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, and Azure DevOps. These tools provide solutions to help teams distribute components across environments, store solutions in common data service, and manage the storage and collaboration of components with a source control.
Atlassian offers several products that users can integrate to build their own ALM system. It has several products to help teams plan, track, collaborate, code, build, ship, administrate, and support their software products. These include Jira Software, Trello, Confluence, BitBucket, Bamboo, and Jira Service Desk.
IBM offers several products for its ALM solution. Some of these are the Engineering Workflow Management tool to help manage workflows, Continuous Delivery cloud service that automates software builds and tests, Engineering Lifecycle Management Base to manage requirements, quality, changes, project plans and tracking, and others.
Polarion ALM from Siemens provides a unified solution for requirements, coding, testing, and application release. It is a browser-based software that allows collaboration through real-time communication, traceability via automatic change control, and work management through rule-based workflow. It also has ready-to-use integrations and Open API’s to extend the software’s functionality.
Rally Software from Broadcom is an enterprise software that enables teams to scale agile development practices. It helps align daily work to business strategy and provide teams a central collaboration hub to plan, prioritize, and track work. It also includes reporting tools that show progress, dependencies, alignment, and plan health to enable teams to make informed decisions on where to focus their efforts.
Micro Focus, the company that merged with HP Enterprise, offers several products that include application delivery management software. It has several agile and DevOps tools to manage continuous quality and delivery, manage and track requirements, and plan, track, orchestrate, and release applications. It also has products for configuration management, deployment automation, quality and test management, and collaboration.
Planview Leankit is an enterprise kanban software that provides teams a visual work delivery tool to apply lean management principles to work more efficiently and deliver faster. Aside from the online Kanban boards, it has other process and work visualization tools, drag-and-drop interface, contextual work collaboration tools, analytics, and reporting tools to facilitate work planning and delivery.
Jama Software is a tool specific for requirements, risk, and test management, all of which are critical components of application lifecycle management. It provides teams a popular software for improving quality, reducing rework, showing proof of compliance, and enabling them to bring their product to market faster. The software supports complete traceability and ready-to-use and custom REST integrations.
Target Process is an agile portfolio and work management tool. It is a highly visual tool that helps companies adopt and scale agile across the enterprise. The software provides visibility to help teams as they go through product increment and delivery cycles. It is customizable to support unique workflows and processes as well as popular frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and OKR.
Digital.ai offers several tools such as VersionOne for enterprise agile planning and TeamForge for application lifecycle management. VersionOne can help teams across the organization envision, plan, and deliver software. TeamForge is an application development, collaboration, and delivery platform that supports a variety of workflows and frameworks such as agile, waterfall, and hybrid development methodologies.
Key features of ALM software
Software application development is a complex process made up of interdependent activities and procedures. Teams must coordinate all tasks and activities across the organization for a successful execution, delivery, and implementation of the software project. To support all related activities, ALM software include key features to seamlessly integrate people and processes.
An ALM tool should enable development teams to define, control, and communicate the goals that drive a software development project, as well as any regulation that impacts the process. Requirements management is the process where teams analyze, document, track, prioritize, and agree on the requirements. It is important that the ALM software also provides the team the channel and control of the communication to relevant stakeholders.
ALM tools include features that ensure the end product adheres to all technical specifications and requirements. It provides the tools to address all end-user needs. The software design process is where the team transforms user requirements into a suitable form that helps the developers code and implement the software.
This feature simplifies how the development team plans, estimates, schedules, allocates, and tracks all resources. The ALM tool assigns tasks to team members, sets deadlines, and creates dependencies. It also allows the project lead and the team to update the status of all their activities with transparency and for easier collaboration.
Read also: How Significant is Project Management in Software Development?
An ALM tool provides teams quality assurance capabilities that can immediately detect and correct software bugs and other problems. Software testing tools allow development teams to check whether the product matches expected requirements and are free of defects. Modern ALM tools include features for both manual and automated testing.
Aside from project management features, ALM tools also help project managers keep the software project on track when requirements change. The software allows a smooth and controlled transition from one state or version to another state or version. It helps in the control and management of code, process, or document changes.
Monitoring and reporting
This feature in ALM software enables project managers and other team members to set and measure KPIs, so they can have real-time overview and management of the development project. They are able to describe the progress of a project within a specific time period and compare it against the project plan.
Choosing ALM over other tools
Software companies today work on a shorter time frame to conceptualize, develop, and release software. Rapid changes in the business landscape, competitive market forces, and customer requirements are some of the main reasons. ALM tools allow them to work quickly and reap several benefits. These tools help increase team efficiency so that teams from different units or of different functions can deliver the required output faster using less resources. Most of these tools include built-in communication that improves collaboration and enable teams to produce working products faster. Many ALM systems support agile frameworks that allow companies to quickly design, deliver, and deploy software to market.
The software list above is not exhaustive, but can it get you to an initial point of comparison to help your team find the best tool for your business.
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