Articles | March 20, 2024

Application Lifecycle Management – ALM Benefits, Governance & More 

What is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)? Learn about the governance, benefits, and more in our comprehensive guide. Don’t miss out on optimizing your development process!

ALM

Software applications sit at the heart of everything we do, with a 2022 survey estimating organizations use at least 130 different SaaS products to service their customer’s needs. That’s big business, so you need to be disciplined if you and your team are responsible for managing applications.  

Whether it’s scoping, development, testing and Quality Assurance, deployment, or bug fixing, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) helps keep the entire development journey organized. If that sounds like something you need, in this article, we’ll look at all things ALM, including what it is, how it works, and the benefits you can achieve by adopting it.  

Let’s get into it! 

What is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)? 

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) brings together people, tools, and processes to create a development process that covers everything from planning, development, testing and deployment, maintenance, and, ultimately, retirement.  

Running over the top of this, the ALM approach to governance ensures quality management sits at the heart of everything development teams do, providing stakeholders with confidence and transparency of the application’s health. This focus on the end-to-end software development lifecycle is why those who dismiss ALM as just another project management methodology are wrong and don’t see the wider productivity, risk management, continuous integration benefits that ALM delivers.  

Key areas of ALM: 

  • Governance (like requirements management, resource management,  change tracking, review). 
  • Development (planning, designing, building and testing). 
  • Maintenance ( application deployment and maintenance ) 

While implementing ALM isn’t hard, those who do it best use ALM tools, such as the Microsoft Power Platform, to automate and oversee the entire software delivery process. We’ll look at that, and much more, later on! 

Why is ALM Important For The Governance of Software Development Teams 

In a world where the speed of change is ever-increasing, the role of good governance is even more important in managing risk and ensuring high-quality results. It’s in these areas that ALM provides organizations with real value.  

DevOps, Agile, and other software development processes are risky endeavors. While they focus on ensuring teams collaborate with the end user, they also push hard to ensure a pipeline of changes gets delivered at pace. When pressure mounts on teams, they tend to overlook the fundamentals, leading to a higher chance of mistakes being made.  

ALM helps teams strike the right balance, providing oversight, control, and traceability while still ensuring speed to every workflow that goes into creating a great software product.  

The Benefits of Application Lifecycle Management 

But what does this mean in practice? While every company needs good governance, here are the tangible benefits ALM brings to organizations every single day.  

  • It provides Quality Assurance to the change management process, giving stakeholders and executives confidence in the development teams.  
  • ALM tools and processes help automate the entire software lifecycle, speeding up requirements management, development, testing, and release management. 
  • ALM improves the software quality, increasing your chances of delivering high-quality software every time. 
  • It guides a software team from start to finish, helping to upskill team members with best practices and increase the long-term capability of your entire team.  

It’s not all about governance. ALM also provides several additional benefits that help teams collaborate, boost technical support, and avoid unnecessary work. We’re sure that by now, you’re excited to get started with ALM, so let’s look at how it works in practice.  

The 5 Stages of ALM – The End-to-End Process 

Let’s look at the stages of application lifecycle management to help you understand how you can make it fit into your organization.  

ALM

#1 – Defining Software Requirements 

Application lifecycle management provides regular opportunities for stakeholders to feed in new requirements to ensure the software meets the customer’s needs. While requirements are usually fed from the top-down, getting multiple teams involved to input their needs ensures a more rounded view of user expectations.  

ALM dictates that application teams have a set process for meeting with stakeholders, capturing requirements, and recording them consistently within an ALM tool. This helps create end-to-end traceability throughout the entire software development journey. 

#2 – Development of New Features 

Next, it’s about taking the application from conception and turning it into reality. Once you’re comfortable with the requirements, the team can begin developing the features within the application. At this stage, you could use a range of development approaches, including DevOps, Scrum, DSDM, or any other agile methodology.  

So long as the approach allows teams to efficiently manage their workload, provides a framework for success, and focuses on product quality, it’s all good for ALM. 

3 – Testing and QA 

Once the software has been developed to the project requirements, it’s time to test it against the agreed test cases. Depending on the wider technology environment, this could include functional testing, quality testing, integration testing, regression testing, and user testing.  

Taking this detailed view of test management ensures that your quality remains high, complies with standards and regulations, and ensures the software is signed off by the tester and ready for deployment. 

4 – Deployment 

Application lifecycle management helps teams deploy their software in the right way. Whether it’s a full deployment or basic security updates, under ALM, teams have to ensure they manage the transition from development and deployment to a new release in a controlled way.  

Many organizations use project management tools and automation to help streamline the continuous deployment process of new source code, enabling teams to regularly release new features to keep their users happy. 

#5 – Continuous improvements & end of life 

Continuous improvement is a big factor within an organization, and that’s no different for ALM. Software teams need to ensure they have constant monitoring in place to identify, analyze, test, and improve their applications, keeping them up-to-date with user’s expectations.  

While teams need to do this at speed, ALM supports strict governance and version control to ensure that updates can be made regularly but with a level of assurance and safety that keeps stakeholders happy.  

But like all things in life, applications will eventually reach the end of their life. Under ALM, teams need to make informed decisions about when to retire an application and ensure communication and collaboration with stakeholders and users to manage the impacts.  

3 ALM Tools for Deployment, Testing and Quality Assurance, and End-to-End Traceability

While ALM focuses on people and processes, ALM tools allow teams to take the legwork out of managing great software applications. Here are three tools to consider using for different stages of the product lifecycle. 

  • Microsoft Power Automate – Within the wider Microsoft ecosystems, functions like Dataverse, Solutions, Power Apps, and Source Control can come together to manage your requirements, documentation, and deployment.  
  • Microsoft DevOps – Microsoft’s ALM suite uses Visual Studio, one of the most-used integrated development environments in the developer community, to help you write and launch code. This is especially useful if you use .NET technologies.  
  • Rally – If you want to step out of the Microsoft universe, Rally is an excellent ALM/Project Management hybrid that’s great for storing, tracking, and testing software requirements. It can also integrate deployment software to take you end-to-end on the development journey.  

Level Up Your Development with ALM 

With software such a fundamental part of any modern organization, those implementing application lifecycle management stay ahead of the curve while ensuring their processes are efficient.  

But ALM isn’t just a framework for software development. It also provides critical governance and control to give senior management confidence in the development team and their outputs. To help further, many teams select an ALM tool to provide oversight, automation, and coordination across the entire development process.  

Oftentimes, development teams get the best results by working with IT partners who know how to do development the right way. At Inetum, we’ve helped organizations across the globe improve their development processes by implementing tools, processes, and controls that balance efficiency and discipline.  

If you’re looking to take your development approach to the next level, contact our teams today to hear how we can help you maximize your ALM capabilities.  

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