May 12, 2020

How to Automate Helix ALM for Remote Teams

Application Lifecycle Management

Many of our customers have had to make abrupt changes to the way they work. Specifically, shifting from an office setup to one that accommodates fully remote teams.

We’ve been publishing tips and tricks to help our customers be more successful with this transition. One of these resources is a webinar for Helix ALM administrators, showing them how to automate processes and better support remote teams.

A lot of great questions were asked during the webinar — too many to fit into the recording. And while we responded to each, we think other users would benefit from the answers. This is a roundup of what was answered.

Helix ALM Admin Tools for Remote Teams

First, know that admins can automate a number of processes that will prevent unwanted changes, improve visibility, and make communication easier. If you didn’t see the webinar, it covered:

  • Locking Workflow States
  • Change Control Loops
  • Security Permissions
  • Viewing / Auditing History
  • Email Notifications
  • Slack Integration

If you didn’t catch the webinar, you can watch it here:

>> Automate ALM to Manage Remote Teams >>

More Tips for Our Remote Admins

Here are the questions you won’t hear on the recording — but may help ensure that Helix ALM is doing the most for you.

How easy is it to convert existing requirements from other systems that are in Excel, Word, or PDF?

While there’s no “one size fits all” answer, since everyone organizes their data differently, Helix ALM offers pretty robust Excel and Word import.

With MicrosoftExcel, we do need to save the file as a CSV. Then it’s a simple process of mapping the columns from that CSV to fields in Helix ALM:


For a MicrosoftWord import, we parse the document in two ways: using styles (e.g. Header 1, Header 2, Body, etc.) or numbering (1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, etc.) Through Word import, we can’t do a field-by-field mapping like we do from a table, but it is possible to import it as an indented, cohesive document:

Screenshot 2 ALM auto blog

Unfortunately, PDFs would need to be converted to Word prior to import – we don’t natively import PDFs. 

If you reply to an email from Helix ALM does the original sender receive the reply? Or do they have to go to Helix ALM to see it?

The short answer is that replying to the email will send it to the original sender, and simultaneously attach the reply to the record in question in Helix ALM.

The longer answer is that we need to enable both email sending and email tracking in Helix ALM. With sending only, you can send both manual and automatic emails from Helix ALM. (Due date reminders, assignment notifications, etc.) However, those emails are not stored in Helix ALM.

With tracking enabled, the following happens:

  1. An email is sent by a user in Helix ALM.
  2. The tracking email account set up for Helix ALM embeds a cookie in that email, and stores that original email on the record in question.
  3. The recipient of the email receives the email, which looks like it came from that original user. (Their email address is in the “from” portion of the email.)
  4. The recipient of the email replies to the email.
  5. Helix ALM stores that reply on the record the email is about.
  6. Helix ALM routes the reply to the original sender.

That sort of “back and forth” replying can happen indefinitely, as long as the original email was initiated from Helix ALM.

Can you remove a reviewer from a workflow after the workflow has been implemented? Can we integrate Helix with an automation tool like Selenium?

The answer to both is yes. Review processes can be automated quite a bit, which is very handy for reducing day-to-day button clicks. However, for those exceptions where you need to deviate from the normal process, Helix ALM administrators always have a way through that sort of situation (e.g. Modifying assignees or force processing a record.) Regardless, those changes, along with all others, are always tracked in the history of that item.

For integration — the answer will revolve around our REST API. We have a sample Selenium script located here. You should be able to steal from that code to get started on seeing how to authenticate, assert a pass or fail of a test, etc. The REST API is pretty well optimized for that sort of usage.

Is there a help option for field code in reports?

There is! On any screen where you have to input those sorts of field codes, there should be an “Insert Field Code” button. That applies to reports, email templates, etc.

For Word Exports, it even goes one step further: on the “Configure Word Export Templates” screen, there’s a “View Field Codes” button which will generate a whole report with a comprehensive list of field codes you can use in those exports.

In both of those cases, it will display field codes that are unique to your environment – all those custom fields are included!

Are we able to generate traceability report? Can we generate a test run report to see how many pass, fail?

The answer to both is yes. Traceability is an area where Helix ALM excels. You’re able to link between any two records, and largely automate that linkage for your daily use by defining an architecture. That’s important because it will also help with impact analysis: if something upstream changes, we want to know which related items may be affected.

That also means that your test coverage reports are part of that traceability — we need to not just see which test runs pass or fail, but also which requirements they trace to. You can read about traceability here.

Here is a screenshot from a sample traceability report:

Trace report ALM

Have More Questions?

If you have more questions about Helix ALM, please contact [email protected].