What Is Agile ALM?
Agile ALM is the practice of using Agile processes to manage your requirements, issues, and tests.
There are plenty of reasons why development teams implement Agile to manage their project lifecycles.
Customers expect rapid releases of quality software. You can’t spend months or years perfecting a release. (But you can’t send it out into the market with too many bugs, either.)
Applying Agile to ALM helps you:
- Deliver quality releases quickly.
- Improve collaboration across teams.
- Prioritize customer needs.
How to Do Agile Application Lifecycle Management
Agile is all about value and people. And ALM is all about tools.
Applying Agile Theories…
Understanding Agile ALM begins by looking first at each of the four main principles laid out in the Agile Manifesto.
Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools.
Traditional ALM is often governed by steps for completing the product. First you gather requirements. Then you build the product. And then you run tests. This can create silos by process.
Agile ALM, instead, favors cross-functional team interaction. Gathering requirements is a collaborative process — and these requirements are reviewed and updated constantly. The product is built and tested in sprints, facilitating greater collaboration throughout the process.
Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation.
ALM is traditionally characterized by extensive documentation. Agile suggests prioritizing fast (quality) releases over documentation. Hybrid Agile typically bridges the gap for organizations who need the documentation (e.g., for compliance) but want to be Agile.
Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation.
In traditional ALM, customer feedback comes in the form of requests for bug fixes or features. It usually doesn’t inform requirements.
In Agile ALM, customer feedback is critical. It’s often included in requirements gathering throughout the development lifecycle.
Responding to Change Over Following a Plan.
Traditional ALM is all about the plan. The plan is set firmly at the beginning of development and followed through to deployment.
Agile ALM responds to change. The plan — if you call it that — is in flux. This helps team members be more productive and deliver the right functionality at the right time. And that typically helps you reduce your costs.
Going From Theory to Practice
Agile is straightforward in theory. But it takes work to implement Agile processes. And transitioning from traditional development (e.g., Waterfall) to Agile doesn’t happen overnight.
Some teams make the mistaking of trying to become Agile too quickly. This can be disorienting for some team members. And this makes organizational Agile adoption difficult.
If this happens to your team, you shouldn’t give up on Agile. Your teams will get more comfortable with Agile processes as you go along. Transitioning to hybrid Agile can pave the way for a smoother adoption. This means practicing Agile for some parts of development, but using non-Agile techniques for other parts.
If you’re just getting started with Agile ALM, consider introducing Agile to each of your traditional lifecycle phases.
Collaborate on Agile Requirements
Agile requirements are different from traditional requirements.
Traditional requirements are set early on in development. Some of these may come from business requirements. While traditional requirements may change during development, they do not change very often.
Traditional requirements clearly outline what the requirements are. But they don’t outline why those requirements need to be met.
Traditional requirement example:
Comply with ISO 26262.
Agile requirements are set in user stories when they are needed. Stakeholders should actively participate in the requirements gathering process. And user stories should be constantly refined and prioritized.
Agile requirements outline what the requirement is and why it matters to the customer, stakeholder, or company.
Agile requirement example:
As a carmaker, I expect our vehicles to comply with ISO 26262 so that our customers will be safe driving them.
Do Agile Issue Tracking
Agile issue tracking differs from traditional issue tracking methods.
Traditionally, issues are found by testers and resolved prior to a release. If a customer finds an issue, it’s added to a list of pending bug fixes. The issue then gets assigned to someone. At some point, the issue is fixed and tested.
Agile issue tracking invites collaboration to resolve issues. When an issue comes in, it is prioritized based on impact. A team works through this backlog of issues, resolving issues as quickly as they can.
Run Agile Tests
Agile testing is managed differently than traditional testing.
Traditional testing happens after a build is completed. Test cases are defined early on. Most test runs are completed manually. If there are automated tests involved, those testing results are tracked manually too. Testers handle their work individually. Most importantly, traditional test plans are rarely reviewed or changed.
Agile testing happens continuously. Test cases are set based on user stories. As new user stories are added, new test cases should be added too. Testing is done in sprints, often utilizing test automation to increase test coverage. Most importantly, test plans are constantly reviewed and changed to meet changing needs.
What to Look For in an Agile ALM Tool
What makes an Agile lifecycle management tool different from a traditional ALM tool?
An Agile lifecycle management tool should be tightly integrated into your development environment. It should be easy for your development teams to collaborate on requirements, issue resolution, and testing. An Agile tool also needs to be easy-to-use. There shouldn’t be a big learning curve.
Most of all, an Agile lifecycle management tool should follow Agile ALM best practices. It should support rapid releases, continuous testing, and Agile planning.
Choose an Agile Lifecycle Management Tool
Find the Agile lifecycle management tool that’s right for you. Helix ALM, for instance, supports both traditional and Agile development. So, choosing Helix ALM will help your organization transition from Waterfall to hybrid Agile (or even to full Agile if you’re ready).
Or if you want to try Helix ALM for yourself…