Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building Agile into your ALM Solution

What is a good ALM solution? I define ALM to be a set of tools and practices that work together across the project lifecycle, from inception into production, to help you deliver an instance of a product (aka, a release). A reasonable ALM product will have a common user interface for utilizing the ALM functionality. It will also include a meta-model and process engine to parse and share information across and amongst the various functions within the ALM framework. IMHO, I believe ALM is still relatively immature and I don’t sense that there are strong business reasons for doing ALM and still lacks the true integration that is needed to make it seamless. So what would a business drive ALM framework look like? This is where Agile comes in.

I believe a key driver to ALM is focusing on customer value from inception to release. This is what an Agile mindset brings to the table. While many ALM frameworks start with planning or requirements, I suggest agile ALM begin as early as inception or during the creation of the business vision for the product or a specific release. This helps provide the context of the customer value that is being built during the project. Agile ALM also should include mechanisms that focus on customer validation along the way and effective product delivery.

What I am advocating is introducing the notion of the value chain. This concept has been around since at least 1980 when Michael Porter established his value chain framework and further explained in his 1985 book, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance but the concepts had been discussed in conferences and companies well before this time. I suggest taking the ALM framework, merging it with a customer value chain framework, all while applying the agile methodology of iterative and incremental approaches ©. This integrated framework emphasizes customer value and validation in an iterative and incremental approach. The primary value of my ideal Agile ALM framework is that it provides the mechanisms that enable continual focus on the value of what we are building for our customer throughout the lifecycle so that we ensure we are delivering of value.

To gain more detail about what I believe to be an ideal yet effective Agile ALM framework that is focused on delivering customer value, consider reading these articles:

• Agile ALM for Delivering Customer Value - Part 1 of 2 - published in the Configuration Management (CM) Journal - January 5, 2012

Agile ALM for Delivering Customer Value – Part 2 of 2 - published in the Configuration Management (CM) Journal - January 11, 2012