Software development teams often look for ways to make better products and deliver them faster. Instead of traditional application lifecycle management (ALM) products that involve a linear process, many teams choose to use Agile ALM. Knowing how to implement this framework effectively can provide your team with more flexibility to improve collaboration, maintain efficiency and satisfy clients.
In this article, we define Agile application lifecycle management, discuss its principles and explain how you can use this framework throughout all phases of software development.
What is Agile application lifecycle management?
Agile application lifecycle management is a set of values that guides software development. In this framework, teams use Agile principles to make decisions during all phases of a project, including design, testing and deployment. Agile ALM encourages teams to collaborate openly and respond quickly to changes, allowing them to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality products.
When analyzing the benefits of Agile ALM, many people compare it to traditional ALM frameworks, such as the Waterfall methodology. A team using Waterfall ALM follows a more linear process, which can make it challenging to remain flexible during innovative projects. Agile ALM is more fluid because it encourages teams to draw on principles instead of strictly adhering to a plan. Other benefits of Agile ALM can include:
Increased customer satisfaction
More collaboration between cross-functional teams
Higher team morale
Agile ALM principles
In the Agile methodology, application lifecycle management applies key theories outlined in the Agile manifesto. This set of principles, created by software developers in 2001, describes how teams can work together to improve workflows and deliver software efficiently. The four values of the Agile manifesto are:
Prioritize individuals and interactions over tools and processes. Agile ALM encourages cross-functional teams to work together to perform tasks. For example, developers and quality assurance (QA) analysts may collaborate on testing processes in sprints.
Strive for working software over comprehensive documentation. While traditional ALM relies on extensive documentation, Agile ALM prioritizes quick software releases over lengthy reporting processes.
Collaborate with customers instead of solely using contracts. Agile ALM encourages teams to seek customer feedback to identify requirements while developing software, rather than after its release.
Focus on adapting to change instead of following a plan. While teams using Agile ALM have a plan for development, they understand it’s important to be flexible to ensure productivity and efficiency.
In addition to these key values, Agile ALM also follows the manifesto’s 12 principles, which detail methods for efficient software development. These 12 principles are:
Prioritize customer satisfaction by delivering software promptly and continuously.
Be ready to adapt to changing requirements whenever they come.
Deliver products frequently and within a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Encourage daily collaboration among clients and developers.
Work with motivated employees, giving them the resources they need and trusting them to perform well.
Prioritize in-person communication.
Use working software to measure progress.
Help developers, sponsors and users maintain a consistent pace indefinitely.
Be conscious of good design and technical excellence.
Give teams independence.
Host regular meetings and make changes to become more efficient.
Agile ALM phases
In an Agile framework, here’s how you can use the various phases of application lifecycle management to help teams collaborate effectively on a project:
When your team starts a new project, it receives requirements from the client. You can adhere to Agile ALM principles by working with the client to create a document that outlines their expectations. Consider keeping the document concise by including as few requirements as possible, focusing on the final product, its key features and deadlines. The client can also note the features they want the product to support in the future. The goal is to have enough requirements to give your team direction without restricting their workflow.
Once the client finalizes the requirements, your team can start on the design phase. Teams often use this period to determine what programming languages, libraries and frameworks are appropriate for the project. Then, they can draft features like the user interface to understand the requirements of the next stage.
Agile ALM supervisors can improve innovation by providing teams with resources but little oversight, allowing them to design new products freely. Regular check-ins instead of consistent supervision may help you monitor progress and refocus design efforts when necessary.
Development and coding
The development and coding stage can include the same flexibility that’s present throughout other Agile ALM phases. Teams may revise their designs to create more intuitive interfaces and collaborate with clients to get real-time feedback. This flexibility allows teams to convert designs into actual products and make any necessary adjustments.
In Agile ALM, another key element of this phase is efficiency. For instance, imagine your team is building a feature that requires a specific database to function. A developer may consider stopping their work to build a robust database layer to support this feature. While this database layer can support future projects, it might delay the development of the current feature and impact customer satisfaction. Agile ALM principles say it’s more important for a team to deliver products consistently to the client, so the team may find it more efficient to build only what’s necessary to deliver the feature.
Testing ensures all features are operational before a product’s deployment. Teams may conduct tests that analyze factors like user experience and integration with other systems. While it’s important to test the functionality of the final product, Agile ALM permits teams to test throughout the project. They can test features as they develop, allowing teams to address issues sooner rather than later.
Many teams find that regular testing can encourage innovation, improve communication and reduce costs. For instance, while testing a rudimentary feature, you might discover that it could integrate better with an existing system. You can use the results to revise the new feature or make the existing system more compatible with new features.
Deployment may require slightly more planning than other Agile ALM phases because this phase often involves strict deadlines. You can still encourage a team to remain flexible by allowing members to handle any challenges consumers have with the new product. You can plan for deployment by developing a support network to address issues quickly. Monitoring the performance of the new product may also be beneficial because it can help you notice problems before they become more serious.
Reviews occur throughout the project to monitor progress and determine where your team can improve. They allow teams to address new obstacles, report results and plan the next steps. During reviews, internal developers can communicate with each other and the client, ensuring they meet the project’s requirements and consider additional requests.
You may also consider having a post-project meeting to evaluate the team’s performance. Developers can determine strengths and weaknesses, providing feedback to help you improve future Agile ALM processes.