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Automation in your SDLC: Identifying vital ALM tools

Process-centric tools and dashboards are among the ALM trends identified by expert Kevin Parker. Here he discusses how these trends are now indispensable to automation in the SDLC.

What trends are you seeing in automation in ALM?

The irony is, we are the cobbler’s children. And now our shoes are worn, and full of holes and frankly all too shabby. The development infrastructure we have allowed to evolve in our organizations is no longer meeting the needs of the methodologies we use, the technologies we are developing and the governance we now have in place. The world of siloed tools and point-to-point integration between them hinders our development efforts more than it supports them.

Process is the heart of ALM, and today’s savvy app dev executive is buying tools that are process-centric first and foremost; feature and function are far less important. The tools we buy today have to support our development process, not one imposed by the vendor; support our interpretation of the best practices, not some idealized subset from the vendor; and they must integrate with all of our other tools, irrespective of their authors, at the process level. Indeed, integration must make it possible for us to swap out tools that no longer serve us so we can replace them, with no disruption, in minutes, not months.

Once we can automate the stages of our software development lifecycle (SDLC), we fundamentally change the game of application delivery. Dashboards are springing up everywhere with real-time data about the most detailed stages of the development process. One client told me, “We’ve gone from fighting fires to finding out who is starting them!” after they implemented the automatic generation of KPI’s and SLA’s monitoring in the SDLC.

The automation of process exceptions that was never possible before is now commonplace. When a requirement changes in the requirements management tool, thanks to traceability and automation, everyone involved, including developers and testers using different tools, will get notifications. Approvals for the changes are automatically routed to the project leads and the project plans updated in yet a fourth tool. The seamlessness of the integrations in support of our process eliminates vast quantities of manual steps, thousands of emails, hundreds of meetings and billions of Excel spreadsheet cells.

If you are not automating your SDLC, you are accepting as much as 20% wasted effort in your development processes. Find a workflow tool designed to automate IT processes, make sure it is one that works with all your existing tools, even the ones you’ve developed yourself, and get automating. I guarantee you will wonder why you didn’t do it a decade ago.

Oh, and if you are trying to get ISO, CMMI or any other certification … without automation, you will fail.

This was last published in March 2012

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