A Look Inside the Agile Toolbox: 10 Top ALM Tools

The pervasive use of Agile methodologies has changed the way that development teams work. With this change, new tools and vendors have entered the traditional application life-cycle arena.

A recent evaluation of this trend was published by Forrester Research, the “Agile Development Managements Tools Forrester Wave” report.

Key observations of the report:

Tools have changed to be task, management and report oriented. There has been a shift from traditional ALM tools, which focused on development artifacts and their relationship, to tools which bring change and task management to the top of the feature list, support the development team in their daily tasks, and enable work to be reported and measured.

Project management becomes integrated. Traditionally, planning and reporting in development projects has been disconnected from the actual work being done with project management tools, and only limited integration with ALM tools. As Agile methods are adopted, project management requires more complete integration to allow teams to re-plan frequently and optimize flow within the team. More integrated solutions allow task, change (defect or story), and resources to be linked and reported on, which provides a more streamlined planning and reporting approach.

Scrum is popular; “Scrum but” is the implementation. Many teams use the Scrum framework for the basis of their approach, yet increasingly the report found teams following Scrum but adding other practices to this base flow. These hybrids include other Agile processes such as Extreme Programming XP and Feature Driven Development (FDD) as well as traditional approaches such as Project Management , Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and Unified Process.

Integration with other tools is key. ALM tool users typically have unique collections of practitioner tools, so it is unrealistic to expect those customers to move to one vendor for products. As the practitioner market becomes both specialized and commoditized, it is important for an ALM tool to provide good integration, allowing data to be harvested from those tools and work to be driven to them. Agile encourages dashboards to be created to show build, test and work status, so tool integration must be able to provide that information.

Ten Agile development management (ADM) tool vendors were evaluated: MKS, IBM, CollabNet, Rally Software, Atlassian, HP, Serena, Microsoft, VersionOne, and Micro Focus.

A summary of the Forrester vendor evaluation concluded that IBM and MKS led the pack with the best overall current feature sets. Atlassian, CollabNet, and Microsoft are also leaders with capable products and aggressive strategies that will result in significant product improvements. Rally Software Development is also a category leader—it offers the best current balance of product capability and strategic outlook. HP, Serena Software, and VersionOne are strong performers offering competitive options. In the case of HP and Serena, their products are recent introductions to the market and are expected to improve as the vendors mature and gain customers. VersionOne is a stalwart in the Agile space and offers excellent planning capabilities but is less flexible than other products when it comes to reporting and integration with application life-cycle management (ALM) tools. The solution acquired by Micro Focus appeals to client-server and legacy developers, but Micro Focus must clarify its future strategy.

The authors recommend three take-aways for application development professionals:

  • Look for their current tools to provide better support for Agile teams.
  • Integrate planning into ALM.
  • Use ALM tool as the change hub for software delivery.
Software Consortium
Software Consortium is an award winning provider of software technology solutions for private and public-sector clients. SCI teams focus on helping clients achieve strategic, as well as tactical goals at high returns on investment using the wisest proportion of teaming, people, processes and technology. For more information visit: www.softwareconsortium.com
Software Consortium
Software Consortium is an award winning provider of software technology solutions for private and public-sector clients. SCI teams focus on helping clients achieve strategic, as well as tactical goals at high returns on investment using the wisest proportion of teaming, people, processes and technology.

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