Dr. Dobb's is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Channels ▼


Quality and Transparent ALM

Grant Lammi is a senior software engineer at Seapine Software and can be reached at http://blogs.seapine.com/grant. Keith Vanden Eynden is a technical communicator at Seapine Software and can be contacted at [email protected]

Application lifecycle management (ALM) encompasses all the steps of developing software -- from gathering requirements and writing functional specifications to regression testing and defect tracking.

An ALM process is essential to producing quality software. However, repeatedly consulting process documents to determine what to do next takes time away from other valuable activities. Automating as much of the process as possible reduces the amount of time spent performing mundane tasks like organizing and reviewing priorities and lets you spend more time on more enjoyable activities like designing and coding.

Your ultimate goal when designing an ALM process should be to create a transparent process that keeps you on track but doesn't distract you from activities that require more focus.

The Benefits of Process

Before your process can fade into the background, you have to accept the fact that process is good. To many developers, the word "process" suggests rigidity and an endless list of required actions and procedures that crush their creativity.

Developers all want freedom and autonomy. Yet what we want is not always good for us. In an environment where it is every coder for himself and nothing is documented, you may find yourself wondering if the person in the next cube is following the same rules you are. You fix the same problems again and again and live out your own version of the movie 50 First Dates. The right balance of process and empowerment makes all the difference in the world.

ALM Processes: They Come In Different Flavors

Everyone has a different impression of what process means, usually due to previous experiences. If you work at a company that requires you to check in your code and document changes nightly, your reaction to the word "process" will be much different from someone who works in a two-coder shop where design meetings take place in the kitchen while re-heating leftover pizza.

You can look at three types of processes:

  • Ad hoc
  • Formal
  • Transparent

An ad hoc environment is the wild, wild west. If you've ever worked in that type of environment, you've probably had the good sense to flee before your nerves were shot.

Working in a formal environment can re-assure you that all the bases are covered, but it can make you feel like you can't make a move without getting sign off.

What you want is a good balance, where you can complete tasks without feeling like you're being pulled out of the zone by dozens of administrative interruptions.

Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.