In this article, I will spell out what we in the CM/ALM community need in the tools that are being called ALM tools. I also call out the traits and tactics I'd like to see disappear from the tool selection process.
1. No More Plug-ins
There is nothing in the world that bugs me more than a vendor that has a tool that they claim is an ALM tool, but when you ask the vendor a question like, “So, does this ALM tool allow you to track requirements from the requirement document down to the code level?” They answer "Yes," and when you say, “That’s great. Where is it in the tool?” they respond, “You have to buy the plug-in.” Then you find that the requirements plug-in requires the issue management plug-in as well. Then you inquire about the release management tool, the deployment tool, the build tool, etc. All of these require that you have to purchase even more plug-ins. Now, all you have is a tool that looks like a Mr. Potato Head. Not only do you have to open one tool you also may be forced to open five different tools to achieve what you need.
2. Give Us Real Integrations
First and foremost, an integration is not simply a link from one tool to another. That does not pass the test of calling a tool integrated, neither does a short blurb about the action that took place. Integration as defined by me is the following: I can operate in one tool exclusively without having to invoke another to complete an action, i.e., I can checkout code from my requirements area and submit an issue from the version management area in my tool. Opening up multiple tools to complete multiple actions is no longer acceptable. We want to be able to operate in one tool and that is the end of that. I think most people would agree that having “tabs” would be acceptable, so you could have a version management tab, an issue management tab, a requirements management tab, a release and deploy management tab, etc. Improving the tools must take precedence over selling more product.
3. Make Administration Easier
It should not take a rocket scientist or a nuclear physicist to administer the tools. It’s true that these tools are very complex by nature and administration can’t be too overly simplistic because of the nature of ALM. However, the fact that some tools require very expensive server configurations and highly paid administrators is unacceptable. Administrators of these tools have to have a wide variety of knowledge about ALM and every piece that fits together, and this is not going to come cheap. But I have seen some tools that haven’t changed significantly in the last ten years. The time is now to make administering these tools easier and cheaper.
4. Integrate Seamlessly with Other Tools
Not since the Application Lifecycle Framework (ALF) died a few years ago has there been a serious effort to make all of the different tools work together, though some may argue that IBM’s Jazz framework is a positive step in that direction. The keyword, however, is seamlessly. If ALM tools are going to be marketed as such, they should be able to run other applications from competitors in the same way they run their own tools. This is one of the reasons that ALF failed —the big players never got on board except for Serena. I challenge all companies to open your source to other vendors and let’s have integrations that are seamless, I know that’s asking a lot