Agile ALM for Delivering Customer Value: Getting Started

Part 1 of 2

My ideal ALM world would be well integrated across the various lifecycle disciplines while allowing teams to focus on building customer value. This involves being able to trace the idea from inception to delivery. The primary value of my ideal agile ALM framework is that it continually focuses on the value of what we are building for our customer throughout the lifecycle.  Let’s take a look at some of the key functionality a worthy agile ALM solution should include.    

Business Visioning: In the Beginning of Any Customer Value, there is the Idea.
We need to capture customer ideas and prioritize and rank them to ensure we are building something the customer wants. Ideas primarily come from the customer, but they may be channeled through discussions with product owners, sales, presales, product marketing, and others. However, with an idea management system, ideas can come directly from the customer and then be sorted out by the product owner.   

It is advantageous to provide an idea generation collaboration space with web conferencing, both threaded and traceable from the source to the idea. An effective idea management system as part of the ALM framework has the ability to gather and evaluate ideas in order to select the best ideas that align with customer needs and market conditions that will be further validated downstream within the ALM framework. This provides customers with a place to submit ideas, which may evolve into objectives, epics, or user stories. The latter implies integration between idea-generation to user stories in the product backlog.

 A key to business visioning is the ability to generate market-level objectives from ideas so that we have a vision of what we want to build, yet we are adaptable to the ever-changing marketplace. Then we should generate a business case from the ideas, market objectives, potential return on investment, market analysis, and more. There should also be a way to trace from the ideas and objectives to the stories, code, test cases, and deliverables that support them. 

Establishing profiles of potential or existing customers validates our business vision in the long run. This helps us both understand our customers and identify the customers who we will use to recognize and validate customer value. Selecting the wrong customers can lead us astray, so this aspect should be integrated into the customer validation strategy. 

Collaboration: A Platform for Sharing and Brainstorming Customer Value and Product Details
This platform involves virtually replicating an agile team room via collaboration tools. This virtual room can be viewed from your computer, where you can see the rest of the team in action. You could contact team members, have a discussion, break out into individual virtual team rooms, view the user storyboard, see your specific work wall, and more.

We need to enable continuous communication amongst team members where team conversation is threaded. This is as simple as real-time communications amongst team members, but with the ability to integrate and connect conversation to certain events (e.g., sprint planning, daily stand-up, etc.) or certain work (user stories, etc.), so it is available for considering context and further detail if needed.

Within this collaboration platform, we also need support for scrum of scrums collaboration and discussion. There may be a project scrum of scrums when there are multiple scrum teams on a project, product owner scrum of scrums, and architecture scrum of scrums. Each may benefit from a collaboration space.  With the collaboration space to brainstorm and discuss customer value, then we can better ensure we understand the customer needs. 

About the author

AgileConnection is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.