Agile ALM for Delivering Customer Value: Getting Started

Part 1 of 2

From an agile perspective, collocated teams may prefer to work with minimal tooling, using spreadsheets, story walls, and whiteboards. However, as soon as teams become distributed, working with online tools becomes beneficial. This is because it enables distributed teams to see worked within a virtual environment, concurrently share information, and view data in real time.  Others may consider the benefits to utilizing agile tools because of the automation they provide, which improves productivity and work transparency.  The importance is that an ALM framework must enable distributed environments including collaboration.  

Agile Planning and Backlog Management: A Means to Prioritize the Work According to Customer Value
We need to provide a means to establish and manage a product backlog that captures epics, user stories, and tasks and provides tracing amongst them when there is a relationship (from tasks that support the story, from stories to their supporting epic or theme, etc.). This should also be a means to establish sprint and release velocity metrics and generate burn-down and velocity charts in an automated manner, which helps us track progress.    

The good news is this functionality is readily available in a number of tools with some integration with other tools. Within the context of backlog management, we need to provide the sprint planning functionality (prioritization based stories, tasks, and velocity) and the ability to generate sprint backlogs based on priority from the product backlog. This includes the ability to capture acceptance criteria related to a story and set it up in a visible place. The prioritization ensures we are building product functionality

It is important to capture product personas with integration to agile planning tool. This is useful when you are using the canonical form (e.g., <persona><action><business value>) of capturing use stories. You can create the product personas for your specific product and then when the product owner is writing the user stories, they can be linked to the persona details. This helps us better understand the users of the product to ensure we are building a product that is most effective for the users. 

As you consider an ALM framework, consider an agile mindset which helps us focus on the customer.  In my ideal agile ALM framework, the key is that it provides an integrated framework that ensures we are continually focusing on the value of what we are building for our customer throughout the lifecycle.  While in its separate parts, traditional ALM, value chain, and agile methods, each have value.  However, by integrating it effectively with a continual focus on customer value, it creates something innovative and powerful, an agile ALM framework that ensures we are driven to deliver customer value.    

This concludes part one of this two-part series. In "Agile ALM for Delivering Customer Value: Back-end Disciplines," I will focus on the middle to back-end disciplines of a lifecycle that can help you establish and maintain an ALM framework focusing on building hugher customer value. 

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