The First Question About ALM Tools Isn't About The Tools

We've been talking about the next stage of application life-cycle management (ALM) for several years now. As my colleague Dave West argued, the vision of ALM 2.0 is clear, compelling, and comprehensible. While ALM tools might have a ways to go to fulfill this vision, they have made significant strides in one particular area: integration among tools, whether or not they come from the same vendor. The momentum for ALM integration isn't unique, propelled by the same forces that make integration the killer app in other segments of the software market (CRM, content management, collaboration, etc. etc.). Tools provide potentially valuable capabilities, but these capabilities don't map exactly to the way people work.

The Work Defines The Tool, Not The Other Way Around
The primacy of work over tools explains why ALM 1.0 died quickly from its own success. Having convinced app dev teams of the value of point solutions for task management, planning testing, requirements, release management, and other functions, the obvious question on practically every customer's mind was, "What other tools might help us?" We should be careful about how we understand that question, which is not synonymous with, "What other activities might we make easier or more successful?" The tools are, more often than not, part of the same activity. Planning, for example, should identify risks that shape what requirements you write and what tests you build.

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