New Technologies will Ensure Outcomes

Through Visibility and Alignment, Next-gen Application Lifecycle Management Tools Can Help Organizations Overcome Challenges.

In a relatively short amount of time, agile has enabled businesses to increase delivery speed, improve quality, standardize release schedules and achieve a plethora of other advantages. And now, with all that accomplished, businesses are ready for more.

Organizations today are looking for work management tools that do all of the above, but at the same time, ensure alignment, improve project success rates and deliver tangible business results.

According to the 2017 PMI Institute’s Pulse of the Profession, organizations currently waste an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested due to poor project performance. Simply put, the average organization throws away 10 percent of every dollar they invest. While that number has undoubtedly improved over the years and businesses are more focused on it than ever before, there’s still room for improvement.

It might not be as simple as it sounds: According to Geneca, 78 percent of organizations feel their business is “usually” or “always” out of sync with project requirements. That’s a problem desperate for a solution and it signals where the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) market must go if it is to meet increasing expectations of customers.

ALM solutions in the coming decade will need to stretch well beyond the tactical benefits associated with work management and transform into the premier platform to help organizations achieve business outcomes.

Two things are required: First, businesses must alter their approach by prioritizing business outcomes over everything else – including faster, more frequent releases. Second, vendors must fortify their offerings with complementary technologies that go well beyond DevOps. Strategic components that are useful to everyone in the organization—from development teams to executive staff—are needed.

Let’s focus on the business approach. We all know agile got its start at a grass roots level by providing work management for small development teams. So, it’s not surprising that today, businesses are still thinking of agile within this context. But building product faster is just one small part of achieving desired top and bottom-line results.

Think of a runner competing in a marathon. No one is focused on hitting mile marker 16. While each mile marker is important, the ultimate goal must always be the finish line. Similarly, organizations (and everyone in them) must remain focused on the real end goal – in this case, business outcomes.

The question for ALM vendors is, how do we help organizations alter their approach and achieve the outcomes they’re looking for? We start by building and integrating the right technologies:

A framework built to ensure visibility and alignment

Next-gen ALM tools must support business outcomes through visibility and alignment. Visibility on every page will allow each individual user to see how the work they’re doing impacts overall business goals. When employees can identify how their work ties directly into a specific desired business result, you have alignment.

ALM tools should be redesigned to help identify and continually broadcast the outcomes a company wants to achieve. It must turn those outcomes into streams of work to be delivered, and ensure teams and individuals understand exactly how the work they’re doing contributes.

The right metrics

It’s time to stop focusing solely on how many features were delivered last quarter. Why? Because if that number didn’t impact your business, it’s irrelevant. It’s time to reevaluate goals that offer no value to the organization. If you’re measured on and achieve a certain number of features being released each quarter, but your customers never use them, you’re measuring the wrong things.

Rather than releases, start thinking about whether you moved the customer satisfaction needle or how effective you were at solving new problems. How have you impacted quality and throughput? And how much progress did you make towards achieving your target business outcomes?

Most importantly, don’t lose focus on the customer. The most important metrics you can gather are those directly attached to the customer. ALM tools should help businesses collect, monitor and leverage customer metrics.

Predictive Analytics

Over time, historical data can be used to help organizations build better, more realistic plans and set better expectations. Employing predictive analytics uses real data to tell you how much you can realistically get done in a specific period. It can highlight dependencies and help to create large-scale, highly-complex dependency management schemes. Perhaps most importantly, it can alert you to challenges on the horizon.

Automation

Solutions that become ubiquitous, can also become cumbersome. No matter the breadth and depth across the organization, they must remain simple and streamlined. Automation can help ALM tools to maintain ease-of-use. For example, integrating a source code management component would allow developers to automatically change the status of the story they’re working on without having to enter the tool for tracking purposes.

Yesterday’s organizations were looking for help to simply become agile—unclog pipes, improve workflow and deliver faster. Today’s organizations have achieved that; now they need help improving business outcomes by maintaining alignment, making smart decisions, delivering customer value and measuring meaningful results. And as they did with agile, organizations will be looking to innovative vendors and technologies to show them the way.


Valerie Zolyak is a Director of Product Management for CA Agile Central. With over 10…

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