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Can ALM platforms provide business agility?

Business scenarios are undergoing paradigm shifts with more than 65% of the IT budgets today being spent on maintaining the existing applications!!! 

As a result Application Maintenance has become one of the top priorities for any CIO today. Application Maintenance actually streamlines the existing IT systems to align with the business requirements and deliver business-value All-in-all, business agility is tightly coupled with Application Maintenance and the capabilities of the team performing these activities.

Client organizations and IT vendors are constantly in search of processes, practices, platforms and tools to enhance their maintenance team's capabilities to deliver faster, cheaper and better. Every organization follows some process framework and implements a large number of tools and accelerators. However the output is nowhere near to the optimal level.  In my opinion, the key to their success would be to have a single Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform that integrates these processes, tools and accelerators to provide a single workbench for the application maintenance teams.

Most of the ALM platforms available in the market today, however, are designed as per product requirements. These ALM platforms may not meet the complex requirements of a maintenance project. In a typical maintenance project scenario, there are many applications to be maintained, the technology stack is diverse, the process frameworks are varied and the teams are distributed. All these factors contribute to the ALM platforms falling short of expectations in Application Maintenance projects.

So, is there any ALM platform which can be used with ease in an application maintenance project? What would be its typical characteristics? How would it be different? 

The answer lies in building a platform with three main characteristics viz-a-viz flexibility (an ability to mold itself to adapt to any project scenario), efficiency driven (possibility of increasing the throughput without additional load on the team) and control driven (maintaining compliance through increased usability, automation and implicit control mechanisms).

Flexibility - The ALM platform should be flexibility driven to adapt to any project scenario. For e.g. the platform should be flexible enough to adapt to any type of delivery model be it waterfall, agile or iterative. Similarly, it should be flexible to adapt to the way tasks, reviews and defects are handled.

Efficiency driven - The ALM platform should be driven by efficiency with an objective to increase the throughput. For e.g. In any project, diligent knowledge capturing is a task. Generally, the knowledge which is shared is done only in terms of conversations and verbal communications. Wouldn't it improve the team's efficiency if the knowledge can be captured somewhere and be made available for reuse?

Control driven - Application maintenance teams are always under pressure to deliver. This means that there is never enough time for the core deliverables let alone cater to the enabling tasks such as reviews, status updates, tracking, monitoring etc. The greater challenge for any ALM platform is to provide better control over the process compliance and quality with less effort spent by the team. It would be of great help to have a platform which can help in maintaining control and aide in compliance.

At the end, it is all about having an integrated yet flexible, efficiency and control driven ALM platform. This will sky-rocket the application maintenance team's productivity and subsequently the quality of delivery. Could you ask for any more business agility?

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