One common request ALM instructors receive as students walk in the door on the first day of ALM training is, “How can I track application progress as it relates to the project plan?” Understanding the bells and whistles that are available with ALM help students become more productive ALM users.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Project Planning and Tracking feature of the Release module allows the users and managers to track the readiness of the application as defined by milestones. After identifying and creating the necessary pieces, ALM generates a Scorecard, which is a grid of the milestones and the goals to be met within each milestone.
Milestones are part of a Release and have date ranges during which application features are completed. For example, Release 10.1 starts on January 1, 2013 and ends on January 31, 2013. A milestone is defined within that Release date range. A milestone may be named “Payment Processing Integration” starting on January 15, 2013 and ending on January 20, 2013. Milestones should be specific, significant and measurable – ensuring they are clear and meaningful to the stakeholders interpreting them. ALM will determine if the milestone was achieved on time. The ALM user then communicates that information to the stakeholders. Since milestones that take up too much time may lead to team stress or procrastination, it’s better to have more milestones with less content to achieve a sense of accomplishment as the project progresses.
Once the milestone is created, the user names the scope items and assigns content. Scope items are created with requirements and/or tests assigned as the content. For the “Payment Processing Integration” milestone, the user may have scope items such as “Redirect Shopping Cart to PayPal” and “Send Payment Confirmation.” These scope items will contain specific development and testing requirements and tests that define and check the criteria needed to meet the milestone.
The next step is assigning Key Point Indicators (KPIs) to each scope item. ALM comes with several default KPIs such as Severe Defects, Passed Tests and Automated Tests. Users may also add custom KPIs through ALM’s customization interface. KPIs assigned to each scope item with thresholds will produce green for an OK range, yellow for a Warning range, or red for a Fail range.
Once the milestones have identified scope items with content and KPIs, users may view the Scorecard in the Release module. The cool part is – it’s live metrics - at the users’ finger tips! As defects are logged, tests are automated, tests pass, etc., the Scorecard changes! Not only does the Scorecard represent the chosen metrics in color, the numbers are displayed. So if the user has chosen to display the Automated Tests as a show the actual percentage. Want the details of those automated tests? Click in the block – a new window opens that will display a supporting graph!
ALM is full of features that lots of people want and need – they just miss that they are now part of ALM. Scorecard, used correctly, is one of the features that can make life so much easier for Test Leads, Test Managers and Project Managers. It puts application development information right at your fingertips.
Sarah Roderus, TCT Computing, VP Consulting Services