Organizing the application lifecycle across the enterprise

Tools are not solutions

Once upon a time—many, many moons ago—I was part of what I thought was a relatively large testing team. It had five  people in France, 10 in India and three in the United States. We needed a tool to manage our tests. We set one up (we actually built our own, but this is another story). It was disconnected from the defect tracking system. Requirements were gathered in Excel spreadsheet, as was tracking of the overall progress of the project. It worked well for our test team and that project, but—and there was the problem—it was only working well within our team.

In the same way, our test team had no visibility with what was going on in the source code of the application we were testing. I remember that we had frequent debate with development teams on the volume of the changes which were inserted between test cycles.

On top of that, it became harder and harder to manage test cycles which were spanning multiple product or components. Because the data was managed in different repositories, it was hard—without forcing very complex processes—to easily manage the lifecycle of a solution composed of multiple components or products.

Each team had tools, but none had a solution to manage application lifecycle for the projects coming our way.

 

Without tools, you have no solution

Recently, I was involved with the HP IT task force, which aimed at resolving this problem (don’t we all go in circle on this?). While a blog post is not appropriate to share what we went through (I also want to give you additional incentive to come to HP Discover Frankfurt 2012!), here are some highlights.

In the process, we had to:

  • Understand our application and projects topology: this highly depends on how you work and to a less extent on how you are structured.
  • Partition into workspaces: group the projects, applications and their ALM entities in “workspaces”. The idea is to minimize ALM entity movements and sharing across the boundaries.
  • Organize work within and between workspaces: where do the different actors work? Be mindful of their time: avoid workspace and tool switching.

workspaces.jpg

 

And HP ALM?

It is no secret that HP uses HP ALM a lot internally. This meant that the choice of a tool was behind us! We hit a couple of caveats to implement the solution in HP ALM. That said, key features—such as ALM’s sharable libraries baselines—do help a lot. The flexibility of the HP ALM customization workflow is also an advantage (pre-requisite may be a better word). Lastly, HP ALM’s ability to manage cross-project customization guarantees that we can develop an optimized customization and deploy it as needed across the ALM projects.

To make it all manageable for our scale, we had to create two additional tools to support the process: a list manager (which we released in Open Source – go get it at http://almtools.sourceforge.net/ and help us make it better!) and a permission manager to manage permissions in a way that is more integrated to our development process.

In the end, we are quite comfortable with what we have in place. It’s a journey and I am sure it will evolve over time – in which case I will blog about it here.

 

HP Discover 2012 Frankfurt

I’m actually really passionate about this topic, and I will talk about it at HP Discover Frankfurt – December 4-6 2012, session TB1706. I hope to see you there so that we can discuss it face to face!

 

 

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About the Author
HP IT Distinguished Technologist. Tooling HP's R&D and IT for product development processes and tools.


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