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Defining a Project in Application Lifecycle Management or Quality Center

Michael-Deady ‎08-16-2012 07:38 AM - edited ‎09-18-2015 03:55 PM

Most people define both the word and the idea of a project as “a task or planned program of work that requires an amount of time, and effort” which is fine if you're a project manager or your working in a tool like Project Portfolio Management (PPM). In other words project management is a systematic approach to planning and guiding processes not applications or systems from start to finish. Every project management tool is built around processes which are guided by the five stages of initiation, planning, executing, controlling and closing within a defined period of time. You may have noticed the absence of the word quality in the afore mention statements, from project management standpoint quality is a by-product of time versus expenditures and rightly so, even NASA uses that same formula. In addition you may have noticed a common theme in several of the definitions of a project which is the measurement by time, which in most cases define the success of a project, again rightly so but how do you measure the success of the application or systems over time.


If stated that “application (or portfolio) management” and project management are two very different processes that complement each other but are mutually exclusive would you disagree? We already establish that project management is by far the best way to gage your success during an initiative, now let’s focus on the impact of that initiative. During that project we shorted the testing cycles because we only added new functionality and regression was shorten, and some bug fixes where implemented at the last minute which were documented in the project plan. If you read as much about process improvement, root cause analysis and/or bug free application forums you will start to see patterns that defects don’t just happen because bad coding. More than likely an unrealized defect may go unfound for several iterations or initiatives until a catalyst is introduced or business rule has been nullified or forgotten. These things happen for one major reason, we as members of I.T. focus on the here and now and not the long term.


Traceability is what defines the success of the application or systems in production not the ability of discover and eliminate defects before implementation of in given project, sometimes called Defect Removal Effectiveness (DRE = T/(T+R)). Again, DRE is great way to measure the success of a single project but repeatedly doesn’t reflect the true health of the application or system and can be deceptive due to the fact that several of those defects could have been carried over from much older projects. Think of traceability more as the ability to inoculate your application from catching defects. If a developer can link a version of code to a given requirement or business rule thus demonstrating to the analyst the impact of the requirement has on the application functionality be a lot simpler than having tester link a defect to test cases and then to requirements much later and more costly in the development life cycle. The bye-product of traceability is built-in root cause analysis, if a defect is found the tester, analyst or developer would quickly trace it back to the code or requirement and then look at past versions of the requirements or code to see where the defect originated before patching the problem. Every time you add code as a patch to an application you introduce the possibility of  of new defects to the equation.


I know I’m really reaching here, but if I could quote George Santayana “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We all know that 20% of applications or systems functionality causes 80% of the defects are found in production then wouldn’t it be wise to document those areas and focus your resources on that functionality. While most of us realize the statement to be true we couldn’t point those problem areas until the end of the project. Unless you frequently assign the same specific people to the same application and task or make all the accumulated information of an application readily available in a single location and place in some type of searchable media, then you are doomed to lose application experience or knowledge.


The definition ALM is a continuous process of managing the life of an application through governance, and development of the application or system from concept to decommission.


While most of this knowledge or information is usually printed in some type of media it has no single point of dissemination and tools can range from project plans, word documents, spreadsheets, modeling tool formats, IDE’s platforms, and/or code repository for many development groups. In the complex and growing I.T. industry we have only two choices, either select a very costly tool that have all the development process embedded into a given platform or use what I call the best tools for the job scenario. This Best of Breed (BoB) selection process is looking for a tool that will integrate with most of the popular tool sets, and current development methodology on the market today. When using BoB in selecting an application management tool look at the ability of the application flexibility and make sure has a proven track record in traceability and quality. Look at tools that are both methodology and process agnostic and please avoid shareware when in the tool selection process, a company will need accountability when security and quality are the factors at risk.Would you use words like continuous or insightful to describe the topology of your project within ALM or QC and does it reflect the current state of your applications, or does your projects within ALM seem disjointed or fragmented with no clear direction. 


ALM with is open architecture, Application Programming Interface  API’s, customization, build-in synchronizer, IDE’s, and third party add-ons  give companies the ability to leverage their current suite of tools, methodologies,  and processes while implementing single point of reference for application development. Each user can use the tool of their choice and yet still draw from the single point of data for several applications and projects. If you’re looking for BoB in the market to for Application Management just look at the number of partner, vendors, and tools that integrate with ALM.   


I would like you to look at how your team, group, or company defined a project in ALM or Quality Center (QC)? Does your project reflect a logical collection of data relevant to a set of applications that interacts to serve a business purpose and does that data reflected the history of the hardware, software, code, requirements, tests, defects, and/or any other artifacts used in the building and validation of the system over the life of the application or system from concept to decommission. If you would like to know more about project topology best practices or ALM definitions please contact me or you HP sales person. 


If you currently use ALM or your company is thinking upgrading or converting to ALM please contact the Professional Services Group within HP Software. We can aid companies with best practices document, project templates, process training, and a full delivery package (including Quick starts). We currently are implementing a solution offering around a complete CoE package by module. If your company is looking for module by module best practices, templates, standardized documentation, KPI’s and process flows this solution offering could jump start your application management process years ahead and can be implement with the methodologies and processes of your choosing. The module packaging would stand alone or fit together like pieces of a puzzle. 


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About the Author


Michael Deady is a Pr. Consultant & Solution Architect for Teksystems, center on quality, aimed at client's satisfaction, and long-term success. Perceived by clients, peers, and supervisors as a leader with the proven ability to lead development and quality assurance teams through software-development life cycle phases, to ensure quality of new products. He specializes in software development, testing, and security. He also loves science fiction movies and anything to do with Texas.

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