A software or an application is not only limited to one or many programs used by clients. A software is born, lives and dies; that’s why we refer to the “lifecycle” of a software. The lifecycle of an application is made of all the stages punctuating its course; from the starting idea until the users stop to use it, and from the conception and the implementation to its upkeep. The Application Lifecycle Management, or ALM, is the process allowing to manage the lifecycle of the software. We’ll now give your further details to discover the lifecycle of a software within an Agile project.
The lifecycle of a software
To keep it simple, the lifecycle of a software or an application is composed of multiple stages, from its conception until its demise.
Why breaking it down like that? Building a software, developing it and taking care of its upkeep doesn’t seem very complicated. You’re wrong! Creating an application is on the contrary very intricate, or rather a succession of operations that are more or less complicated. These operations need to be performed in a precise order and are generally very dependent from one another.
Breaking down the lifecycle of a software in “unitary” stages will enable you to set up the milestones and verification and validation processes which will be related to them. It’s a good way to ensure the quality of the work produced. It also allows you to make sure the deadlines and the implementation costs are under control and that they do not risk to skid. The more the detection of a fault or an anomaly is delayed, the more the cost to make the application compatible is going to rise.
Lifecycle of the application in an Agile project
With the Agile methods, the development cycle of the software is iterative. The project’s implementation will be broken down into iterations (called sprints in the case of the agile scrum method) resuming the following stages:
- Needs’ assessment: needs and restraints collection and expression with the client, drafting of a summary document.
- Design or general specification: global structure and description of the software’s functionalities.
- Design or detailed specification: definition of the detail of the functionalities by creating lots, or sub-groups, of the software that will gather the related or linked functionalities.
- Design or technical specification: the functionalities having been identified, we now have to figure out how they will effectively be implemented.
- Implementation: this is the development phase. The programmers will translate the outlined functionalities of the previous phases into code.
- Unitary tests: the unitary tests are used to unitarily check that each code unit, when being run, acts accordingly to the specifications. Ideally, development is led by the tests (TDD, or Test Driven Development) and, consequently, tests are written by programmers during the implementation phase.
- Integration: all the elements developed are gathered to assess that they interact properly and that they work well together. These checks are done through integration tests. They can be carried out together with the project’s team and the client.
- Qualification: the client assesses the compliance of the developed application with the outlined specifications.
Each iteration, which usually lasts from two to four weeks, will cover up a limited number of functionalities. Each selected functionality will go through the different stages, will fully be developed and delivered to the client at the end of the sprint to be certified. The main benefit of the agile scrum model is that it easily adapts to changes. Every two to four weeks, the client receives fully operational functionalities that he can test and validate. It is then possible to modify a functionality if we realize that it does not completely match the actual need, or to modify the application’s structure to solve a technical blockage. The anomalies are quickly spotted and are therefore less costly to rectify.
The application lifecycle management
Faced with the growing complexity of application development projects, it has been necessary to formalize the way the lifecycle of a project is managed. That’s how the Application Lifecycle Management was born.
The goal of the ALM is to manage the lifecycle of the software, from its starting idea all the way to its production and its maintenance phase, and through its design, implementation and validation.
All the contributors must participate in the lifecycle of the application. The ALM gives tools to technical teams, to functional and trade specialists (who can run tests, suggest improvements…), to users (who will identify the anomalies), to marketing and business teams (who will be able to make improvements’ suggestions according to the market’s needs and rival softwares).
The ALM is therefore going to be equally used for the needs’ assessment, the management of the project, the development cycle of the software, the support (HelpDesk), the quality control…
Using ALM will allow for a better quality, greater efficiency of the teams and a real-time follow-up of the tasks’ progresses and of the project in general.
To conclude on the lifecycle of a software or an application
The management of the application lifecycle is vital for the success of a software development project. It insures a thorough follow-up, an efficient process of quality and a better interaction between all the contributors.
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