After almost a year of work, Jeffrey Hammond and I finally published the Agile Development Management Tools Forrester Wave™ evaluation. So I thought I would share some of the observations from this report. Agile has changed the way in which development teams work, and this changed motivated the Forrester Wave. A change that has meant not only new ways of working, but also new vendors have entered the traditional application life-cycle management marketplace. The Forrester Wave focused on the following main areas:
- Tools have changed to be task, management and report oriented. Traditional ALM tools focused on development artifacts and their relationship. They supported the principle that requirements trace to test, which traces to build, which traces to design, etc. Complex metamodels supported this approach, allowing ALM tools to manage this traceability. ALM 2.0 described a world where the data could be held in many ‘federated’ repositories all accessible from a single tool. That vision is still sound, but the reality of its implementation has been somewhat different, with customers looking to ALM tools to solve the problem of effectively managing work before managing complex relationships of artifacts over time. To this end, ALM tools have changed focus to bring change and task management to the top of the feature list in preference to traceability and artifact reuse. The resulting tools focus on supporting the development team in their daily tasks and enabling work to be reported and measured.
- Project management becomes integrated. Planning and reporting on development projects has traditionally been disconnected from the actual work being done with project management tools, providing only limited integration with ALM tools. With the move to Agile methods, project management requires more complete integration, allowing teams to re-plan frequently and optimize flow within the team. A more integrated solution means that task, change (defect or story) and resource can be linked and reported on which provides a more streamlined planning and reporting approach.
- Scrum is popular, but ‘Scrum but’ is the implementation. Scrum is the most popular Agile method, with many teams using this framework as the basis of their approach, but increasingly we found teams following Scrum but adding other practices to this base flow: practices from other Agile processes such as XP or FDD, but also from more traditional approaches such as PMBOK and the Unified Process. In response, the Forrester Wave concentrates on Scrum, but also includes a number of criteria around process customization.
- Integration with other tools is key. The majority of customers using ALM tools have a unique collection of practitioner tools, thus expecting those customers to move to one vendor for all those products is unlikely. As the practitioner tools market becomes both specialized and commoditized, it is important for an ALM tool to provide good integration, allowing data to be harvested from those tools and work to be driven to them. Agile encourages dashboards to be created that show build, test and work status – thus any tools integration must be able to harvest that information.
The Agile Development Management Tools Forrester Wave evaluated ten tool vendors; MKS, IBM, CollabNet, Rally Software, Atlassian, HP, Serena, Microsoft, VersionOne, and Micro Focus.
Forrester’s evaluation of Agile development management (ADM) tools reveals a vibrant, competitive, and changing market. The merging of traditional ALM features with Agile project management highlights that the Agile program portfolio management (PPM) market and ALM markets are consolidating. Many vendors continue to invest in program and project management, and reporting and integration with development, test, build and deployment tools. The resulting solution provides a task-driven, Agile-oriented development management platform that consolidates planning, status and real project metrics in one place. It also provides visibility of requirements, defects, and change requests for a system or product allowing broader application life-cycle activities to be consolidated in this platform. Apart from reviewing the Forrester Wave, Application Development professionals should consider the following:
- Look to their current tools to provide better support for Agile teams. It is clear from the Forrester Wave evaluation that Agile is being merged with traditional approaches. The resulting “hybrid” tools should support backlog-driven task management, allowing teams to not only plan work, but also execute that work within their practitioner tools, and then provide reports of that work executing.
- Integrate planning into ALM. The drive to Agile approaches has increased the frequency and number of plans created. This encourages an approach that frequently inspects the plan, and updates with current experience.
- Use ALM tool as the change hub for software delivery. Providing one truth is key to success in Agile methods. Using the ALM tool as the primary place to manage all work and changes to that work enables teams to have a clear vision of what is happening and roll up that information into broader organizational views.