One of the problems with application lifecycle management (ALM) is that there are plenty of modules available for managing application code, but very little in the way of tools to manage the overall project.
So it's interesting to watch the folks at Serena Software add an Orchestrated ALM Dashboard that adds a series of executive-class business intelligence tools to its ALM framework. According to David Hurwitz, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Serena, the basic idea behind adding BI tools to the framework is to make it easier to see the relationships between projects, manage requirements and establish key performance indicators (KPIs) alongside all the traditional application development process management tools that are already included.
Essentially, says Hurwitz, Serena is trying to make it easier to wrap some business context around ALM. None of this is to say that IT managers have not been doing this already using any number of tools. But the ability to more seamlessly link a slip in an application development deadline to an actual business outcome at a time when more applications are being developed faster than ever adds some immediate financial perspective to the overall ALM project management environment.
Beyond the simple fact that there are probably plenty of folks on the business side who would like visibility into just this kind of information, it also serves as a reminder to the developers just how much the entire business is frequently dependent on the timely delivery of their code. Many of those same developers would also say they don't need fancy dashboards to be reminded of that. And yet, given the fact that most application code these days still arrives late, you can't help but wonder what's going wrong between when the requirements for the project were first unrealistically set and the actual code, minus a few key features here and there, was actually delivered.
Obviously, dashboards and other tools, especially when it comes to a creative process such as application development, can be taken too far. But somewhere between the total chaos of the artistic freedom required to create an application and the autocratic nature of the finance department, we should be able to find a reasonable medium.