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Planning within an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solution.

  • 10/08/2011
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

We plan because we want to know when we are done. The only way to know when the work is truly complete is to ensure the plans are fully integrated with project execution and always up to date. Included in these plans are all of the organization functions and people that have deliverables and roles in the project, including development, test and those who define the requirements. Also, we track the workloads of all to understand the impact of change and to accurately predict delivery.

Instead of making, planning and executing separate processes that are forever out of sync, your ALM
solution should drive plans directly into project execution. Once tasks, owners and hand-offs are
identified in a project iteration plan, the solution should automate the flow of team activities across
the extended team.

What I’ve seen from working with customers is that without this key criteria (e.g if you maintain your
project plan in a Microsoft project file outside of your ALM environment) the plans will inevitably become stale and inaccurate.  That’s why it’s so critically important that your ALM solution integrates
planning with execution. It’s the key to being able to realistically manage project resources, onboard
new team members and react nimbly to changes introduced by customers or market conditions.

Project Managers ask for results and manually update project plans when tasks are completed. Thus these plans can typically lag behind reality by anywhere from a week to 2 weeks based on the frequency of plan updates. This linkage to execution requires lots of manual effort to keep current, so they are often very high level to avoid having to update too many tasks or more often forgotten about as plans change on the fly. Your ALM solution should automatically identify which project tasks are completed by the team and which tasks are planned and not completed. Everyone in the project should have access to the plans which are composed of the tasks they are performing on a daily basis.

Some useful tips for real time planning within an ALM solution.

Don’t have plans that live outside of the ALM environment.
Use plans that are fully integrated with execution, manage tasks for the entire team, not just the tasks of developers.
Provide plan transparency, where plans are visible and accessible to everyone on the team.
Use plans that make it easy to understand the load, easy to see what your team is currently working on in taskboards.

Don’t: rely on manual, error-prone updates.
Use plans with information at your fingertips, and a user interface that makes it trivial to update plan
information in the context of the work.
Use a plan that provides multiple views on the same data such as Ranked Lists, Planned Time, Taskboards, Work breakdown, by Iteration, or Roadmap (traditional) view.
Practice continuous planning using lifecycle queries and project dashboards to respond to changing
events on the team.

DON’T create an environment where requirements, development and test plans are disconnected and managed separately, or not at all.

Plan across the entire team, not in silos, by linking and populating development and test plans from requirements.
Ensure individual requirements, development work items and test cases are all linked.

DON’T separate team activities and assignments.
Updating time spent directly from the work item makes easy to keep accurate plans.
Instantly see the impact of changes to delivery dates.
Use planned time to balance the load across team members.

DON’T rely on disconnected metrics on past team experiences.
Easily instantiate project plans into individual and team activities.

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