Traditionally, software development followed the waterfall approach in which lengthy business requirement documents were needed to start the process. Once code was written, it was then sent to testing teams, then back to development, generally with multiple iterations. In the meantime, requirements would change and the process would start all over again, leading to delayed releases and lost productivity and revenue.

Today, with the prominence of the cloud and the proliferation of mobile devices, this approach no longer works. The software development lifecycle needs to follow a more agile approach with more collaboration and automation throughout the entire process.

Automating the process with management platforms

To meet these new demands and make the development process more efficient, agile development and test teams can harness software development lifecycle (SDLC) management and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools. With a comprehensive SDLC or ALM platform, enterprises can break down the silos between business operations, development and testing teams, allowing the groups to work collaboratively to decrease the inefficiencies created by a more traditional approach. This is vital in today's cloud-driven, mobile world, since internal teams often work in a distributed environment or across geographic borders. Deploying SDLC and ALM also makes it possible to feed important customer feedback into the process.

Automating software development through collaboration

Collaborative SDLC and ALM tools allow internal teams and customers to drive efficiency through a number of features. A comprehensive platform should include the following:

  • Communications features, such as instant messaging, forums and status updates
  • Dashboards that connect all stages of the application lifecycle in a single pane
  • The ability to trace and send notifications when changes are made to code
  • Dependency mapping
  • Collective feedback, including polling and voting
  • Linking of artifacts

The bottom line is that communication and collaboration are key to efficiently leveraging automation and streamlining the development process.

The rise of the cloud and the proliferation of mobile devices are no longer trends — they are the foundation all businesses must now use to operate. New, agile approaches to application development are required to remain competitive and efficient, and this can only be done by automating the process with collaborative SDLC management and ALM tools. Using automation not only makes the development process less tedious, but it also enables companies to drive down costs and remain competitive in a world that is no longer dominated by one operating system and type of device.

Have you incorporated automation technology into your software development process? Which benefits did you experience? Let us know in the comments.

Karin Kelley is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years at 451 Research, where she spearheaded coverage on emerging desktops-as-a-service (DaaS) markets. She has extensive expertise in enterprise infrastructure software and services, as well as a deep understanding of SMB, MSP and hosting markets. Karin holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Humboldt State University, where she also studied Geology.