JIRA integration and coupling with HP Application Lifecycle Management (HP ALM) to support agile process management.
Integrating functioning software into the existing structures and processes of a company always poses a challenge. Swisslab offers its customers personalised solutions, help with update processes and technical support, all of which demand quick reaction time and high flexibility. Therefore using the scrum process framework for software development seems obvious and reasonable.
However, the company's needs are aimed at unified processes, comprehensive metrics and the transparency in decision making. The process- and tool landscapes, with separate functional areas and long-term update cycles have been influenced mainly by device driver development. Our goal was to unify these with the flexibility and agility desired by Swisslab.
Swisslab successfully worked on a self-developed ticketing system for managing requirements, development and test-related tasks. This system was closely modelled on existing processes.
The task for their company stood in deploying the tool HP Application Lifecycle Management (previously known as HP Quality Center) from which to generate standardised documents and metrics, as well as map company processes. The tool serves as ideal support for administrating calls and for the planning and execution of manual tests. However, in terms of serving as a ticketing system for agile software development with short cycles and multifunctional teams in a scrum-of-scrum scenarios, the tool is understandably unsuited. The idea of using a separate ticketing system for development and synchronising content according to HP ALM was floated – however, expanding their own development turned out to be unfeasible for Swisslab.
For this reason, they tasked kreuzwerker – as Atlassian Experts and advisors for agile software development – with assessing, whether JIRA could be individualised and integrated into HP ALM.
kreuzwerker assisted Swisslab with the requirements analysis:
Due to the fact that JIRA and JIRA Agile are modelled very closely to the scrum process, there were hardly any hiccups in being able to fulfil requirements. Even the integration of established Swisslab processes proved easy, thanks to the high customisability of JIRA.
Synchronising the JIRA tickets to HP ALM posed a challenge. Synchronisation itself was possible within reasonable technical efforts – both systems provide sufficient support for the communication via APIs. Further, JIRA's functionality could easily be expanded by self-developed plugins. The difficulty arose in unifying the different ways that JIRA and HP ALM deal with the life cycle of one ticket. In JIRA, one field – defining, for example, in which version a problem should be solved – is either editable or not editable for a user with a certain project role. It is irrelevant how far the ticket is within the process of implementation. With HP ALM on the other hand, a field has to be filled at a certain point within the workflow and will not be editable afterwards. In the end, Script Runner and other plugins allowed us to customise JIRA to the point that conceptual differences of this kind could be overcome. The integration has been working successfully for over a year.
Our deep understanding of JIRA's functionality and expandability options helped Swisslab in a complex software implementation under a diverse set of requirements. Our advice concerned transitioning to agile development processes and their mapping on a tool landscape. It led to a near trouble-free switch and an improvement of overall quality and transparency.
kreuzwerker was able to support Swisslab in ensuring that all functional areas would work using the right tools while complying with corporate standards. Requirements and test procedures management was moved to HP ALM; development tickets, sprints, epics and backlogs were moved to JIRA and JIRA Agile. Full software integration facilitated in effective, customer-focused work.
We noticed that many companies do not realise the potential of customising their tool landscape to their individual needs.
Fully integrated JIRA and HP ALM has proved to be working seamlessly ever since. We are excited to continue working with Swisslab and include JIRA in agile processes in other units. This makes it possible to stop having to waste time and energy on tools and processes and being able to focus back on the actual work.