Below you’ll find an overview of each of the 10 best ALM software, with screenshots, feature overviews, and pricing.
The landscape of ALM tools is shifting beneath our feet. Why?
Because the discipline of ALM, or Application Lifecycle Management, is undergoing a shift—IoT is blooming, and the line between physical products and software has already begun to blur. Many organizations are finding that they need to update, integrate, or reconsider the Application Lifecycle Management tools they’re using in order set up a system that truly supports the nature of their lifecycle (whether it’s hardware, software, or something in between—I’ll get to that later).
In this review, I provide a brief ALM definition and explain what ALM tools are—what they do, what benefits they provide, and what a good ALM tool should offer. I’ve included a detailed breakdown of some of the top ALM software on the market (including their features, integrations, pricing, and more). Finally, I describe the main points you should consider when choosing an ALM tool for your organization.
ALM Comparison Criteria
Here are a few key things I look for in any tool that makes this list:
- User Interface: The tool should look good and be intuitive to navigate.
- Usability: The tool should be easy to learn and come with training materials ready to go.
- Integrations: The tool should connect to other third party software development tools (SW development tools), deployment environments, servers, and reporting tools.
- Value for Price: The price should be fair, transparent, and scalable. The price point should match the breadth and depths of features provided.
ALM Key Features
- Requirements management: Develop requirements and user-stories, then decompose into detailed tasks for resource tracking. Prioritize and schedule requirements for each release/iteration. Assign requirements, tasks, and incidents using Agile planning board.
- Testing and QA: Create, edit, and execute test-cases; create and assign test sets for test execution management; map tests to requirements to track coverage; and manage manual and automated testing.
- Bug-Tracking: Record bugs linked to test steps for full test traceability. Track bugs, enhancements, risks, and issues linked to changes in your source code repository.
- Project Management + Reporting: Personalized dashboards and customizable reporting. Full audit history of all changes made in the system. Customizable graphs and reports in multiple formats (HTML, MS-Office, and Adobe Acrobat).
- Collaboration: Ability to attach documents, screenshots, and URLs to all artifacts. Messaging, notifications, reviews, and approvals
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Intland Software’s codebeamer is an application lifecycle management platform for advanced product and software development in traditional or regulated safety-critical industries.
The open platform extends comprehensive ALM functionalities with product line configuration capabilities, and provides unique configurability for complex processes. codebeamer is a complete lifecycle management solution with all-in-one requirements, risk, and test management capabilities. The platform provides unique digital workflows for collaborative development, efficiency in product line engineering, and regulatory compliance support for highly regulated industries.
Provide all your teams with a collaborative development hub that enables streamlined data access for all stakeholders. Use codebeamer to establish a digital thread that connects workflows, teams, and tools in digital product innovation. Easily adapt the solution to special engineering needs, and automate process control for regulatory requirements.
Native integrations, flexible APIs, and connections to Integration-as-a-Service hubs enable teams to contribute to the shared development process without disrupting existing toolchains. Visual data analytics capabilities provide end-to-end lifecycle insights with custom reports.
The tool integrates with Jira, Microsoft Word, Excel, IBM Rational DOORS, and plenty more.
codebeamer is available as an on-premise or cloud-hosted SaaS starting at $125/user/month. A free 30-day trial is provided.
Visure is known as the breakthrough vendor in ALM platforms, offering a product that allows companies of all sizes to perform advanced requirements management throughout the application lifecycle. Their Requirements ALM solution was built to address embedded systems and system engineering needs, offering a single unified requirements ALM platform capable of supporting different development lifecycle processes. This solution factors in all aspects of system engineering development, including product software, embedded software, electrical, mechanical and hardware requirements, and enterprise IT development.
Visure Requirements ALM Platform is a comprehensive tool that supports several lifecycle management activities. These include requirements management, bug and issue management, change management, risk management, testing, configuration management, quality management, and reporting. Its end-to-end requirement traceability is defined through a graphical representation (Visure Meta-Model) that automatically enforces traceability throughout projects. The centralized database allows multiple distributed stakeholders collaborate in one platform.
Visure’s API integrates with 3 party tools such as modeling tools, other RM tools, prototyping tools, bug-tracking tools, testing tools, project management tools, ALM tools, and PLM tools.
Visure’s pricing and trial information are available on request. They also offer demos and product sheets.
Jama Connect is an with a feature set that supports complex products, systems, projects, and industry-focused services.
Features include the ability to accurately capture and communicate requirements, goals, progress, and interdependencies throughout the development process. It also allows end-to-end live traceability of people, data, and processes, along with real-time impact analysis, reviews, and approvals with team collaboration. You can manage requirements and traceability across the lifecycle, with flexibility to support various engineering disciplines and development methodologies.
You can integrate Jama Connect requirements and test plans with ALM, PLM, QA, and MBSE to ensure full traceability, visibility, and collaboration across the lifecycle. With API integrations and third-party integration hubs, teams can work in familiar tools while contributing to projects in Jama Connect.
Jama Connect licenses are available on a user and floating basis through an annual subscription model. Pricing and trial information is available upon request.
MeisterTask is a task and project management tool that can be used to facilitate application lifecycle management. Requirements, bugs, and test cases can be tracked using the task management features. Users can assign team members to tasks, set due dates, track time, and more. MeisterTask is intuitive and simple to use, with a clean interface
The tool also allows users to create custom fields and checklists for tasks, add attachments and share files, set task dependencies and relationships, and use tags to organize tasks. There is also a timeline feature that works similarly to a Gantt chart, displaying all tasks within a project according to due dates and the order in which they should be completed. Users can drag-and-drop to adjust deadlines and add tasks, as well as colour-code items on the timeline.
MeisterTask also offers a variety of automations, the ability to create recurring tasks, and Kanban boards. Users can also set up backlogs and manage tasks on them collaboratively. Real-time notifications keep both the project team and the product owner up to date about project progress, while detailed statistics and reports provide insight into the team’s performance. Communication features include comments, mentions, and email notifications.
MeisterTask integrates with sister software MindMeister as well as Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, Zendesk, Google Drive, and more.
MeisterTask costs from $8.25/user/month. They also offer a freemium plan.
Atlassian is a household name in software development lifecycle (SDLC) tools. Usually, people compare it to the likes of big names like IBM and the HP ALM tool. They offer solutions geared toward agile development teams in anything from startups to corporate enterprises.
The Atlassian software suite for ALM can include any number of Atlassian products, sold separately, that integrate with one another. These include Jira (task and project management), Confluence (collaboration), HipChat (real-time messaging), Bitbucket and Stash (code management and software developing tools), and add-ons like Jira Service Desk (issue management and support). These are available on-premise or as a SaaS.
The main advantage of using Jira and other Atlassian products for ALM is the well-developed suite of plug-ins, add-ons, and modules that you can use to customize your solution. It’s a good choice for organizations who plan to expand or who have large, distributed teams (it’s worth noting that Atlassian products are available in about a dozen languages). The suite can be customized for just about every use case conceivable, and they offer good support and training through their Expert network and Atlassian University.
At the same time, while Jira is highly customizable, it doesn’t offer the out-of-the-box convenience or structure that a more all-encompassing solution does. You have to come with some knowledge of the features your business requires, and where to find them in the Atlassian suite.
Jira costs from $10/month for 1-10 users.
Targetprocess is marketed as a visual platform to help agile teams scale, providing support for LeSS and SAFe as well as the custom agile framework of your choosing. It's a hybrid between an all-in-one solution and a platform like Tuleap that’s designed to sync your existing tools.
Targetprocess is a really good choice for small to mid-sized companies who aim to scale quickly. Because they offer a free basic version with unlimited users, it’s an attractive choice for teams who are trying out an ALM system for the first time and need to get the hang of their new processes without being overwhelmed by features (or paying an arm and leg for a license).
It supplies an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface with tools for workflow configuration, requirements management, task management, web-based administration (field-level mapping, automated conflict resolution, etc.), and reporting at the portfolio, program, and product level). Additionally, they offer a Service Desk standalone app that enables issue management in the same standard environment as your development.
Targetprocess comes with 60+ pre-built integrations and offers plugins, mashups, webhooks, REST API and SDK to sync with your existing SLDC tools. It’s available as a SaaS and as an on-premise solution.
Targetprocess costs from $20/user/month. They also offer a free Team version with unlimited users.
Tuleap is quite different from the other tools on the list. In essence, it’s an all-in-one, 100% open source ALM software that provides an open framework for various ALM configurations. They market the tool as being “designed to be re-designed” by your teams. As a result, it grants you the ability to integrate a large number of familiar project management, requirements management, code versioning, code review, CI, test management, documentation, collaboration, and tracking tools.
Tuleap can be set up for the methodologies of your choice (Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall) and allows you to work with tools that might already be in your toolkit (Git, Jenkins, Eclipse, etc). It’s an enterprise-class solution that can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud.
Like a lot of open-source software, a major benefit of using Tuleap is community support. Users can get access to the Community Edition—Tuleap’s under development branch—for free, and the company hosts regular webinars and live training and tutorials with Q&A sessions. This is a great ALM tool for teams who use, and like using, a lot of different tools and simply want a central place to integrate them.
Paid versions of Tuleap cost from €5/user/month (~ $5.71 USD/user/month).
Micro Focus offers various products for application lifecycle management, with ALM Octane acting as the main platform and syncing with other applications like their DevOps suite. This is an enterprise agile solution designed to help you scale agile processes, but it accommodates Waterfall and hybrid methodologies as well.
Micro Focus’ ALM software supplies features for continuous ALM testing, defect management, requirements management, cross-project reporting, quality management, and more. It enables organizations to analyze and track continuous pipelines in order to get real-time insight into your CI and CD ecosystems, and it offers a very high degree of flexibility in its business rule engines and customizable forms.
Although the reporting features aren’t quite as good as some of the other tools on this list, users have praised Micro Focus’ ALM tools for their short learning curve: its easily configured graphical interface, as well as its speedy implementation and quick adoption by members within the organization. Overall, this tool is best suited to businesses with a DevOps focus—it offers an array of high-value DevOps-related features that don’t really make sense for use cases where DevOps doesn’t come into play.
Micro Focus can be integrated with 3rd party tools through its REST API, and it comes with out-of-the-box integrations with leading tools like TFS, Jira, Jenkins, Git, and Visual Studio.
Micro Focus ALM Software costs from approx. $150/month.
Formerly Seapine TTP, Perforce’s Helix ALM software is an integration of 3 modules which you can use all together or separately: Helix RM (requirements management), Helix TCM (test case management) and Helix IM (issue management).
Helix ALM is a fast, powerful tool with a great graphical user interface, powerful CLI, and easy integration with IDEs and CI systems. It supports all project methodologies, including hybrids, and offers a comprehensive set of features for requirements management, planning, testing management, issue tracking, automated workflow configuration, risk management, change management, reporting, and collaboration with stakeholders.
The advantage of using Helix ALM is that it’s a very powerful, reliable tool for large projects, and it’s especially well-suited for industries with rigorous compliance standards. The downside to using this tool is that it takes effort to learn and understand how it works—many users have commented on its difficult learning curve and the need to factor in time to train your teams on best practices for using the software.
Helix ALM integrates quickly with source control tools and comes with pre-built integrations with tools like Jira (two-way sync), Slack, git, Rational Doors, Visual Studio, eclipse, and several others.
Perforce Helix ALM costs from $89/month.
The two companies CollabNet and VersionOne merged in 2017, combining their software to create an attractive offering of ALM, DevOps, and Agile enterprise solutions. This is a leading example of the type of evolution we can expect to see in ALM as more and more organizations are unifying development and operations, adopting a customized agile approach—and needing a toolset that’s designed to actively shape this evolving, unified atmosphere.
Collabnet VersionOne’s ALM toolkit is designed to help agile enterprises scale, with support for Scrum, Kanban, XP, SAFe, and hybrid methodologies.
Along with VersionOne, which provides agile enterprise management features, their ALM suite includes products like Continuum (continuous delivery platform/DevOps), TeamForge (management platform for bi-modal development), TeamForge SCM (version control compliance, governance, security), and VS (value stream). Through this collection of products, they supply virtually everything under the sun—features for release automation, customer idea management, portfolio planning, test case management, defect tracking, reporting, budgeting, and much more.
Additionally, Collabnet VersionOne comes with 80+ pre-built integrations with leading tools like Jira, CA Agile, ServiceNow, Microsoft TFS, HP, Salesforce, Perforce, GitHub, Jenkins (and the list goes on). On top of this, they sweeten the deal by providing ample support in the form of Scrum, Agile, and product trainings, along with implementation and agile transformation consulting.
Collabnet VersionOne costs from $29/month/user.
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ALM Tools Buyer’s Guide
What Is ALM?
Easy question, not such an easy answer.
To start, the Application Lifecycle Management Body of Knowledge (ALMBOK) gives a basic ALM meaning:
“ALM defines how a software application is managed from conception, through its creation and deployment, to its eventual retirement.”
In practice, ALM isn’t quite as cut and dry.
The line between software and hardware (including physical products) is blurring with the growth of IoT. The once-separate disciplines of ALM, which is largely concerned with software lifecycle management, and PLM, which involves physical product lifecycle management, are converging. Many industry experts predict that within a few years we’ll simply call it Enterprise Lifecycle Management, or ELM.
That said, ALM is a broad term that encompasses many disciplines.
To illustrate my point, here’s a list of disciplines that fall under the ALM umbrella or have some overlap with ALM:
- Business Case Development
- Project Management
- Assets Management
- Security Management
- License Management
- Change Management
- Release Management
- Requirements Management
- Quality Assurance
- Customer Support
- IT Service Delivery
- Software Testing
- Portfolio Management (Project, Application, etc.)
- Business Process Management
- Knowledge Management
- Architecture (IT, Solution, Infra, Software)
The list could probably be longer, but it’s more useful to distill it down to something concrete for our purposes.
In general, a simple way to look at ALM is this:
ALM is the marriage between software engineering and business management. Looking at it through this simplified lens gives us a clearer focus when it comes to evaluating the best ALM software—which is what I cover in the next section.
What Is ALM Software?
Unlike standalone software developing tools or agile planning tools which by and large serve the same purpose for anyone using it, ALM tools have to merge a number of disciplines under the same roof.
For that reason, ALM tools are generally sold as software suites with several modules or components. These can be integrated to provide a standardized environment that supports your organization through all of the phases of the software development lifecycle (from concept through deployment and eventual retirement), in addition to supplying business management and software engineering tools for the functions listed in the previous section.
The people using an ALM tool across an organization will be using it for very different purposes, performing different functions to achieve different goals. Because of this, it’s unlikely that you’ll find an ALM solution offering absolutely everything you need right out of the box. Even so, using an ALM software has many advantages, which I describe below.
What Are The Main Benefits Of ALM Software?
ALM tools serve many functions—here are some of the main benefits you can derive from implementing an ALM solution:
- Standardized environment for collaboration between departments, integrating new development tools with various management tools
- Automation and streamlining of the software dev process
- Enhanced clarity and simplicity for complex processes
- Improved software quality
- Reduction of costs
- Reduction of time to market
- Enhanced compliance audits (especially important for safety-critical industries)
Of course, to get these benefits, you have to make sure you’re choosing a tool that genuinely serves your use case, otherwise, you run the risk of it becoming a waste of money and space as “shelfware”. See below for criteria to help you choose the right tool.
Other ALM Tools List
I haven’t had time to fully review these, but if the featured software above doesn’t work for you, here a few more good ALM tools to check out:
- IBM CLM: Best for existing IBM users
- Digite SwiftEnterprise: Best for lean and agile teams
- Rocket Application Lifecycle Management: Best for built-in change management capabilities
- Intland codeBeamer: Best solutions for the automotive and aviation industries
- Kovair ALM Studio: Best for automating task workflows
- Polarion: Best for built-in test and issue management
- Rommana ALM: Best for traceability of requirements
- VisionFlow: Best combined project management & ALM
Need something a bit different altogether? You can also look into our handy lists of other specialized software solutions:
- requirements management tools
- bug-tracking tools
- project management software
- project management dashboards
- tools that specialize in collaboration
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Searching for an ALM?
Below, I outline the criteria I’ve used in selecting the best ALM tools on the market so you can easily compare tools based on the critical features that I believe any good ALM software should provide. Here are the features and functions that the best ALM software offers in order to support the entire application development life cycle:
How To Pick The Best ALM Tool
More so than most other tools, implementing an ALM software suite can involve a large investment of time and effort. There’s a lot of pressure to choose the right tool because virtually everyone within and around your organization will be using it to some degree.
Below, I simplify the process by providing a list of the important questions to ask during the selection process in order to choose the right ALM software for your use case.
I recommend that you attempt to answer as many of these questions as possible. Then, use them to create a list of requirements you have in an ALM tool, and rank them in terms of importance. When you start looking at tools, this will bring much more definition to your decision-making process.
Are you merging assets?
If you’ve undergone a merger (or multiple mergers), you’re tasked with the challenge of unifying disparate legacy systems and diverse approaches to ALM. You’re primarily concerned with consolidating your existing ALM processes and establishing a common framework for collaboration. In this scenario, tools with strong collaboration and integration capabilities should be at the top of your list. Look to industry heavy-hitters with solutions geared toward CLM (collaborative lifecycle management) like IBM Rational, Rally Project Management, Microsoft, and HP ALM.
Are you a startup?
Small organizations expecting or experiencing rapid growth require a different kind of ALM setup than a long-standing enterprise. Your ALM tool needs to provide an environment that can be quickly reconfigured—that can accommodate new levels of management and new departments.
You’re also probably heavily focused on Agile and/or continuous integration, so you’ll need a tool that’s designed to scale an agile enterprise and supports Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). In this use case, Collabnet VersionOne, Targetprocess, Micro Focus, and Atlassian are all strong contenders.
Do you need ALM software because you’re subject to regulation?
For organizations subject to regulatory authorities such as safety-critical or medical enterprises, compliance with standards is a main point to consider when choosing between ALM tools. In this case, you’ll want to prioritize tools with strong QMS (quality management systems) such as Orcanos. Likewise, look for tools with ample features for documentation management, FEMA risk assessment, and traceability that allows you to follow audit trails across projects.
Where are your most serious bottlenecks in the current process?
What are your licensing, hosting, and budget constraints?
To answer this critical question, it comes down to knowing your organization’s demographics. What’s your company size, location, technical infrastructure, geographic distribution, security policies, firewalls?
Some notes on hosting:
Most vendors offer a SaaS (cloud-hosted) version in addition to a licensed version. Knowing your technical infrastructure will tell you whether you’re able to host an on-premise version. On top of this, it will inform any decision to invest in a new server in order to host on-premise (you’ll need to factor in those server and hardware upgrades as part of your ALM total cost of ownership, of course).
Some notes on licensing:
Your ALM tool will only be effective if there are enough licenses for your users, if the type of available license fits your use case. For example, some providers offer either named licenses (for a designated user), floating licenses (multiple people can use at different times), or both. Likewise, keep in mind that some ALM software providers charge different amounts for onshore vs. offshore licenses.
Unfortunately, licensing and pricing for most ALM tools aren’t straightforward because most are designed as suites of separate modules—and certain modules or features can have different licensing and permissions than others.
The exceptions to this rule are Tuleap, Targetprocess, Inflectra SpiraTeam, and Azure DevOps, who’ve adopted more transparent pricing than most other vendors.
Some vendors also offer a sort of hybrid option as well, where you pay yearly to rent an annual license. This yearly fee typically includes any upgrades and support as well. This arguably carries less risk than buying a perpetual license and getting locked into paying separately for support and upgrades each year.
Are you already heavily invested in other tools?
In most cases, if you’re looking for an ALM, your teams have already used a handful of industry tools for quite some time. Determine whether you’re so heavily invested in a services vendor (SAP, Oracle, etc) that you should prioritize ALM tools that offer pre-built integrations with those services.
Which methodologies are you following?
Most ALM tools on this list can accommodate Waterfall, Agile, and hybrid methodologies—but some do specialize.
Here are some examples:
- ALM tools for agile teams: Check out Jira, CA Agile Central, Azure DevOps
- ALM tools for waterfall methodology: Check out Perforce Helix ALM, Orcanos
- ALM tools that support hybrid methodologies: Collabnet VersionOne, Micro Focus, Inflectra SpiraTeam, Tuleap
How soon do you need it? (a.k.a. implementation and learning curve)
A couple of factors contribute to how easy a solution is to learn and implement. Application managers should consider:
Cloud-based or on-premise?
Most ALM tools offer both options, but keep in mind that SaaS is quicker to implement than an on-premise solution. If you’re installing an on-premise solution, check to see whether the vendor helps speed the process with on-site consulting during roll-out.
Some ALM products are more intuitive than others. Frequently, CA Agile Central, Targetprocess, and Orcanos have been described as highly intuitive and easy to learn, while Perforce Helix ALM is reported to take a bit more time.
Availability of training and support?
If you predict your teams will require more in-depth support, look to software from Orcanos, Inflectra, Collabnet VersionOne, CA Agile Central, and Tuleap, who’ve all received praise for above-average training and support. Not to mention, you should peruse the resources that each vendor offers—implementing is bound to go faster with live training, tutorials, webinars, and a healthy resource library for your teams.
Especially if you’re already using a dozen different tools, the ALM software with the largest number of pre-existing integrations will speed your implementation.
Check for solutions like Azure DevOps, Jira, Targetprocess, Collabnet VersionOne, and Inflectra SpiraTeam, which offer the most pre-built integrations.
What Do You Think?
What software have you used for managing the application development life cycle? Share your insight with our community below.
For more on application lifecycle management, I’d point you toward The QA Lead—it’s an online community for QA folks, software engineers and testing professionals. There’s a great podcast that interviews leaders in the QA, DevOps, and software development space, plus lots of articles and how-to guides on the QA profession.
Here's a related podcast that's also worth checking out: How Solid Program Management Helps Organizations Scale