Retiring legacy ALM with Atlassian and Zephyr
Great user experiences, high reliability, fast functionality upgrades. These are just some of the expectations that today’s software applications have to meet. Failing to meet customer needs quickly can impact the business bottom line.
This means that modern application lifecycle management processes must produce software and functionality upgrades faster than ever before, whilst maintaining quality and customer satisfaction.
Work patterns are changing too – staff are often distributed globally, and work is outsourced to third parties.
Mastering this digital supply chain is crucial for teams that define, build, test, deliver and support software.
Coupled with Zephyr, the Atlassian suite of products can help teams to solve these challenges, in an environment which supports autonomy with visibility.
The Atlassian web-based platform delivers rich functionality, a common UI language and open APIs. Powerful, customizable workflows mean that individual teams and companies can choose the method of working that best suits production, while rich, customizable dashboards, reports and the collaborative features built into Atlassian and Zephyr products provide visibility across distributed enterprise projects.
To summarize: Atlassian and Zephyr products enable development teams to deliver their best.
Zephyr's mission is to build real-time test management products which support software quality initiatives that serve customers around the globe, allowing them to be more responsive and make better, faster, decisions.
Zephyr's two key products - ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE and ZEPHYR FOR JIRA together manage all aspects of software development to ensure software quality. ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE is a full featured enterprise test management system with deep JIRA and test tool integrations, including test automation and dedicated test dashboards. ZEPHYR FOR JIRA is a JIRA Add-On that brings basic test management capabilities directly inside of JIRA. The two products work together to provide companies with options in choosing solutions that meet their testing requirements.
JIRA and Zephyr integrate seamlessly with other Atlassian's products, creating a full featured Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform that enables enterprises of all sizes to deliver technology projects, thereby covering the whole ALM process from inception to retirement.
Deep, out-of-the-box integration with JIRA means that customers can manage their ALM process using Atlassian's powerful, familiar technology, which is often readily available to users across the enterprise, reducing on-boarding, and improving productivity.
Usability and Integrations
Both Atlassian and Zephyr have years of experience in developing carefully designed products that provide a streamlined, rich user experience, which user feedback can verify. Atlassian products have a design language that creates a unified, consistent experience for users, and is available in any modern web browser, allowing simple deployment across the enterprise. In many organizations, Atlassian products are already in use, making it easy for users to adopt Atlassian as an ALM platform.
Both Atlassian and Zephyr products support open standards of integration via REST APIs, allowing both platforms to cooperate with other systems and processes within your enterprise. Information can be imported and exported directly from test cases with results that support automation and reporting scenarios. Furthermore, integrations provide out-of-the-box support to third party solutions such as Jenkins and GitHub.
ZEPHYR FOR JIRA is fully integrated inside JIRA itself, and the ZAPI component allows users to access the ZEPHYR FOR JIRA repository directly via REST calls. ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE test management provides users with a fully standalone test environment with requirements and defect tracking. When using ZAPI as part of an integrated JIRA based ALM solution, both requirements and defect data can be mastered in JIRA, giving users the best of both worlds - a fully featured test solution with requirements and defects managed alongside all other work items.
Management and Visualization
It is essential to define, plan, forecast, collaborate, adapt to changing situations, and visualize team activities so that everyone is on the same page. Ensuring that your team is aligned, and understands what needs to be done in order to deliver quality product is a major challenge. Failing to manage these complex and interconnected details is a key source of problems within projects.
JIRA makes it easy to see and manage assignments, get change alerts, track work and view progress. Zephyr's products build on these same capabilities so that testing can be managed at scale.
Multi-project management with Portfolio
When you have multiple JIRA projects, you need to plan and forecast with confidence. Portfolio for JIRA uses live data from JIRA projects that are being updated by teams, allowing managers to visualize the progress of multiple projects towards key milestones. Realistic forecasts can be created, based on real-world data, and what-if analysis allows managers to experiment, perform, and understand the impacts of planning.
Dashboards and reports
There is a rich selection of customizable dashboards and reports, which cover the entire development process, ranging from development progress to Service Level Agreement (SLA) production issue reports. ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE provides specialized real time dashboards, providing complete visibility into every aspect of the testing process. JIRA Software provides customizable Agile planning and execution dashboards, and extensive reporting, both of which are supported by email alerts and the ability to "watch" items of interest. ZEPHYR FOR JIRA provides built in reports and dashboard gadgets, so that customers can create relevant, timely, test management reports directly inside JIRA.
JIRA supports powerful, customizable workflows, ensuring that teams are correctly guided through processes. The workflows are visualized for clarity and steps in the workflow such as “To do”, or “Waiting for QA” translate right through to columns in configurable Kanban and Scrum boards.
Business rules such as management gate checks, quality tests and information validation can be baked into your processes and, if required, tailored for individual teams. For example, a small team that is developing a prototype in a rapid, agile environment will require a different process than a team that is extending an existing mission critical software product.
Development workflow support
Clear, unambiguous requirements are prime foundations for timely software delivery. Understanding exactly what is to be built and why, and aligning stakeholders to these goals, is critical. In order to break down work into smaller, structured requirements which can be implemented and tested, senior stakeholders need to understand whether the project is aligning with their vision, and developers need to understand business goals. Rather than create long email threads or large quantities of versioned documents on a file system, Confluence allows users to create documentation on which collaboration can occur in one place, from directly within a browser. Users receive change alerts or are alerted when comments use their name, with everyone able to see the final results.
Confluence has two-way integration with JIRA, allowing live requirements documentation to be linked directly to work items that developers are implementing. As your plan is fleshed out into specific requirements, you can keep stakeholders up to date with relevant progress reports which are integrated directly into your requirements document.
Sophisticated permissions mean that only relevant people can view documentation, yet teams around the globe are all reading from the same page.
JIRA supports function planning and execution. Agile boards allow developers to plan and execute their work, while extensible issue types allow different functionalities to be managed together. Requirements and defects can all be managed in the same location. With ZEPHYR FOR JIRA, test cases and test executions are all managed from within JIRA. ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE allows that sophisticated test plans be created with full traceability reporting, keeping requirements and defect data mastered in JIRA.
Even better, JIRA's rich integrations mean that requirements can be linked to the actual relevant code in source control, ensuring accountability, and an understanding of what has been implemented and when.
When breaking down Confluence documentation into Stories (requirements to be implemented), the granularity of the stories should be sufficiently small to be estimated in a manageable way, and to ideally encompass increments of understandable, testable code.
JIRA Versions allow everyone to be kept on the same page about what is meant to be released. Requirements, defects and tests can all be associated with a Version, which is scheduled to be released on a particular date. It is easy to see what is meant to go into release status, and features can be moved between versions to relieve pressure, or to accommodate changing priorities. Tests can also be executed against Versions to assure quality on a version-by-version basis.
Finally, the planning and estimation features work around what you need. If your team churns, or deals with a number of small work increments, you can use dates and times for estimating and tracking. If your team is stable, you may want to choose story points and relative estimation to understand your capacity and workload.
Developers need access to information to ensure that they are developing the correct functionality. With JIRA and Confluence, developers can view the current story, and the relevant requirements documentation, including the collaborative trail, giving full visibility of the overall context and how the story fits in with project progression and objectives. Progress can be quickly identified, by glancing at the built in Scrum and Agile boards which support sprints, or simply view works in progress.
JIRA is integrated with Bitbucket for flexible, powerful source control. Branches can be created directly from within JIRA, ensuring clear and consistent naming, and coding within source control, which can be linked back to the JIRA story for full traceability. Teams can have a very open workflow, or peer code reviews can be mandated before code is allowed into the main development branch, ensuring that "eyes-on" review takes place. Bitbucket extends the collaboration concept into code itself - commits can be seen via a rich web client, for full traceability.
Continuous Integration using Bamboo (on premise) or Bitbucket Pipelines (cloud) ensures that new code is compiling and passing automated unit tests. Teams can find problems early, increasing their productivity. Release processes can be included to avoid manual process errors. Jenkins, a popular open source CI server, can also be used.
Test cases and test execution management are key to achieving effective testing and deploying high quality software.
ZEPHYR FOR JIRA brings test management directly inside JIRA, including test cases, test execution management, reporting and dashboards. To provide management with a comprehensive view of both automated and manual testing, the ZAPI component allows that test results from Bamboo or Jenkins be integrated alongside manual test results. The ZAPI component also provides REST API access, allowing open integration.
ZEPHYR ENTERPRISE provides a fully featured test management suite, with full requirements traceability, test case version control, and test automation via ZBots, which can be scaled up to meet challenges within the largest organizations. Dedicated, real-time test report dashboards provide entire visibility into the testing process. Full JIRA integration means that requirements and defects can be managed from JIRA, and can be fully integrated into the overall development workflow, while test case management and execution scheduling can all be controlled within Zephyr Enterprise, giving users a powerful, integrated solution.
Once a solution is live, it needs to be supported. Developers and operational staff need to collaborate to maximize efficiency, and keep customers happy. JIRA Service Desk is ITIL-Certified, which allows users to log tickets via a web interface, via email, or via its open standards interface for integration with other systems. SLA reports enable managers to check that customers are being supported as required, and that service desk tickets can be directly linked to JIRA software issues, ensuring that relevant information is viewed by all developers and support staff through a clear and consistent interface.
Developing software in today’s environment is more challenging than ever. Being able to build high quality software efficiently can literally be the difference between success and failure. Yet, the bar for functionality and user experience is higher than it has ever been, and staff are often distributed across locations. Without effective collaboration, there is no delivery team, but instead a set of individuals.
Zephyr’s technology in conjunction with the Atlassian technology stack can make this a reality. Collaboration runs throughout the Atlassian product stack, whether this is allowing business and development staff to collaborate over a new requirements document, or letting developers see their colleague’s code that was actually committed and built for a particular story, or giving managers the information they need to see whether a software release will happen on time, Atlassian technology delivers. Complementing this, Zephyr’s technology helps teams ensure that the products they are writing are of high quality. Manual and automated test results can be seen together, allowing product quality to be understood at a glance, and giving team members confidence in the software they are releasing.
If you would like to understand how the Atlassian product stack and Zephyr’s technologies can be used together to deliver high quality software efficiently and quickly, get in touch with BDQ for a free customized demo or consultation.
Chris has been in the software industry for over 20 years, and understands the full lifecycle of the software business, working from initial concept to delivered product, providing business value to global partners and some of the largest companies in the UK. He is always interested in how cutting edge technologies can be used in combination with established approaches to solve business problems.
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