Improve portfolio management with new IBM Rational Focal Point integrations

Advantages and capabilities of Rational Focal Point integrations with the Collaborative Lifecycle Management applications for requirements and change management

IBM Rational Focal Point version 6.5.1 offers new Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) integrations with capabilities for more effective portfolio management and decision-making throughout project lifecycles, products in development, and applications that you use in your organization. This article covers what, why, and how to take advantage of these integrations.

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Karthikeyan Dakshinamurthy (kdakshin@in.ibm.com), Senior Software Engineer, I.B.M.

author photoKarthikeyan Dakshinamurthy is the integration architect for the Rational Focal Point development team in Bangalore, India. He has led the design and development efforts for Rational Focal Point integrations with Rational Collaborative Lifecycle Management applications. His diverse background and broad experience includes working in IT as a developer, team lead, and software architect for a variety of IBM Rational products.


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31 January 2012

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Advantages of integrating portfolio management resources

Strategic decision-making is one of the key activities of portfolio management. Project proposals and business needs are captured and prioritized as part of that decision-making. After decisions are made, the approved business needs and project proposals are published and linked to requirement and project management systems for elaboration on requirements, project planning, development and delivery. This integration of portfolio management resources with project and requirement management resources offers the following key benefits:

  • Project development goals and teams are seamlessly aligned with business strategies and priorities (doing the right thing).
  • Key project development performance indicators are fed back to portfolio decision-making process for continuous monitoring and course correction (doing the things right).
  • Clear lifecycle traceability between strategy and development creates more flexibility for portfolio managers and strategists to respond to changes.
Figure 1. Business objective-driven portfolio, development, and delivery
Workflow diagram as pyramid structure

The important thing to note here is that the decoupled portfolio and project and requirement management layer increases the flexibility and the ability to manage the changes effectively, so that it can be aligned with business objectives through lifecycle traceability.


Where Rational Focal Point helps

IBM® Rational® Focal Point™ software helps IT teams manage portfolios of projects, applications, and products by providing insights into performance, return on investment, and risk:benefit ratio. The software's enhanced capabilities and visualization options help you capture market inputs, business needs, demands, and customer feedbacks in one place and prioritize them according to alignment with your organization's business objectives. You can also use it to define release or project proposals, to scope them in terms of high-level stakeholder requests (business needs), and in prioritizing the scoped proposals for implementation. Business needs in Rational Focal Point are usually high-level descriptions of what must be elaborated as detailed requirements before the development process starts. After project proposals and business needs are prioritized and approved, integrating with the CLM applications helps you to reach the following necessary steps toward development and delivery:

  1. Approved business needs can be elaborated as detailed requirements and managed for the development process.
  2. Approved project or release proposals can be published as development plans and work breakdown structure, along with initial estimates entered into project management system.
  3. Progress of published projects can be measured and fed back to strategic decision-making process for status monitoring and course correction.

Integrations available in version 6.5.1

IBM® Rational® Focal Point™ version 6.5.1 offers new Open Services Lifecycle Collaboration-based integration with IBM® Rational® Requirements Composer, as well as key enhancements to the existing OSLC-based IBM® Rational Team Concert™ integration. These integrations enable effective end-to-end lifecycle management and traceability across portfolio management resources, such as projects and business needs, and creation of artifacts such as requirements, project plans, and work items. They also give you the capability of feeding back key progress measures from the development environment to the strategic decision-making process for portfolio management.

This article provides an overview of how to use various integration capabilities of Rational Focal Point for portfolio management and strategic decision-making. It includes using Rational Focal Point with Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management, or CLM, which includes Rational Requirements Composer and Rational Team Concert.


Typical scenarios for use

The following are the typical ways to use the Rational Focal Point-CLM integration. These scenarios can help in understanding how you can create and customize a model for effective portfolio management that traces the entire lifecycles of projects, product development, and applications that your organization uses.

Tip:
You can configure the integration for suitable subsets of these scenarios, too.

  1. Product manager captures high-level stakeholder requests, also known as business needs, in Rational Focal Point
  2. Steering committee prioritizes those captured business needs in Rational Focal Point according to criteria such as business objectives, costs, benefits, risks, and so forth.
  3. Product manager defines the high-level release or project proposals by allocating prioritized business needs to release or project proposals.
  4. Steering committee prioritizes release or project proposals and chooses candidates for development and delivery.
  5. Product or release manager publishes prioritized business needs from Rational Focal Point (individual or group) into Rational Requirements Composer as new requirements.
  6. Business analyst elaborates on the published requirements with detailed specifications, using Rational Requirements Composer.
  7. Product or release manager links any existing elaborated requirement in Rational Requirements Composer to a business need in Rational Focal Point, for traceability.
  8. Testers or developers create links between elaborated requirements and other lifecycle artifacts, such as test cases and work items for full lifecycle traceability.
  9. Portfolio managers monitor project development progress and use key performance indicators for reprioritization and course correction.
  10. Release manager generates lifecycle tractability reports that span various domains and resources (product-portfolio management, requirements management, change management, and quality management, for example).

Integration overview

Rational Focal Point-CLM application integrations are Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC)-based. Architecturally, Linked Data technology has been followed for linking resources across applications. Current integration architecture does not copy resources across systems; therefore, there is no periodic synchronization required when values are changed to the linked resource. In this integration, Rational Focal Point is an OSLC consumer, using OSLC change management (CM) services provided by Rational Team Concert and OSLC requirements management (RM) services provided by Rational Requirements Composer. Creation factories, delegated user interfaces, and rich hovering are the OSLC services provided by Rational Team Concert and Rational Requirements Composer and used by Rational Focal Point.

Figure 2. Integration overview
Diagram of OSLC-based Focal Point-CLM integration

Starting with version 651, Rational Focal Point is also an OSLC Core provider, providing rich hovering of Rational Focal Point elements from CLM applications (Rational Requirements Composer, Rational Team Concert, and Rational Quality Manager).


Capabilities

The integration capabilities listed in this section are suitable for both Rational Requirements Composer and Rational Team Concert integrations with Rational Focal Point.

Configuration (prerequisites)

The following configuration steps are required before using the integration.

Register applications
Rational Focal Point and the CLM applications (Rational Requirements Composer, Rational Team Concert or Rational Quality Manager) need to be registered to each other as providers, called "friends," and as "consumers."

  1. Register Rational Focal Point as an OSLC consumer:
    1. Follow the link in Resources to "Registering Rational Focal Point as an inbound consumer in a CLM application" for detailed steps on how to set up Rational Focal Point to use OSLC services provided by the CLM applications.
    2. Follow the link in Resources to "Connecting to the Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management application server" for detailed steps on how to register a CLM application as a provider (friend) in Rational Focal Point.
  2. Register Rational Focal Point as an OSLC Core Provider (required only for previewing Rational Focal Point elements.)
    1. Follow the link to "Registering Rational Focal Point as an outbound friend in a CLM application" (see Resources) or how to register Rational Focal Point as provider (friend) in a CLM application (Rational Requirements Composer or Rational Team Concert) so that the CLM applications can use the OSLC rich-hovering services provided by Rational Focal Point.
    2. Follow the link in Resources to "Configuring consumer authentication for a CLM application in Rational Focal Point" for the steps to configure a CLM application to so that it can preview Rational Focal Point elements, with or without Rational Focal Point authentication.
Figure 3. Register Rational Focal Point as a Rational Requirements Composer consumer
Rational Requirements Composer registration page
Figure 4. Rational Focal Point page for registering Rational Requirements Composer as a friend
Admin page to register CLM applications as friends

Configure CALM Link attributes

Rational Focal Point uses a special type of attribute called a CALM Link for storing the links to CLM application resources, including Rational Requirements Composer requirements or Rational Team Concert work items. CALM Link attributes need to be created and configured for a Rational Focal Point module to establish linking. For example, the Rational Focal Point Business Needs module might have a CLM Link attribute created and configured for storing Rational Requirements Composer resources.

Follow this link in Resources for how to create and configure a CALM Link attribute to a module in Rational Focal Point: "Adding and configuring attributes for storing links to artifacts in the Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management applications."

Figure 5. Configuring a CALM link attribute in Rational Focal Point
Configure linking to CLM application resources

Configure View commands (optional)
You can create or delete Rational Focal Point elements' links to CLM application resource for groups of Rational Focal Point elements with a single user update, rather than having to create the links for each element. For that purpose, you need to create a View command and configure a view. Separate View commands need to be created and configured for supported operation, such as creating links, deleting links, and restoring the deleted links. Follow this link in Resources for instructions: "Adding view commands for bulk operations on artifacts in Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management applications."

Figure 6. Configuring a View command
Configuring for bulk link management operations

Configure a Preview view (optional)

With Rational Focal Point 6.5.1, a new module configuration attribute, Preview View, is included that you can assign to any view of the module. The attributes defined in the view will be shown while previewing the elements from CLM application by using the hovering feature. Setting None for the attribute (see Figure 7) prevents any CLM application from previewing elements that belong to the module.

Figure 7. Configuring Preview view to enable rich hovering for Rational Focal Point elements
Configuring a module to set a view as Preview view

Link management

As mentioned earlier, this integration is based on Linked Data technology. In other words, the links created between Rational Focal Point and CLM application resources are a key part of this integration. The diagram in Figure 8 shows various Focal Point and CLM application resources and their relationships, using links. Notice that the links between Focal Point and CLM application resources are many-to-many relationships.

Figure 8. Resources and relationships
Relationships of Focal Point and CLM resources

Linking single element (single linking)

These integrations enable creating links, one by one, from a Rational Focal Point element to one in a CLM resource, either by creating a new CLM application resource or by selecting one or more CLM application resources.

Figure 9 shows creating a new CLM resource and linking to a Rational Focal Point element from the Focal Point web UI.

Figure 9. Creating and linking a Rational Requirements Composer requirement
Requirement Creation dialog window

Larger view of Figure 9.

Linking a collection of elements (bulk linking)

Rational Focal Point also supports creating a collection of CLM application resources and linking them with Focal Point elements that are included in the scope of an approved project or release proposal. For example, this could be a collection of Rational Requirements Composer requirements created for business needs that are allocated to an approved project proposal in Focal Point.

Figure 10. Creating and linking a collection of Rational Requirements Composer requirements
Select elements to publish dialog window

Larger view of Figure 10.

Note:
In addition to the creation of links, deletion or recovery of deleted links are both supported through the integration.

Previewing linked resources

You can hover your cursor over linked Rational Focal Point elements to preview them from any CLM application's web UI. Similarly, you can preview any linked CLM application resource by hovering your cursor over the link in the Focal Point web UI. The following three screen captures show examples of both types of previews.

Figure 11. Previewing a Rational Requirements Composer requirement from the Rational Focal Point web UI
Screen segment superimposed over larger screen

Larger view of Figure 11.

Figure 12. Previewing a Rational Focal Point business need from Rational Requirements Composer
Screen segment preview of a linked business need

Larger view of Figure 12.

Figure 13. Previewing a Rational Focal Point business need from the Rational Requirements Composer traceability view
Preview from the View All Artifacts display

Larger view of Figure 13.

Querying for information from a linked resource

At times, a few key values of the linked CLM resources (such as priority, status, or progress) are required to be fetched and shown inside of the linked Rational Focal Point element's view. This capability enables monitoring, tracking, and filtering of Rational Focal Point elements based on key progress values of linked CLM resources. XPathValueFetcher() business rules can be used to achieve this.

Tip:
Follow the link in Resources to "Fetching information from the CLM application" for detailed steps on how to use XPathValueFetcher().


Traceability reports

Traceability reports are one of the key artifacts in collaborative end-to-end lifecycle management. These reports on linked portfolio and development artifacts can be used to report overall end-to-end health of the projects.

For example, a Release Readiness report could show the list of business needs, their related requirements, their related work items or defect records, along with their states. This report will convey the overall state of all of the linked resources, including those that answer the following questions:

  • How many business needs are elaborated?
  • Of the elaborated requirements, how many of the requirements are implemented? (This is done by referring to the status of the linked work item.)
  • What is the quality of each business need's implementation? (This is determined by tracing to defects through requirements that are linked to business needs.)

Following are the three traceability reports that are included with Version 6.5.1 that can be run from within Rational Focal Point. You can customize these reports to suit your needs by using IBM® Rational® Publishing Engine Document Studio, just by following the links to these reports:

Statement of Compliance Report
Provides traceability from projects to business needs to requirements

Statement of Verification Report

Provides traceability from projects to business needs to requirements to test cases to test execution records to test results to defects

Release Readiness Report
Provides traceability from projects to business needs to requirements to defects

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