For Monday’s Innovate conference, IBM identified what it believes are five key things companies need to do in order to become innovative with their products and software development cycles. Mike O’Rourke, vice president of Rational strategy and software delivery, said these five things, along with the IBM developer communities, will help companies and universities learn to innovate.

Real-time Planning
O’Rourke said teams need to link product releases and changes to updates, and he explained how the updates to IBM’s products (also announced at the conference) allow for this concept to be executed. IBM added an enhanced set of capabilities around the application life-cycle management tools, including Rational and Team Concert.

“These include customizable templates,” O’Rourke said, adding that these templates allow companies to enact agile processes across tools and teams.

Life-cycle Traceability
O’Rourke explained that this is important, particularly in regulated industries, to ensure that each member of the development team has access to all the steps of the process, from requirements to deployment.

This portion of the initiatives refers to ensuring that all portions of the life cycle—changes, bug fixes, requirements—are catalogued from start to finish and can be reviewed at the end of the product to ensure that a product has been accurately delivered.

Active In-context Collaboration
Collaboration items have to be stored with requirements, O’Rourke said. Collaboration items include conversations about the requirements, feedback from stakeholders, and other updates to the requirements documents that are made after the requirements-gathering stage. The IBM requirements management tools now include a plug-in for the Jazz platform to allow developers to use social-media-inspired collaboration systems (similar to Facebook walls or Twitter feeds) to discuss changes that should be made to the requirements or product as the development process evolves.

Continuous Process Improvement
The IBM product updates include support for scrum and kanban, so agile methodology adoption is enforced and enacted in specific teams, O’Rourke said. He added that these updates help keep teams entrenched in new methods.

O’Rourke said gathering the right metrics from teams is an important part of a smooth development cycle, including time to market, productivity numbers and tracking fixes and changes to the product.

He added that all of these ideas need to be extended to software architects in order to create a collaborative design management environment.

“Make sure fixes aren’t breaking other areas. Take a look at reviewing and analyzing the process. This speeds up the process and does a better job around fostering design review,” O’Rourke said.