If we take a good look at software today, we can say that it is becoming significantly more prevalent in comparison to hardware in terms of aiding the product development process. This is particularly the case when it comes to technologically advanced industries, including ones such as aerospace, defence, automotive, and manufacturing of medical devices.
PLM (product lifecycle management) is the most common solution that various manufacturers turn to. It comes with many benefits, making the whole process faster and more efficient. However, PLM takes up software as just one of its aspects and has trouble dealing with more intricate development processes. To surpass this obstacle, one must look for a solution that integrates both PLM and ALM (application lifecycle management).
What this means is that the solution has to provide proper end-to-end management of both hardware and software. It comes with both opportunities and challenges. This is why, in this article, we are going to discuss how to properly integrate PLM and ALM into your project.
What are PLM and ALM?
PLM is all about properly managing the whole lifecycle of a product. This encompasses the whole path, starting with the initial concept, followed by construction and manufacturing, finally leading to service and disposal. The main purpose of a PLM system is to make it a lot easier and faster for businesses to create products for the global market. It consists of all the vital aspects i.e. the people, processes, data, and business systems. Its origin can be found in the automotive industry, but it has since spread to healthcare, defence, aerospace, medical services, energy, and process manufacturing.
So, where does ALM step in? ALM can be better described as a process rather than a product. To be more precise, it deals with how IT organizations come up with the setup and use the software during its entire lifecycle.
To put it simply, ALM mainly focuses on the development of the product, while PLM deals with how to properly bring it to the market.
Similarities between PLM and ALM
For starters, both PLM and ALM deal with requirements, test management, variant management, specification management, and workflow.
Furthermore, they encompass core and process disciplines. Connecting different components, as well as linking information to them is a matter of both systems.
Finally, they both use a wide variety of models.
Differences between PLM and ALM
ALM is more abstract, dealing with how the product is envisioned, implemented, and tested, while PLM focuses on more concrete aspects, particularly on the materials and production chain.
The focus of ALM is files; i.e. the whole process of how software is created. PLM deals with particular parts and their relationships with specific hardware parts.
Similarly, ALM is all about link types related to hierarchies between software items, while PLM focuses on the hierarchies of dependencies between hardware items. Also, ALM is more descriptive in comparison to the more quantitative nature of PLM.
The various stages of the product lifecycle
- Product development
Product development begins as soon as a business comes up with a fresh idea for a product. During this phase, investment is crucial and, logically, the sales are non-existent.
The introduction phase is all about bringing the product to the market. Since people are not familiar with the product at this point, the majority of resources are aimed at marketing, training the sellers, and setting up distribution channels.
The growth phase kicks in as soon as the product begins to sell at a significantly higher speed. At this point, people are truly getting to know your product, and the news is only spreading. Expanding traffic becomes extremely important at this point which is why everyone who knows their trade, such as SEO Brisbane based professionals, advise that you focus on search engine optimization and other methods of boosting market acceptance and profits.
When the sales reach their pinnacle, you have entered the maturity phase. This is when the demand for your product is the greatest and you will be facing your competition as it attempts to surpass you with alternatives.
Of course, sooner or later, the market will get saturated with the product and you will enter the decline phase. Even if your prices begin to grow, your sales will diminish. At this point, you must make the right decision about whether you are going to make some changes and keep selling the product or move on to another one.
Why are PLM and ALM so important?
A PLM system controls all elements of the product lifecycle. It makes it significantly easier to assess different aspects of creating a whole new product, making it more transparent and easier for you to improve on whatever is not working the way you intended. As a result, a company can shorten product development cycles and focus on new ventures.
ALM focuses on software development, creating a blueprint for all the practices that will be used as well as the tools that can make the whole process more efficient. Due to the complexity of the process, it streamlines everything to perfect the execution. Today, a great ALM tool makes it possible to form a professional and transparent relationship between a business and its IT.
How are PLM and ALM integrated?
The whole concept of seeing software and hardware development processes as non-separate entities is a somewhat recent one. It is only with the technological developments which had endued almost every existing product out there with “smart” properties” that the divide between these development processes have started to fade out.
Today, PLM does not just focus on authoring tools but includes process and data management. On the other hand, ALM evolved to strengthen authoring, configuration management, workflow, and so on. A business can no longer afford to run these processes separately because it can result in a lot of inconsistencies, higher risks, and poor quality control.
However, the integration of PLM and ALM still poses a challenge, and companies are constantly discovering better solutions. The most common approach lately is the so-called best-of-breed approach, where tested solutions are being used while integrations are formed manually so that inconsistencies are avoided.
Interestingly enough, the two popular gaming consoles, Xbox and Sony PlayStation are the global milestones of the best possible PLM-ALM integration as of yet.
One thing that we can certainly ascertain from all of this is that, when it comes to technology, the software has become one of the most important aspects that makes a difference when it comes to the complex products being created today.
What this means is that the PLM-ALM integration has an incredibly bright future ahead, as it is a necessity for every business to be able to properly develop and launch products, as well as meet the market’s ever-growing demands.
Currently, the best approach to integration is based on the ESB model. This makes everything significantly more scalable, that is why every business should follow in its steps.