PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) as a concept was introduced in 1985 and was first implemented in the aviation and automotive manufacturing industries. With its application, it brought a whole new revolution in these industries and made the process of manufacturing heavy-duty aircraft and automobiles quite manageable. now PLM is no longer confined to aviation and automotive manufacturing industries, it finds its application in approximately every field one can think of.
It deals with the product lifecycle starting from the initial stage of pitching the idea than developing, producing to finally dispensing it to the customers. The primary goal of PLM is to efficiently encompass all the phases of a product involved and coordinate people associated with the product.
ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) is a different concept from PLM which deals with 3 aspects of a software lifecycle i.e. Governance, Development and Management. ALM has several SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) that are used as a hybrid form.
The differences between PLM and ALM
- Where PLM deals with more tangible components like tools, workers, material cost, etc.; ALM in contrast to PLM deals with majorly intangible assets or properties like requirements, test cases, issues, etc.
- The focus of ALM is towards the effectiveness and efficiency of delivering working components whereas the focus of PLM is more inclined towards products ranging in the bill of materials and product configuration in the chain.
- The core building blocks of ALM are code files, test cases, defects, etc. whereas in PLM these blocks are hardware parts and recently the electronic hardware embedded inside most of the modern systems.
PLM and ALM integrated for holistic development
Earlier ALM and PLM were running separately but with product innovation and technology augmentation both ALM and PLM got together. we know that industries of manufacturing, production, etc. cannot efficiently run without software intervention. Since hardware devices have started running on codes complexity has increased at an exponential level. The lifecycles which were totally isolated have now been interconnected and to manage such an intertwined lifecycle a modern approach is required.
This integration is important for amazing end-user experiences. The best example for PLM and ALM integration is gaming console like Sony PlayStation in which PLM deals with the hardware that smoothly interfaces with multiple power resources like televisions or mobiles and the ALM deals with advanced software like Corona that helps in interfacing.
The potential challenges in ALM and PLM integration
Though ALM and PLM integration poses great potential to change the picture of the development lifecycle of a real-time product, it comes with many challenges that need to overcome before its implementation. The main problem arises while developing such a standard approach that integrates hardware and software co-development tools, data and processes simultaneously sticking to the ground rules and standards. And this integration should not only be in the concept; all the devices associated, and domains should equally collaborate.
- To get a true collaborative environment
This is the major concern because in order to cultivate such a collaborative environment becomes a tedious task. An equal impact across various domains starting from features, Bill of Material, test cases, requests and accessing the information from each department throughout the development lifecycle is tough. It’s not as easy it seems to link hardware and software requirements to the physical design of the product and how these changes might impact the actual requirements.
- Challenges to bring ALM into the framework of PLM
The core differences between PLM and ALM makes it more difficult to bring integration into action. Where PLM consists of longer and slower moving cycles of components of PLM contrasts to the shorter and faster-updated cycles of ALM. Is it even possible to integrate both with the conventional work processes? The main challenge is to bring ALM into the framework of PLM. These disconnects between PLM and ALM makes it derogatory in terms of costs that may incur due to reworks and delays. Not only this, but these disconnects can also delay or even prevent opportunities for innovation.
- Experiences of engineers by the integration of ALM and PLM
The engineers involved in the product development lifecycle find it overwhelming and enforcing when they have to migrate to PLM or ALM workflows. They find it irrelevant when they must deal with extraneous details at the time when they are more comfortable with the immediate and ready to apply concepts in the workflow.
Therefore, ALM and PLM integration may be quintessential for your product and software development, but the path is not a piece of cake. There are rough twists and turns but once the journey has successfully complemented; your product might shine and so will your company’s fortune.