For much of its history, enterprise software development was driven by companies willing to modernize their old ways of doing design, simulation, or manufacturing. Companies recognized that their processes could be improved by the power of computing, but were unaware of the best ways to do that. As a result, the trajectory of an application went something like this:
- Engineering wants to computerize some paper-based process or replace an existing computerized system
- Developers (either internal staff, outside consultants, or ISVs) spend the next several years and go over the original budget building the software
- In the meantime, needs have changed, so what’s finally delivered doesn’t match current requirements
- Steps 2 and 3 are repeated until the business and engineering gets tired of throwing money at the project
- Engineering lives with the result, occasionally bolting on additions and patches until the application collapses under its own weight
- Start over at Step 1
However, in the late 80s, smart software engineers realized that there is a better way to do things and came up with the idea of application lifecycle management (ALM).
Definition of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
Application lifecycle management is a framework for managing the lifecycle of an application, from initial idea through development, maintenance, and eventual retirement. It’s a much more organized way of guiding the career of a software application.
The definition application lifecycle management should not be confused with the software development lifecycle (SDLC). SDLC informs the way the actual coding is done, whereas ALM takes a bigger-picture view. An organization’s SDLC will come into play several times over the course of an ALM cycle.
An ALM framework definition varies from one organization to another, but most of them include the same basic application lifecycle stages:
- Application governance: Also known as requirements definition and design. This is the stage in which the scope of the solution (that is, the business problem to be solved) is described. From the scope definition, a high-level roadmap for the application can be sketched out, showing the evolution of the application as the business grows and support for additional business processes is added. The detailed requirements for the initial release of the application are elicited and documented, and the solution is designed. The design includes the technology stack and system architecture that will underpin the solution throughout its development lifecycle.
- Application development: In this stage, the SDLC is invoked and the actual coding is performed. ALM can work with any development framework - Waterfall, Agile, and DevOps frameworks all can be used within ALM. Software testing is also performed in this stage to verify that the requirements are met.
- Application maintenance: The work doesn’t stop when the application is deployed. In this stage, any bugs that were not caught in initial testing are identified and fixed, enhancements and new components are designed and built, and the underlying technology stack is kept up to date. As challenges evolve and differentiation or improvements are needed, the high-level roadmap is revisited and revised. Finally, when engineering outgrows the application or its functions are no longer needed, plans are made for an orderly transition to its replacement.
Why Application Development Lifecycle Management Is Important
Managing the software application life cycle creates a manageable workflow for software developers and improves the software development process. Some of the most important benefits of this process include:
- Shorter release cycles: Once the application maintenance stage is reached, releases can be planned, designed, built, tested, and released rapidly. Some companies have numerous small enhancement projects in the pipeline, and some, such as Amazon, release software updates on a daily or even more frequent basis.
- Better testing: Software testers often ask, “What is ALM in software testing”? Release cycles are made shorter thanks to real-time collaboration, which means fewer new features to test and less regression testing with each release, due to the organized implementation of features to be tested. Organized implementation helps isolate problems as they arise, reducing testing overlap.
- Better product management: Without ALM and the high-level roadmap to guide the application’s evolution, applications can suffer from bloat and scope creep. ALM provides a standard by which to measure any proposed changes.
- Better project management: ALM provides quality assurance and development teams with a predictable, repeatable framework for managing each development cycle as well as the overall, big-picture application project. It allows continuous innovation, improvements, and competitive differentiation.
How can Spatial help with ALM Services?
With our substantial expertise and experience in development and engineering of 3D Applications for mechanical and electronic design and analysis, metrology, CAM, robotics, and additive manufacturing, Spatial is well equipped to be your solution advisor.
We have designed professional services to provide our customers with options to fit your business, enhance your product, and help overcome some of the technical challenges associated with SDLC and ALM.
Spatial defines ALM as the natural progression from product design and development all the way to planning your next generation products. We use this cycle to guide the development of our services in order to assist in achieving your goals, such as transforming your product to best meet market demands.
ALM In Your Organization
At an early stage of an organization’s development, the “just build something and get it out there” approach to software development becomes unsustainable. In order to provide customers with robust, reliable software that meets their needs and performs well, the development team must adopt some form of application lifecycle management in the development process.
Spatial is available to help you make the journey to an ALM model of application development. If your organization hasn’t done so yet, now is the time. The experts at Spatial can provide application lifecycle services that are right for your business.
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