The benefits of Application Lifecycle Management for complex software product development

The benefits of Application Lifecycle Management for complex software product development

Products today have never been so complex, and the software is increasingly driving this complexity, and that ratio is increasing over time. Companies must have control of their software to meet the customer and stakeholder demands in the whole product development process. Unlike hardware, where the product may remain constant, the software can be updated more frequently, and this needs careful management.

This is all taking place in a market with accelerated time to market. Within this landscape, companies must reduce the risk in product development. Another aspect is improving collaboration between different cross-functional units, both within and outside the company. This is particularly relevant when much of the innovation can live within the extended supply chain. The benefits of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in managing this are increasingly being recognized.

In the latest PTC Talks webinar Mats Asplund, Sales and Accounts Manager PTC Nordic explained why we need Application Lifecycle Management and how PTC’s new ALM product Codebeamer fits within the PTC digital thread for product development. He explained that customer challenges could be separated into three main strands. First, there is scalable, agile development that is tied to customer and regulatory needs. Secondly, it is about achieving software-driven product innovation and, finally, a platform for continuous integration and deployment.

Facilitating an agile approach

Achieving this requires an agile and scalable development environment. Agility has long been considered an essential attribute of the manufacturing industry. It ensures that organizations can listen to their customers and respond to them, turning speed and agility into a critical competitive advantage. A company that adopts agile practices is in a much better position to take advantage of short windows of opportunity and fast changes in customer demand.

To be agile in business is to be able to react to the unexpected, to be able to adapt to a changing market environment and respond to consumer needs quickly. While these qualities are valuable in all walks of business life, they have gained particular importance as software, and product development have evolved.

Historically, when those agile approaches, such as scrum, started, it was a very flat layer, and part of the original agile approach was not to use tooling. But with the advent of ALM development tools, that has changed, and the advantages of an ALM product can now effectively be applied to agile product development.

Software-driven innovation and deployment

With software becoming an increasingly important part of the product and the product innovation process, it becomes even more crucial to maximize its potential benefits. We have seen figures proclaim that more than 90 percent of the innovations are related to the software of the product in some way, so it is critical to have that innovation mindset.

When you look at continuous integration and deployment, it is about facilitating DevOps and other release management capabilities in what is a challenging landscape. But that is just the beginning; there are additional daily operational challenges that we need to meet as well. For example, many companies today use Excel, Word, or email to keep track of their requirements; when you manage such a complex environment with manual processes and without automation, it is difficult to track the dependencies of different specifications and requirements.

Within the information flow, if you lack end-to-end traceability, it is difficult for the teams to specify, define, and verify the different aspects of the product. In addition, when it comes to regulatory requirements, if you have a lot of manual actions required, it will slow down the time to market, which is a critical competitive edge. It also complicates collaboration, for without a centrally managed process, teams tend to work in silos, making it difficult for the different departments to work in a cross-functional way and have clear visibility of the latest version and the baseline.

ALM is about making better products and making them faster. It is from requirements to the validation of these requirements; it is the total lifecycle of all the applications and the software in the products. ALM is like PLM, but for the software in the product. ALM drives the functional behavior of the product, and it also drives the innovation of the product. It is also an essential part of what we call the digital thread.

Adding to the digital thread

Earlier this year, PTC acquired Intland Software and its Codebeamer ALM suite, significantly broadening and deepening its ALM footprint. The company already has a broad portfolio of offerings, everything from CAD with Creo and Onshape to PLM with Windchill and Arena, an IoT platform in ThingWorx, and augmented reality with Vuforia.

Codebeamer is a flexible, easy-to-use, modern platform that provides users with requirements, risk, and test management capabilities in advanced engineering industries. Supporting the adoption of agile software management strategies and integrating with best-in-class DevOps and source code management tools, Codebeamer is a future-proof solution used by leading product developers worldwide. In addition, Codebeamer is the go-to ALM tool in various regulated industries, with preconfigured templates and partner integrations for safety-critical innovation.