What is application lifecycle management (ALM)?

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the strategic process of managing a software or product lifecycle from initial idea through design, development, testing, deployment, and end of life. ALM enables software engineering teams to efficiently collaborate on projects using proven Agile practices and trusted, up-to-date information. It is a foundational discipline for successful products, teams, and companies.

Why is ALM important?

Application lifecycle management helps teams manage the inherent complexity of modern software development. Today, product value is increasingly delivered through software. For example, the average automobile is composed of microprocessors running over 100 million lines of code. ALM connects people, processes, and tools to align teams around common goals, speed software delivery, and simplify regulatory compliance.

The benefits of application lifecycle management
Key areas of ALM
Governance Establish a transparent, well-documented governance framework for software development. ALM enables organizations to establish transparent processes for decision-making and improve oversight and accountability of projects and software systems.
Application Development Navigate the inherent complexity of modern, Agile software development. Today's software engineers are vastly more productive than their predecessors of even a few years ago. This remarkable efficiency is delivered in the context of added complexity. By providing a single source of truth and end-to-end traceability for software development, covering requirements management, test management and project management, ALM makes modern software development possible.
Maintenance It's estimated that maintenance consumes 40-70% of the costs of the software lifecycle. Ongoing software maintenance is necessary to fix errors, maintain competitive parity, and respond to evolving customer needs. Application lifecycle management enables teams to efficiently track and manage changes and scheduled product releases over the lifetime of the product, enabling organizations to fulfill the promise of their product long after initial deployment.
The application lifecycle management framework ALM stages vary from organization to organization, but typically include the following:

Stakeholders analyze the problem and define the high-level scope of the solution. Over many iterations, requirements are refined and detailed.

Software architects and design engineers iteratively define the structure of the solution, identifying solution components, behavior, and relationships.
Software engineering teams composed of analysts, designers, developers, testers, and leaders work collaboratively to develop successive versions of the software.
Everyone is responsible for quality. QA and risk management are part of every iteration, using tests that ensure the delivered software meets the original needs.
This phase covers the tasks of preparing, installing, and operationalizing software deliveries.
Once released, support teams capture enhancements requests and defects. New releases provide an opportunity to fix errors and make software updates.
Key ALM capabilities

Excellence in application lifecycle management requires mastery of the following:

Requirements Management—Gather market insights and business needs to direct software engineering and align team members around a common vision. Software Development—Collaborate and automate to rapidly build quality software. Quality Assurance and Testing—Validate and verify results at each lifecycle stage to improve outcomes and reduce cost of quality. Agile Project Management—Adopt software engineering best practices that prioritize flexibility, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
DevOps—Create efficient, repeatable processes for successfully deploying and operating software. Plan and monitor software releases. Risk Management—Identify, analyze, and mitigate internal and external threats by focusing on the most important subjects. Software Design—Collaborate across disciplines to design innovative, quality software. Collaboration—Provide seamless, transparent access to the latest project information and enable remote and parallel workstreams.
Regulatory Compliance—Adhere to regulatory standards for software development governance. Analytics—Gain insights into software quality, usage, and team velocity to continuously improve software engineering process and predictability. Source Code Management—Integrate with code editing tools to track and manage changes and easily associate source code to requirements, risks, and test data.
Codebeamer Codebeamer simplifies product and software engineering at scale, unifies requirements, risk, and test management with Agile, and builds on OSLC for PTC digital thread integration. PTC Modeler PTC Modeler integrates with the PTC engineering digital thread, applying and extending OSLC for high-quality models that automatically generate and synchronize source code. Windchill PLM software Realize value quickly with standardized, out-of-the-box functionality across a comprehensive portfolio of core PDM and advanced PLM applications. PTC RV&S PTC RV&S offers built-in software change and configuration management, and OSLC standard-based integration with the PTC engineering digital thread.
Application lifecycle management case studies


Veoneer improves automotive safety Find out how Veoneer, a silent partner behind the world’s most advanced vehicles, is using Codebeamer to improve automotive safety. Read Their Story
Medtronic implementing Agile development Learn how this global medtech leader was able to scale Agile in their organization while maintaining compliance with medical regulations. Read Their Story
Laser focus on ISO 26262-ready ALM Find out why LeddarTech chose Codebeamer to support the delivery of cutting-edge environmental sensing solutions for autonomous vehicles. Read Their Story
Developing the future’s autonomous driving systems Navya was the world’s first company to release a commercially available self-driving shuttle. Find out how they modernized their development toolset. Read Their Story
The future of ALM

Software engineers are applying Agile techniques to automatically generate code and utilize reusable, off-the-shelf components, saving time and costs. AI-assisted engineering is poised to unleash the next wave of product development efficiency. Even as software engineering evolves, ALM capabilities will always be required, as it enables fundamental principles of transparency, governance, and collaboration.

Frequently asked questions

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a discipline that is applicable to any software product or project that requires the orchestration of people, tools, and processes. ALM supports the development of software, components, or libraries, and much more.

Regulated industries, including aerospace and defense, medical and pharmaceutical, and transportation and automotive, impose specialized requirements for building safety-critical products. These requirements govern both the safety and quality of the end products, as well as the rigor and auditability of the software development process itself. Because it provides a comprehensive governance framework, ALM excels at supporting software development in regulated industries. Specialized ALM capabilities can support IEC 82304-1, IEC 62304, ISO 14971, FDA 21 CFR Parts 11 & 820, ISO 26262, ISO 13485, Automotive SPICE, CMMI, and other standards and regulations.

ALM and PLM software work together to enable digital transformation. ALM excels at managing software requirements, test assets, and software releases throughout the software lifecycle. PLM excels at managing products, design documents, product platforms, and variants. Together, ALM and PLM empower organizations to manage their complete product portfolio.

Application Lifecycle Management as a discipline is process-agnostic and can be used to implement any software development process. Specific ALM tools, however, may limit your choice of process. That's why it's important to select an ALM platform that supports and helps automate your preferred way of working, whether it's Scrum, SAFe, V-Model, or another Agile or hybrid process.