You think you’ve captured your customer’s requirements for the project you’re developing and the program kicks off. Then requirements start creeping and before long you have an expanding web of tasks and dependencies. Senior managers are asking for a progress report, the budget is dwindling rapidly, the delivery date looks ambitious and developers are feeling the pressure. Ever been there?
Whatever industry you’re in, software is likely to play a critical role whether it is an interactive toy, a medical device or a dishwasher. It’s not unusual to read that a modern car, with infotainment, navigation and comfort features, incorporates over 100 million lines of code.
The manufacturing process for a piece of software is just as exacting as the manufacture of a tangible product, yet many companies are relying on imperfect tools to manage software development projects. Spreadsheets and documents are simply not designed for collaborative projects which need to identify priorities, monitor complex relationships, or track progress against deadlines and budgets.
Meet the solution: Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
Those familiar with product lifecycle software, such as Teamcenter from Siemens PLM, know that it manages all aspects of the design and manufacturing process by storing and updating information, creating workflows and defining responsibilities. Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) does the same for the project development process. It captures and structures requirements, attaches these to tasks, assigns ownership and sets timescales.
In some industries, such as aviation, ALM is a well-established discipline that ties functionality to safety regulations and performance standards. However, many customers implement ALM simply to capture requirements effectively and consolidate them into one single version of the truth. For example, if a company is asked to design and engineer a gearbox, it is essential to clarify specific customer requirements and understand the limits of a project.
ALM is fundamental for any first-tier supplier that needs to establish requirements, demonstrate that it can fulfil them and then audit the results. ALM details all the functional aspects of what is needed and highlights relationships between what is already in position and what is yet to be achieved.
Minimise manual processes and avoid errors with Polarion ALM
Polarion, which is now part of the Siemens PLM Software portfolio, is the ALM toolset chosen by global organisations such as Bosch, Credit Suisse, Olympus and Telefonica.
As a browser-based tool, Polarion allows individuals located anywhere to access the same up to date information and work collaboratively. With everyone accessing the same data source, there is no potential for conflict and misunderstanding about what represents the most up to date situation. It is particularly helpful when coordinating a team of developers working remotely.
OnePLM uses Polarion to connect the many processes that make up its own software development projects and there will be more on that in our next article about ALM.