The need for ALM-PLM integration in an era of system-of-systems products is clear. But still there are roadblocks to achieving the perfect unification of ALM and PLM.
While there is a technical challenge involved, the problem of unifying them is also a cultural problem: traditional PLM users are resisting the Agile work culture associated with the world of software.
ALM-PLM integration is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now. Actually, it's a hot topic in several industries: integrating hardware and software development is as much a concern for production software (both ALM and PLM) vendors as it is for hardware and embedded software developers – let alone those companies that offer innovative system-of-systems products combining hardware, software and service components.
Traditionally, ALM and PLM used to be isolated disciplines, operating within the boundaries of their own "silos". Innovative products and the Internet of Things are creating a need to break down these boundaries, fundamentally reshaping the lifecycle management software industry. The role of software is rapidly increasing in all types of hardware products. A great example of this trend is the automotive sector, where, according to a 2013 McKinsey report:
"Electronics and software will play a dominant role in vehicle innovation. Approximately 90 percent of automotive innovations in 2012 featured electronics and software, especially in active safety and infotainment options."
Benefits of increased integration
Software is taking over larger and larger chunks of core or extended functionality from hardware. But this also means that the integration of these two will have to be seamless and perfect. Sure, your car can automatically wipe your windshield if it starts raining, which involves a certain level of integration between hardware and software. But in a few years, self-driving cars may become a reality. In order for this to be a safe, reliable and convenient option, a never before seen level of integration will be necessary.
In addition to that, an integrated product development lifecycle (which we at Intland Software have started calling xLM, the overarching lifecycle) can help improve both time to market and product quality. Linking hardware and (embedded) software, providing traceability throughout the lifecycles of both, and facilitating the maintenance of these products are all valuable assets that serve both the safety, and the profitability of these products.
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Strategies to Unify ALM and PLM
Therefore, the convergence of ALM and PLM is necessary and inevitable, but how exactly this is going to happen is still a question. Is PLM going to take over ALM? Or is the more modern concept of ALM going to be able to accommodate PLM artifacts and practices that have been shaped in over 15 years of use?
xLM, the overarching product lifecycle
We are at the verge of a new industrial revolution. The transition to this new form of product development is already on its way, but that doesn't mean we're any closer to having a silver-bullet solution to all the questions of ALM-PLM integration. As it was the case back in the early days of the internet, some industry experts claim that solutions providers are already lagging behind the needs of the industry. They are, of course, doing their best to come up with viable solutions to the problem of integrating hardware, software and service lifecycles.
While no one really knows what the industry standard answer to this question will be, the early consensus seems to be that flexibility will be a key characteristic of any feasible solution. Managing, coordinating, and integrating custom product development processes that had not been standardized in any way is only possible if the tools used are highly adaptable.
As a company at the forefront of this change, Intland Software has taken a really agile approach to integration. Instead of merging tools, or creating functional integrations for specific tools, we chose to integrate both data and processes, the two most important aspects of both ALM and PLM, in a highly configurable way.
codeBeamer ALM supports the development of high-tech, embedded, IoT-enabled devices via its workflow engine with Business Process Management capabilities. This workflow engine enables you to connect ALM and PLM processes across tools while ensuring data consistency throughout the entire xLM (product) lifecycle. Due to its flexibility, codeBeamer ALM can be configured to accommodate any process and any kind of data, allowing you to manage the entire development lifecycle of complex IoT and embedded products.
To learn more about how codeBeamer supports IoT development via its unique take on ALM-PLM integration and Business Process Management, watch our 30-minute webinar below. Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us with your questions. Ready to start? Initiate your free trial of codeBeamer ALM right away!