Someone recently asked that question in a community forum. Their own answer was – ‘Never’. There are 3 aspects of this question that I can think of and respond with while agreeing fully with their answer.
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is an Activity
To my mind the phrase Application Lifecycle Management naturally means managing the lifecycle of an application. An application’s life begins humbly – with a request from a user or a customer, which fights for its survival amongst scores of similar requests. Once it wins, an application – however small or large – gets implemented/ developed to meet that request. Once deployed, an application has a life, the length of which is determined by a number of factors such as TCO and conformance to changing business requirements. The moment these factors weigh against the application, out it goes, upended by another request to replace that application!
A specific project which deals with an application – its selection/ prioritization, its development or implementation, or a making an incremental maintenance release of that application – is inherently ‘part of’ that application’s lifecycle management, however short or small. So, the question itself becomes redundant from that perspective. Organizations are executing projects (that deal with applications) as part of that application’s lifecycle, whether they realize it or not!
ALM is a category of Tool(s)
From an Application Lifecycle Management tools perspective, different vendors have taken a different tack. While some have focused on purely the development or software engineering aspects of it, others have taken a broader meaning which includes the portfolio and project management aspects of managing an application’s lifecycle. Still others have included a process-management aspect as well, that allows organizations to define processes for different aspects of the application lifecycle management, and use those processes in an integrated and standardized manner throughout the application lifecycle. Depending on the nature of the project, it will consume some or all of these aspects of ALM tools.
Various analysts such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC see it similarly; IDC actually has graphic that defines ALM as a combination of all three areas identified above. At Digité, we believe in that same vision. Thus, Digité provides a set of tools that allows our customers to manage the entire lifecycle on Digité or using a combination of ALM tools that Digité integrates with.
ALM is (part of) Organization Culture
A lot depends on an organization’s culture, their approach to workforce productivity and quality, and what some of their key performance parameters are. Organizations focused on multi-geography/ department workforce productivity, Total Cost of Ownership of an application, and quality will typically consider any project to be part of ALM rather than see it in isolation. Every organization that understands the true nature and breadth of application lifecycle management will agree.
It would be great to hear some more perspectives!
Sr. Vice President – Product