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How you can benefit from ALM–Application Lifecycle Management

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Published on
2024-05-08
Written by
Johan Adelgaard

How you can benefit from ALM–Application Lifecycle Management

Application lifecycle management (ALM) is usually associated with securing the functionality of software. But the area of use is much wider than that. With a platform such as PTC Codebeamer, all manufacturing industries can benefit and take a big leap in its requirements and risk management processes. In this blog post, I will look closer at why and how to use ALM in your requirements management. You can also join us on our webinar on the 14th of June at 10 am, CEST, about Requirements Engineering in the Mechanical World, read more about it – HERE!

If you search the internet for the definition of application lifecycle management, ALM, you will probably find something like this:

The process of managing the development of an application from design to its final release”, or “The strategic process of managing a software lifecycle”. In other words, very connected to the development of software, not least within complex and regulated industries as automotive, health/pharma and defense.

 

ALM applies to all industries

But, when discussing ALM, it is important to remember that it involves other important processes, applicable and valuable for other industries as well:

  • Requirements management.
  • Test management, i.e. verification and validation.
  • Risk management.

These areas are crucial when developing software, why it is a natural and integrated part of an ALM software. They are also getting increasingly important in all industries. That is why a digitalized ALM platform benefits all manufacturing industries.

Industrial Machinery - ýapp

Seven reasons to use an ALM platform

Why do I need a dedicated ALM platform as Codebeamer? There are several reasons for this, but let me summarize it in the following seven benefits:

  1. It reduces all manual work.
  2. It enables full collaboration between all teams and people involved.
  3. It results in a stable and secure requirements management, including complete control of regulatory and standard compliance.
  4. It facilitates testing/verifying and validation of all products, parts, and software involved.
  5. It offers a systemized risk management process.
  6. It provides full traceability and transparency for all involved.
  7. It integrates seamlessly with the PTC platforms Windchill (PLM) and Modeler (MBSE) and connects all requirements with all product data in one user-friendly interface.

ALM Codebeamer Automotive ISO26262 and ASPICE

Kicking dead data alive

The most obvious reason to use an ALM platform is that it reduces all manual work in spreadsheets as Excel. Data gathered in these types of software becomes “dead” data, where you must change all requirements for all products and variants manually. This is time consuming, cumbersome and a potential risk. When you have changed a requirement in Codebeamer, it instantly gets valid for all products and parts in the PLM system.

In Codebeamer, you have full insight on the maturity of your requirements, i.e. how far in testing it has reached. This means you can always track all processes. You can also reuse the requirements for all products and variants, meaning having a base requirement that works for all products and then add different variants for each product. If you change the base requirement, it instantly affects all variants. In one fell swoop, you avoid going through all products and variants manually. How many hours of work have you saved in just that one maneuver?

The six steps of the requirements management process

This leads me to the requirements management process. It contains several steps, all equally important to keep track of:

  1. Identify stakeholders.
  2. Collect, analyze, and document initial requirements from stakeholders.
  3. Agree on and approve requirements.
  4. Continuously communicate with stakeholders.
  5. Revise requirements, assess the impact, and document changes.
  6. Test/verify and validate requirements.
Let’s dive into these steps and how Codebeamer supports them.
  1. Identify stakeholders

Start by identifying all stakeholders involved in the product or project. This may include representatives from design, engineering, production, quality assurance, marketing, sales, and sometimes external partners or customers.

  1. Collect, analyze, and document initial requirements from stakeholders

Once you have identified your stakeholders, you need to collect, analyze, prioritize, and document requirements. This involves discussions, interviews, surveys, and probably market research. The analysis makes you understand customer needs, regulatory requirements, and connect these with your business goals. This step ends up with documenting the requirements. This documentation serves as a reference point throughout the project and ensures that all stakeholders have a common understanding of what needs to be achieved. Codebeamer manages requirements that specify product behavior, features, or applications, and even dimensions and mechanical specifications.

  1. Agree on and approve requirements

Next thing to do is to review the documented requirements together with the stakeholders. During this process, conflicts or discrepancies may arise. These differing opinions need to be resolved. Negotiate and compromise to reach a consensus on the final requirements you can all agree on. The approval process should include sign-offs from key stakeholders. Codebeamer offers a review process where different stakeholders can review the requirements and comment on possible issues or misunderstandings. When every stakeholder is satisfied with the requirement, it can move to an approved status.

  1. Continuously communicate with stakeholders

Once approved, it is important to communicate the requirements to all relevant parties involved in the project. This ensures that everyone understands what needs to be accomplished and their respective roles and responsibilities. Reports and e-mail notifications allow responsible users to see in Codebeamer what the next steps are and on what they should concentrate.

  1. Revise requirements, assess the impact and document changes

Throughout the project lifecycle, it’s essential to monitor the requirements and manage any changes that may arise due to evolving business needs, technological advancements, or other factors. Assess any changes in their impact on cost, schedule, and quality before being implemented.

Since changes can have a huge impact on the project, they need to be tracked and approved before implementing them into the product. Codebeamer keeps track of the changes, for example of requirements. Codebeamer informs responsible stakeholders, whose downstream objects, like test cases or parts from PLM Windchill, rely on those requirements.

  1. Verify and validate requirements

Last, but not least, verify the implemented solution and validate it against the agreed-upon requirements to ensure that it meets the desired outcomes and satisfies customer needs–and that it meets any functional safety standards.

Together with external tools, Codebeamer supports automated execution of test procedures on software, system, and product level. It visualizes key metrics like test coverage, status and results for each requirement or aggregated on product or project level.

This step is of such importance, I will intend to write a separate blog post focusing on the specific topic of testing/verifying and validating. (You can read my other blog How to Verify and Validate prototypes and productsHERE)

By following this structured process, manufacturing companies can ensure that requirements are thoroughly reviewed, agreed upon and approved, leading to successful project outcomes and satisfied stakeholders.

Full traceability

Let’s round off with some reflections on the so important traceability. The requirements management process described above is so much easier to stick to and uphold if you have full traceability and transparency. I would say it is almost a requirement…

With an ALM software as Codebeamer, you can trace all requirements and all changes, not only to its sources but also backwards in time.

Traceability is essential in providing regulatory evidence:

  • From concept to validation.
  • Regarding risk assessments, safety goals and risk mitigation.
  • From specifications to the implementation, either in hardware components or software modules.
  • Across all product lines and model options, including the correct version and baseline.

ALM - Codebeamer

Summing up the benefits of a digital requirements management

  • It allows you to capture, trace, analyze and manage requirements changes.
  • It ensures that you track changes in a secure, central source, accessible for all involved with designated user rights.
  • It enables strong collaborations between teams, departments, and stakeholders.
  • Transparency minimizes double work.
  • A digital requirements management makes it much easier to ensure that requirements comply with standards and regulations.

NAVYA – Case Study

Navya chose Codebeamer to modernize their development toolset. In 2018, Navya faced a significant challenge related to product development complexity within their rapidly growing organization. To address this, they initiated a project aimed at identifying development tools capable of managing the complexities involved in delivering high-tech autonomous driving solutions. Their goal was to strike a balance between the flexibility of Agile methodologies and the structured approach of the V-model, all while ensuring compliance with safety requirements.

Read the entire Navya journey with ALM here – Navya Case Study

 

Johan Adelgaard,

Head of Sales & Marketing ýapp Nordics

 

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