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The Ins and Outs of Application Lifecycle Management

by Kristin Bent

April 29, 2010

When I first heard the term “Application Lifecycle Management (ALM),” I sort of brushed it aside. It sounded like one of those super-niche, software-related terms that would be well over my head anyways.

After seeing and hearing the term more and more, however, I finally gave in. I wanted to know exactly what it meant. I wanted to know, even more, how it fit under the umbrella of Project Management.

Even after a few days of digging around online, I am absolutely still working out the details. I have made a bit of progress, though. I found an article by Michael Wood on gantthead.com that sheds a lot of light on the topic. He starts by noting that Wikepedia defines Application Lifecycle Management as “the marriage of business management to software engineering.” He continues on to discuss the evolution of the term, dating back to the 1970s, how its concepts have changed over time, the software folks who shaped the ideas behind it, etc. He ends, though, on an even more interesting note: although the evolution of the term is clear, the actual goal behind it is often “blurred” (apparently, I’m not the only one struggling to fully wrap my mind around ALM). He then concludes with an easily digestible summary of the goal behind Application Lifecycle Management, statingIt isn’t about applications at all but rather building technology solutions that align with the needs of the organization and its stakeholders--and thus needs to be tightly integrated to business process improvement methods and frameworks.”

Bingo. I think it was the “A” in the term “ALM” that was originally throwing me off; it’s not just about managing your software applications and how they run. It’s about ensuring your business goals and needs are on the same page as the solutions you leverage to achieve them.

So it seems, then, that Application Lifecycle Management, with its focus on an alignment between business needs and software capabilities, could definitely be useful to SAP project teams. I mean, if applied in the context of project management, ALM could help align the needs and goals of a project team, with the software (and tools?) available to them. At least, that’s how I’m meshing these two concepts together in my mind, as of today.

I would love to hear any insights anybody has into Application Lifecycle Management (especially in relation to managing an SAP project). It seems like a cool concept, and I’m interested in learning more. Ideas?

Until next time!

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