Tag Archive for: product lifecycle management

PLM

One of the best parts of my role at Jama is working with firms and people with different sizes and products, and services. I enjoy learning about their goals and challenges. I really enjoy geeking out and digging into processes and associated tools to identify areas for improvement.  One question I get asked often is something like “I have PLM, why do I need Jama Connect?” 

It is a fair question, so let’s dig in. 

It may be helpful to define Product Lifecycle Management. Instead of using the definitions from the major PLM players (Aras, Siemens, PTC, Dassault) I am using a couple of internet sources – because the internet is always right. Wikipedia and Investopedia define PLM respectively as:  

  • The process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from its inception through the engineering, design, and manufacture, as well as the service and disposal of manufactured products. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise. Ref Wikipedia 
  • The handling of a good as it moves through the typical stages of its product life: development and introduction, growth, maturity/stability, and decline. Ref Investopedia 

Seems solid. But notice it does not say anything about a PLM tool. That is because PLM is a collection of processes first and THEN software tools enable and operationalize those processes. Everyone gets hung up on the tool which is a mistake. Build a solid process and then assemble the best of breed tools to compliment your processes.  

Let’s illustrate this with an example. As I write this looking out the window I realize I need to mow my lawn tonight. The process of mowing the lawn is really broken down into lower level processes that I can choose the best tools for me to perform the needed processes. Since I’m a bit of a geek I had to make a chart to illustrate this.    

Jama Connect and PLM

Each low-level process can be accomplished with a number of tools. I highlighted the options I use in red. For my needs these are best of breed. I care about speed and general cleanliness, so I use a riding mower and a backpack blower and I mow once per week.  If I wanted a golf course quality lawn I’d mow three times per week and use the old school rotary mowers as seen at the golf course. The bottom line is that you pick the tools that best accomplish your processes and their goals.   

Single Source of Truth 

By assembling the best of breed tools, you are able to ensure your team is able to operate in the manner YOU need to. But what about my data, you may ask.  I don’t want to have data in three different systems. Absolutely correct. You want a single source of truth!    

Lionel Grealou, a Digital Transformation evangelist that I follow discussed this topic in his blog, noting that “SSoT is often mistaken for a single database or repository for all data; rather it implies an intelligent enterprise data model constructed for optimum data integration and control across multiple sources, avoiding duplication and redundancy.” 

That is an important distinction. We are advocating for a single SOURCE of truth as opposed to a single database of truth. This means that there is a single master of a given set of data. Using modern software platforms that have robust AND OPEN APIs (or through integration hub providers) it is a straightforward task to connect different platforms (and their databases) into your PLM process. 

Taking this approach ensures that data is authored and managed in a single location and shared to all those that need it. Users do not need to know where it came from they just know it gets to the right person, at the right time, in the right format.   

Forming a Digital Thread 

Let us unpack that a bit further. Using my lawn mowing example, if I have a requirement to mow my land in one hour. Those requirements may decompose into the width of my mower (50”) and the horsepower of the motor (22 HP). Those requirements can be passed to the systems engineering and mechanical design teams for their design tasks. The 50” geometric requirement will directly feed the mechanical design. The horsepower requirement will drive the system design and may result in reusing an engine or designing a new one. Again, I made a rudimentary illustration that I think explains itself.   

Jama Connect and PLM

The takeaway here is that we can connect our people and processes. When we do, we support their needs by allowing them to utilize the tools that best fit their needs. This should yield efficiencies and positively impact the form’s bottom line.   

The other outcome is that by connecting data, not only do we have a single source of truth, but we have also created traceability throughout our processes and data. The fancy new term for that is digital thread.  You can learn more about the digital thread by reading this blog, written by Jama Software’s CEO. 

As a note – I would be remiss if I did not note that I realize that I have glossed over the specifics of data models, storage, and APIs in play here. They are important, however, for the purposes of this discussion they are not necessary.  

Best in Breed for the Win 

Returning back to our question. In response, I’ll typically ask what PLM system they are referring to. I’ll also follow up with how they are using it – most PLM users only use their PLM systems for PDM. Next, I’ll need to understand if they have licenses to the PLM systems requirements package (if there is one), if they have the capability to customize the system, etc.  Some PLM systems have bolt on RM applications that still need to be connected to integrate data.  The answer is often a blank stare followed by a complaint about their PLM system.   

Ok. So forget trying to shoehorn requirements management and systems engineering into your old PLM system. Why not take the modern approach and utilize a model-based SaaS platform like Jama Connect for your systems engineering and pass the data to your PLM system?   

Industry analyst, Oleg Shilovitsky from BeyondPLM has weighed in on this topic, stating:    

The PLM paradigm is shifting from central to decentralized. The paradigm of connected digital services is also a departure from isolated SQL-based architectures running in a single company. The data is connected, web services keep all the history and provide access to a distributed version of truth. Such modern architecture is also continuously updated, which makes the problem of system upgrades a thing in the past and irrelevant as everyone is running on the same version of the same software. Furthermore, the cost of systems can be optimized and SaaS systems can serve small and medium-size companies with the same efficiency as large ones.  

Hmmm…  Accessible data with optimized web services with configuration management and cost efficiency. Sounds like a winner to me!   

Yes, Jama Connect is Compatible with Your PLM 

Putting all of this together is a matter of making the connections I suggested in the data flow image above. In my simplistic example, we could use REST API capability and federation to ensure a SSOT. Jama Connect data (requirements, system architecture, etc.) would be stored in Aras Innovator as federated data to be usable by the detailed design, mfg, and quality teams – yet not be editable since it is owned by Jama Connect. The test data (i.e. data files) would the reverse, federated back to Jama Connect to support the validation and testing processes but owned by Aras.   

Obviously, this is a simple example. There are details in play like how much you have customized your environment, but the basic idea remains the same: Use best in class platforms and connect the data to those that need it.   

If you would enjoy talking further, please drop me a line and we can get together, I’m always happy to talk shop!  [email protected].   



Product Development Lifecycle Management

Product development lifecycle management is the handling of the entire lifecycle of a product, from its earliest stages of concept development to its eventual production and use in the market. Effective strategy and execution across the lifecycle requires preserving quality while working within constraints on cost and time. A key component to successful product development is managing your requirements from start to finish within a system that allows for complete traceability and collaboration throughout the development process. A requirements management solution that enables live traceability, real-time collaboration, flexible development methodologies and hierarchical organization will ultimately lead to an improved product development lifecycle.

The Importance of Live Traceability

From the early stages of a product’s development all the way through its go-to-market execution, product development teams need to understand how their different requirements and tests are traced to each other throughout the process, in order to effectively manage compliance, track changes, and ensure product quality. The right solution should enable visibility across the product development lifecycle, so that team members can:

  • See the impact of change before it happens and adjust as needed
  • Automatically trace your requirements as you create content, reducing non-value time
  • Keep track of test coverage one convenient place
  • Automatically have guardrails that alert you to any gaps in your product development
  • Easily view and navigate upstream and downstream relationships
  • Create a clear audit trail to support the development of complex, safety-driven products
  • Export your trace matrices easily to help with proof of compliance

So how do these types of features work in practice? Let’s examine how live traceability functions in specific ways within Jama Connect.

Navigating Change Management and Impact Analysis

Too often data in complex product development remains in siloes, creating misalignment, lack of visibility, and difficulty to assess the impact of change. With objects traced in Jama Connect, you have the ability to perform an impact analysis which enables you to review the impact of each change to a new or existing product before it’s actually made. Changes happen to requirements and other artifacts all the time, which is why it’s important to be able to create baselines.

Additionally, the platform can reactively and automatically mark items as “suspect” when they are downstream from a modified item. Teams can then review a running listing of items needing further evaluation that may need to be evaluated for impact.

Relationship rules also enable you to track items within the same project or across multiple projects, using a visual schematic for representing the different artifacts traced throughout your development process.

Jama Connect can take a snapshot that documents the detailed status of a project, or any subset of a project, at a designated point in time, also allowing you to maintain meaningful comparison and overall traceability.

Multiple versions of a product requirement can also be compared, side-by-side, to see what changed. Through such visualization, teams can easily see how requirements have iterated over time and what led to those changes.

Diving into Test Management and Traceability

QA teams need the power to trace test results back to their corresponding requirements. In Jama Connect, these teams can perform manual testing, create and organize test plans with groups of test cases, dashboards, and view test-related reports throughout the product development process. They can also:

  • Organize testing information to support an iterative verification process
  • Identify missing test coverage and take action to close gaps
  • Reuse validated requirements saving time when testing across multiple product versions or variants.
  • View real-time, consolidated data about test plans, associated test cycles, cases, and test runs to-date
  • Perform all of these actions from the same interface

The end result is reduced risk throughout the product development lifecycle, along with increased product quality. For example, the ability to log failures and defects allows for the creation of trace relationships that make it easier to resolve the issue in question.

Meanwhile, out of the box reports and dashboards provide straightforward visualizations of the progress of the test management process, including how tests trace back to their requirements. That helps simplify industry compliance, as it is easy to show auditors  the connections between requirements and tests along with associated results.


RELATED: Five Tips for Requirements Traceability


Adding Power Through Integrations

An RM, test, and risk platform ensures that no project-related stone is left unturned, not only through the test management capabilities above, but also through wide-reaching integrations.

In Jama Connect, you can integrate with industry leading solutions providing a flexible, scalable solution when automated testing is necessary in the product development lifecycle. Pull in automated test results from other sources using Jama Connect’s integrations with popular solutions such as Tricentis: qTest, LDRA, Vector, Testrail, and ANSYS, as well as its Open REST API.

The Role of Real-Time Collaboration

The product development lifecycle requires collaboration between multiple stakeholders and teams, along with the efficient capture of stakeholder feedback and other standardized data during the requirements review and approval processes. Teams must be able to share, confirm, and iterate on product requirements and specifications, determine acceptance criteria, and coordinate engineering responses in real time, including prioritization capturing electronic signatures for approvals – ideally from a common place.

In reality, real-time collaboration is hindered by disjointed processes and discrete documents.

Review Center within Jama Connect provides a streamlined alternative, allowing you to gather and incorporate feedback from the relevant project stakeholders, track a review’s overall progress and view team statistics to determine which requirements have the most issues to address.

Managing Approvals and Electronic Signatures

Reviewers can join in conversations and mark items as “Approved” or “Needs More Work.” Use electronic signatures to demarcate the different stages of the product development process, establish roles between “Reviewers” and “Approvers” and export approved reviews to more effectively prove compliance. Each signature captures the time and date for auditing purposes, making it very straightforward to tie them back to their corresponding individuals or stakeholders.

Effective collaboration and engagement throughout the product development lifecycle has numerous benefits. With the right platform and setup, you can shorten milestone phases and development cycles, help teams better identify risks and opportunities and improve overall time to market.


RELATED: Streamlining Requirements Reviews: Best Practices for Moderators, Reviewers, and Approvers


Stream Discussions and Assign Responsibility

Jama Connect allows you to stream discussions bringing both internal and external stakeholders into the conversation easily without needing to navigate deep into the requirements management platform. A conversation can be easily expanded to encompass the necessary users and stakeholders and communicate key actions items to them. A user can respond to a conversation without even accessing the application proper, allowing them to add to a threaded and contextual exchange with ease.

Along similar lines, Jama Connect helps you see who authored, edited, commented on, or was mentioned in any given item. These details allow for quicker, more targeted action, for instance if a requirement changed and needs to be updated right away. The responsible parties, whether a developer or QA lead, can be notified and supplied with the relevant context.

Reusing Requirements to Save Time and Increase Consistency

Products often share requirements, so why not reuse them once approved? Efficient reuse requires the right platform for cataloging all the specific requirements in question and keeping them in sync across the organization.

Traditional document-based product development lifecycle management is an obstacle to reuse. Adding in a modern platform is a good step toward greater consistency in how you reuse your requirements and in turn shorten time-to-market by eliminating rework and manual processes.


To learn more on the topic of requirements management, we’ve curated some of our best resources for you here.

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application lifecycle management tools

Application lifecycle management (ALM) tools enable efficient, standardized communication and collaboration between teams in application development, testing, and other business departments. The benefits of a top ALM platforms include less risk from manual and siloed application lifecycle management processes, plus superior confidence in the outcome of compliance and product quality.

What is application lifecycle management?

ALM itself is a broad term. It encompasses key activities across requirements management, quality assurance (QA), IT service delivery, and project management. By spanning all of these diverse activities, ALM may include every workflow from mapping out a preliminary route to regulatory approval for a software-driven medical device, to the testing of that same product in alignment with its requirements and its eventual post-release maintenance.

The exact structure of ALM, and the particular solutions selected to support it, will vary based on the software development practices in use at an organization. For example,  ALM can support Agile methodologies as well as DevOps automation processes built around continuous integration and deployment pipelines. In these instances, an integrated ALM process, backed by the right ALM platform, helps bring teams together and ensures all requirements are met for each application.

Application lifecycle management tools can also work within Waterfall methodologies in which activities are broken down into discrete stages instead of approached continuously. Process-agnostic ALM platforms may be configured to support a variety of software projects and extended to support hardware initiatives that revolve around product lifecycle management (PLM), too.

In fact, ALM first emerged as a software-specific evolution of PLM, which applies to physical products such as automobiles. Organizations may seek integration between their ALM and PLM process and technologies to maximize the efficiency of their development processes, such as in the case of a complex connected device within the Internet of Things (IoT).

What do application lifecycle management tools do?

At a high level, best-of-breed modern ALM platforms may provide tools for:

Requirements management

Traditional processes for managing requirements are outdated, as they often involve maintaining numerous Microsoft Word documents and/or spreadsheets, all of which may need to be developed and reviewed separately. This approach slows down the application lifecycle while increasing costs by introducing unnecessary risk related to human error.

In contrast, an ALM tool form offers a comprehensive solution for requirements management. Teams can define all requirements, risks, and tests, plus create virtual relationships between work items, perform risk analysis, and have easy visibility into the potential impact of making changes. Requirements can be scheduled and managed from one interface.

Essentially, the ALM platform serves as a single source of truth where costly rework and time-consuming reviews of multiple siloed data sources can be avoided. Meanwhile, development processes are typically accelerated through substantial reductions in the time needed to identify and remediate requirements-related defects.


RELATED: How Better Requirements Management — and Requirements Management Tools — Can Improve Your Product Development Process


End-to-end activity traceability

With applications being developed on increasingly fast timelines and in accordance with a growing array of requirements and regulations, traceability is crucial.

Are development and testing activities adequately fulfilling all defined requirements (on both general and granular subsystem levels)? Are there any gaps in test coverage? Can proof of requirements fulfillment easily be reviewed, signed, and used to demonstrate compliance?

Getting reliable answers to these questions and others requires a capable ALM platform. The right ALM platform provides solutions for creating virtual trace relationships between requirements, risk, tests, and other development activities. More flexible ALM platforms can be extended through toolchain integrations (see below) to capture activity traces across teams and platforms. Virtual traces also tie electronic signatures to any defined milestones and released documents, as well as provide a way to see and analyze the potential impact of making changes. Proof of requirements fulfillment (i.e. trace views and matrixes) should be easy to monitor and export to demonstrate compliance.


RELATED: How Adopting Modern Traceability Leads to Better Products


Software testing and QA

Testing is an important part of ALM. More specifically, test results will need to be continually updated to accurately reflect the progress of an application’s lifecycle.

Keeping track of these details is more practical with a modern ALM platform that makes it easy to see the status of existing test results, add new tests as needed, and perform time-saving batch updates that capture or change the status of multiple test executions, all in one repository

With the right application lifecycle management tools, these testing and QA processes can be greatly streamlined by providing teams greater visibility into the requirements that inform their work. Accordingly, teams can get the most from their Agile processes and deliver the highest quality software to market as quickly as possible.

Real-time team collaboration

ALM is a fundamentally collaborative endeavor, as it spans a wide range of activities from project management to QA. But efficient collaboration can’t be taken for granted – teams need intuitive collaboration technologies to keep their work aligned and on track.

The real-time collaboration capabilities in an ALM or ALM-adjacent tools enable productive reviews and approvals. Features such as virtual reviews and electronic signatures containing a complete timestamp provide structured solutions for distributed/remote teams to streamline collaboration and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

Feedback can be captured in one place, allowing for items to be quickly and efficiently categorized as approved or in need of work. Centralizing collaboration features with requirements management provides a solution to track which stakeholders are involved so that follow-up actions can be appropriately assigned as necessary. Moreover, it reduces the risks associated with protracted project times and personnel churn, as knowledge it retained in the system itself rather than in individual minds, making key insights readily available down the line.


RELATED: Innovation Can’t Happen Without Collaboration


Toolchain integration

Multiple platforms may be combined to handle all of the different aspects of ALM-PLM. Platform extensions are typically constructed through built-in integrations or through the use of open APIs that support custom work.

The integration of platforms is important to keep activities, such as software development, properly aligned with requirements. An ideal integration allows for essential information to synchronize between platforms, facilitating collaboration, and improving visibility across otherwise siloed teams and/or technologies. In many cases, a toolchain integration offers a solution for improved traceability to demonstrate compliance.

Testing tools, task, and bug tracking software, and automation servers have great potential for integration with application lifecycle management platforms. Overall, an integrated ALM toolchain will lower risk and lead to better quality and compliance. The integration between Jama Connect and Jira is a prime example of how pairing different best-in-class platforms can increase visibility and support the work of global teams.

To learn more about Jama Connect, visit the main product development page, or get in touch with a member of our team.


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