Published By - Brian Curtis

ALM vs. SDLC: Understand the Difference

ALM vs. SDLC

In today’s era of software-driven world, speed is the game. Every company wants to achieve prodigious levels of productivity, and in order to so they need to be supersonic, which can be accomplished by managing their software inside out. Easy, isn’t it?

This is where processes like Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) come in handy. While the former helps in making better and smart decisions about efficiently managing the software, the latter helps in creating a robust software. We’ll read more about them in detail further in the blog, so better get your coffee.

Let’s have a brief know-how of what ALM and SDLC basically are, and what really is the degree of difference between these two.

Application Lifecycle Management or ALM is an integration of people, processes and tools that manages the overall lifecycle of an application from inception to its getting obsolete. It includes maintenance, development and finally it’s decommission.

On the other hand, Software development lifecycle or SDLC is a process or a set of procedures involved in creation of a high quality software. SDLC is basically a detailed plan to create, develop, maintain and replace a particular software. The lifecycle delineates a methodology for constant observation and improvement in the quality of software and the overall development of process.

So if we recall what we have read till now, we come to know that ALM is more comprehensive a process and SDLC is a part of the ALM process. Confused? Let me make it a bit simpler. We all know what is marketing and what is selling. Marketing process starts right with the concept of an idea of selling a product/service into the market. It involves market research, promotion, selling and finally the after-sales service. Selling however is just confined to selling that product in the market and ends with it. Selling is a part of marketing.

Likewise, ALM is a much broader concept, an umbrella term for developing, governing, maintaining and finally decommissioning the application. While SDLC is concerned about designing the software, ‘the development part of the ALM’. All ambiguity cleared now?

Now that we know what both the cycles do, let’s dive a little deeper into the process of these systems.

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

Application Lifecycle Management is an integrated system of processes and tools that manage the life of an application from conception to its dissolution. ALM is more comprehensive a scope than SDLC. ALM includes development, governance, maintenance and finally antiquation of software, while SDLC focuses primarily on the development phase. In order to understand the process of ALM, let’s understand the operations of an ALM tool.

Here are some pivotal components of ALM tool

Requirement Management

ALM tool’s functionality includes managing of requirements in an efficient and effective way. Few of the ALM tools in market also have support for use cases as a subset of requirement definition process. This helps the team in managing their requirements efficiently while keeping a track of scenarios associated.
It also includes a planning and estimation phase wherein the whole project is planned out. ALM tool is designed to adapt any SDLC methodology viz. Waterfall, Scrum or Agile development technique.

Source code management is an essential requirement in product lifecycle management. It helps in keeping the working copies of the code, which are then distributed in different groups within a team. The different groups being, development teams, testers and support team. Integrated source code management is a really useful functionality provided by the ALM tools.

Quality Assurance

ALM tools include quality assurance as a part of software development which is one striking difference between regular project management tools and application lifecycle management tools. ALM tools also allow creation of test cases within separate folders.

Deployment

Regular project management tools don’t offer continuous integration for compilation of software but the latest ALM tools come with different CI server integrations. This helps in combining the information from different sources to build information and provide visibility to every change in the build. These tools also allow you to see code changes within each build.

Maintenance and Support

Both development and deployment have become a continuous process in an SDLC with the rapid changes in Agile methodologies. In such scenarios customer support saves the day by helping developers and fixers to work adequately according to their requirements.

Having understood the Application Lifecycle Management, now let’s move on to the next segment, i.e., Software Development Lifecycle Management.

Software Development Lifecycle Management (SDLC)

Here’s the entire SDLC process divided in few stages:

Requirement collection and analysis

Requirement analysis is the first and foremost stage in the SDLC process. Lead by the senior team members, inputs are taken from all the stakeholders and domain experts in the industry. Setting of quality assurance standards and recognizing the risks involved is also done at this stage.
This stage provides a lucid picture of the entire project and various issues and opportunities can then be anticipated.

Feasibility study

This step includes constructing a ‘Software Requirement Specification’ document, also known as ‘SRS’ document. It consists of everything which needs to be designed and developed during the life cycle of the project.

There are mainly five types of feasibility checks, namely economic, legal, operational, technical and schedule

Design

As self-explanatory it is, this is the step where the actual designing takes place. It also includes 2 different kinds of documents namely High-Level Design (HLD) and Low-Level Design (LLD) consisting of different characteristics.

Coding

Coding is the longest phase of the Software Development Life Cycle process. In this phase, developers, by writing the code, start building the entire system. In this phase, tasks are divided into number of modules or units and are assigned to the numerous developers.

Testing

Like every perfectionist there is, companies also want to test the software before calling it open in the market. The testing team begins with testing the whole system to verify if the application is abiding by the customer requirements.
If bugs are found in the system they are fixed by developers and then again re-tested for any discrepancies.

Installation/Deployment

Only when the software testing phase is over and all the errors are eradicated from the system, then only the final deployment process is started, based upon the feedback given by the project manager.

Maintenance

Have you came across this situation when you switch on your laptop, PC, smartphone and your eye catches a notification which says ‘software upgrade’? Well, that is what maintenance is all about. Constant bug fixing, enhancements and upgrading to improve the current state of the software is what sums up the maintenance part.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, SDLC is actually a subset of ALM process wherein ALM covers all the process in the portfolio including SDLC. ALM is a much broader concept covering all the aspects from the inception to the retirement of the application while SDLC just focuses on the software designing part.

 

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