PLM and ALM: How To Blend Disparate Systems?

I had chance to read an article in SD time – Organization works to blend application, product life-cycle management. Author discussing the need to integrate two separate domain – development of hardware and mechanical components and software. I think, the message is very timely made. There are lots of software in modern products. Author brings an example of OnStar in vehicle communication. However, it is possible to bring more examples, of course.

Integration between disparate application having completely different set of data, rules and behavior is always a very challenging use case. In this case, author discussing the future of common standard creation that will help to integration PLM components and components managing software lifecycle (i.e. Rational tools). This discussion made me think about potential pitfalls and opportunities on this way.

Heterogeneous Application Environment
In the real world, many applications used during the design, engineering and manufacturing process. Mechanical, Electrical and Software teams are normally separate and relation between them quite limited from the software sides. This is the reality. In my view, when it comes to software, the disconnection comes to the top level. What can be a system that controls software build level need to be placed in the particular vehicle or other mechanical product?

Does One Standard Fit All?
The author is discussing OLSC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration). I found the following video funny. The idea of community is going very much aligned with modern social approaches.

There are three key fundamental principles – URL, Minimal Schema and REST services proposed to make this solution work. I’m thinking how much time people will spend before they will agree about minimal schema that fit all. At in the end, as film states everybody wants to be a little different.

Don’t Integrate, Just Connect Dots
Here is my point. We don’t need to invent a minimal schema. It is enough to agree about to interlink different product representation- mechanical, electrical, software. Think about URL only. In my view, it will be enough to get job done. Global data identification similar to what we have in the internet can move us in the right direction. One of the examples of such technologies can be PURL. “A persistent uniform resource locator (PURL) is a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) (i.e. location-based Uniform Resource Identifier or URI) that does not directly describe the location of the resource to be retrieved but instead describes an intermediate (more persistent) location which, when retrieved, results in redirection (e.g. via a 302 HTTP status code) to the current location of the final resource.”

What is my conclusion? The landscape of application involved in this product development is very large. The number of applications is growing. The ability to absorb the requirements of all applications into one minimal single standards schema seems impossible. The new and more efficient way to interlink data need to be proposed. We don’t need to bring software build and engineering bill of materials to a single representation. However, we need to be able to interlink data related to different applications to maintain data integrity.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg



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  • Hi Oleg,
    As i had some request in France to define again what is PLM, i refreshed my reflexion on the topic and i really arrived to the point where connecting and not integrating really is the futur of PLM. How know how much you want daily task to start from emails. I recently tested manymoon on the Google apps market. It’s an on-demand project management tool. It installs in a minute and then it’s connected to all the other google apps you’re working with, especially google mails.
    I don’t know what google is doing, what are their plan with sketchup, google map/earth or other cad or GIS initiative, but it seems like they have everything to start a large revolution in PLM & GIS.
    So back to the PLM definition, and like the video shows, there are a lot of tools and PLM is not one, it has to be strategy. In our new website ( on the PLM page we made an image ( of the difference between ERP and PLM. Today in each system (ERP or PLM) you have many tools to improve daily tasks productivity and data management. But at the end of the day, the major difference i think is that ERP has to deliver a Financial state of the company whereas PLM has to give the intellectual property state of the company.
    My though on the other side of the atlantic.
    Best Regards,

  • Oleg – I had raised a question on the same lines some time back in LinkedIn – Can PLM encompass ALM?*2_2&sik=&viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=14411349

    PLM and ALM integration is becoming a real need specially if you are developing electromechanical devices. Last heard, PTC has proposed ALM be included in the PLM solution. The benefit, is “customers will be able to have a single solution that manages mechanical, electrical and software development.”


  • hi oleg & Jyotirmoy,
    Just like Oleg said it’s not about integration, and when a PLM editors says they are going to integrate ALM, it scares me a little bit because many features will be the same, they manage workflows, versions, etc… So if they just integrate it, you might have on the same server 2 different BPM, 2 doc management, etc… I think ERP, PLM and ALM for example have to stop digging into functionnalities. They all should list what are the features they need, and finally we will se that most features will be common. And on the top of that they will have to add some kind of logical layer that runs their Core target.
    Best Regards,
    Yoann Maingon

  • Yoann,

    You are right on with the fact that most of the features like Project Management, Change management, Issue management, Monitoring and reporting, Workflow, and Versioning will be the same for PLM as well as ALM systems. However note that a PLM system is more of a “part-based” system whereas an ALM system needs much more levels of granularity. For a mature PLM system to add some kind of logical layer over their original core to attain such levels of granularity will need a major investment – which is only possible if there is an adequate amount of requirement. Looks like there might be “PTC has seen limited adoption of ALM, but said their customers are starting to ask for a software product to help manage the embedded the software.” (Quoted from


    P.S. looks interesting – Do you have an English version?

  • Yoann, Thanks for the comment and link. I liked your point related to the email. Lots of people uses email as their start point in everything they are doing. With regards to the PLM vs. ERP… I don’t think it is possible to come to clear differentiation. Especially when ERP vendors are actively pushing forward into PLM space. At the same time, PLM is moving into manufacturing domain. The clash is obvious and based on current business models – data ownership. Best, Oleg

  • Jyotirmoy, I don’t think a “single solution” is a way to go. The problem is that we have too many disparate systems. So, my proposal of interlinking can be more flexible. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • @Jyotirmoy: The english version is on its way. Should be availble in the next few weeks. Regarding what you said about customers asking PTC to integrate ALM. I had the same discussion with Polarion, their customer ask for more product structure integration. So yes there definitely a reason to associate both but i wish that they won’t just make a bridge between solutions which would create another custom dev that other apps can’t reach (just like the beggining of the OSLC video.
    @Oleg: that’s were the standards will help, neither PLM nor ERP will own the data. I think companies like Zoho are doing the right thinks they deliver Datamanagement and functinnalities like forms and Workflows, and on the Top of that you can build or connect your ERP or PLM solution. hummm Data, Forms, Workflows, sounds to me like Aras Innovator’s doing that too (ok easy one). Back to the email things, it’s true that people start from emails but i recently changed my welcome page on MS Outlook to open up on Calendar + tasks of the day (following GTD advice) and it makes my day start a lot faster!
    Best Regards,
    Yoann Maingon

  • here is the video from GTD where they talk about starting outlook from calendar:

  • Yoann, You hit exactly the point I wanted to stress. My opinion is that multiple systems are the real situation in organizations. To replace them with a single solution is a very expensive and not productive task. Also, overlaps can raise additional questions related to usage of identical modules. Best, Oleg

  • Jyotirmoy, I think, PLM vendors will try to partner with existing ALM vendors like Rational and others… However, such integrations are complicated exactly because of what you said about granularity of solution. Best, Oleg

  • Yoann, Standards you mentioned are actually data modeling (similar to Aras and others). Trying to align all together you make your solution skyrocketing in terms of cost of change. This is what most of enterprise systems are doing today. This is dead-end, in my view. Best, Oleg

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