Why PLM-ALM interoperability and traceability is hard

Why PLM-ALM interoperability and traceability is hard



ALM and PLM integration and common trajectories is very interesting trend to follow. Back in 2015 I’ve made a presentation speaking about ALM and PLM. Check my earlier blog here.

One of the notable events in PLM business was acquisition of Polarion by Siemens PLM. You can read more about it here. I wasn’t surprised by the acquisition – every manufacturing company these days is turning into software company and modern manufacturing products look like “computer on the wheels” or “software wrapped into plastic”. So, it is absolutely predictable to think that Siemens PLM will try to come with the solution how to manage software as part of product lifecycle management portfolio.

So, a little bit more than a year after acquisition and the time is now to show some results. My attention was caught by Siemens PLM blog post – Sharing the ALM-PLM interoperability vision at PLM Connections – Europe. Here is an interesting passage:

…Teamcenter-Polarion ALM integration roadmap is solidifying and the development teams have concentrated their efforts on the release of several new versions of the integration. The latest release provides better bi-directional traceability by automatically mapping Polarion ALM™ and Teamcenter items across the requirements and change management workflows. To provide a more intuitive user experience all traceability information and data is accessible using Active Workspace, which helps design teams get a clearer, more familiar view of cross-domain data. Since hardware and software teams are always more productive when working in their native environments, users can initiate change and requirement engineering workflows in either their Teamcenter or Polarion environment.

If you want to know more details, you can navigate to the following link (http://extensions.polarion.com/extensions/274-polarion-connector-for-teamcenter), which provides more details about Polarion connector for Teamcenter.

The article made me think about interoperability and traceability in enterprise software integration. This is one of the most fundamentals things if you think of all enterprise PLM integration. Every PLM implementation requires integration with other systems. You can think about PLM-ERP integration as a most typical case. In most of the cases PLM-ERP integration is one directional (data is pushed from PLM to ERP). More sophisticated customers implemented bi-directional orchestration.

However, ALM-PLM integration is representing a different use case in my view. I’ve been watching a short video demo Teamcenter and Polarion integration

You can see how both disciplines are interplaying together. Both products have complex data models and working scenarios. Both products have an extensive set of features. This video made me think about data interoperability and traceability.

Interoperability defines data flow between two systems or databases. In case of Teamcenter and Polarion we have both. The event drive architecture is capable to deliver data and orchestrate events. However, the level of complexity in such scenario is very high. What even more complex is dependencies between data models and messages. Usually, interoperability scenario is fragile. However, in case of Teamcenter and Polarion are belonging to the same brand – Siemens PLM, which can give an additional extra points to delivery interoperability.

Traceability is all about connection. What build of software is related to a specific part / assembly version and combined in the same engineering or manufacturing change order. Data dependencies are complex. PLM and ALM are extremely complex as well as their data models. I can imagine the level of complexity to establish data relationships and keep it up to speed.

On top of the need for interoperability and traceability, I can see the need to provide some level of configuration and customization. It brings an additional level of complexity to already complex solution.

What is my conclusion? Software is playing an increased role in manufacturing and products w eare using everyday. So, integration of ALM and PLM is such an interesting topic. Siemens PLM clearly made an interesting step by acquiring Polarion and establishing first integration. However, I’m interested to see what are the next steps and what will be a trajectory of common PLM-ALM software development. How to beat complexity. This is probably one of the key questions to answer in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.

picture credit Bolt VC blog


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