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Where does the acronym ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) come from?


I became interested today in where this ALM term comes from.  It is involved a lot with what Microsoft does on the Team Foundation Server (TFS) front and frankly, I’ve thought it to be just another marketing term for Software Engineering.  BUT, I wanted to investigate and dig deeper….

The best I can tell, the acronym ALM comes from PLM or Product Lifecycle Management.  The Wikipedia article on PLM has a good history of the term and how it came to be used at Chrysler in the mid 1980’s.  They basically started centralizing all designs, documentation, etc. of the Jeep Cherokee into one database to manage its creation.  Sounds a lot like ALM to me today.

It also makes sense that the term would come from manufacturing.  This article from 2002 talks about the transition in the manufacturing industry from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools to a more holistic approach of PLM.  There was also a boon of Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tools in the 1980’s.  CAD leads to PLM.  CASE leads to ALM.  We both went from individual tools that did design, requirements, etc. and integrated them into one tool or system.  That seems to be the evolution.

The borrowing from manufacturing also makes sense as so much of Software Process comes from that industry. Kanban, Lean, CMMI, and on and on.  Deming, one of the greats in manufacturing process, is cited often in software process literature.

So there it is, ALM comes from PLM which all originated in the auto industry with the Jeep Cherokee.  Who would of thunk it? 🙂

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About Leonard Woody
Software Engineer

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