Application lifecycle management (ALM) is a combination of the development and support of applications over their entire life cycle. This also includes comprehensive user support and the further development of the software. Typically long contract terms and thus an award via tenders, a frequently occurring transition of personnel from the customer to the AM provider as well as the SLA basis (service level agreement) of the contracts lead to an assignment of application management to the area of IT outsourcing. In this context, the customer places the following tasks in the hands of an external service provider:
- application-driven infrastructure,
- the maintenance and support of its applications (application support) as well as
- user support (first- and second-level support).
AM can occur either as part of complete outsourcing contracts (embedded application management) or as a stand-alone service (stand-alone application management or simply: application support). Application development (service creation) deals with the requirements for an application, its design and its subsequent development.
Typically, this is followed by service management, in which the software is introduced, operated and continuously improved. In this context, a distinction is made between the phases of delivery, operation and optimization. The management of these processes is highly complex and time-consuming for globally active software manufacturers. The associated challenges of efficient and orderly task management led to the development and support approach of application management.
Application Management as a Development and Support Approach
AM combines application development and application operation. If application development and application operation are in one hand, the experience such as customer requirements and complaints, reliability, manageability and performance, can be integrated into the application development. The main goals are a smooth and efficient development of an application with a high level of customer satisfaction. In addition, the experience gained through application development simplifies the integration of application software into new system landscapes. Thus, application development is dedicated to the entire life cycle of an application – from the idea to (further) development to replacement.
Impact of Application Management
In practice, nowadays, the majority of software support is done by outsourcing companies. As application-oriented service providers, they are in many cases more involved with the programs than their manufacturers and are therefore often more familiar with them. Against this background and in view of the need for manufacturers to keep up with the latest developments, a closer exchange of information between software developers and outsourcing companies is strategically required. For this reason, many large companies often have outsourced employees provide regular training on their own products.