When developing products or systems, the use of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools, which help to control the development process, is indispensable.
The process chain consists of many sub-disciplines: from project management through task, source code, requirements and test management to modeling and change/defect management and much more - all areas have different software requirements and different ways of working. But they have one thing in common: Data from the various disciplines must be visible in other areas and changes must be traceable. This is even regulated and required by law, especially for safety-relevant products such as those in the automotive industry or medical technology.
So the crucial question first is: Best-of-Breed or ALM Toolsuite?
An ALM tool suite as an overall solution offers a common interface and covers most disciplines. Communication and data exchange are ensured. But hardly ever do the contained sub-areas offer the most suitable range of functions for one's own needs in the corresponding special field, nor do they cover all disciplines consistently. The area of modeling, for example, is not included in any tool suite as an integrative component.
For each discipline of the development process, however, there are also highly specialized individual tools on the market that generally offer far more functionality than the subcomponents of a suite solution. These usually come from different manufacturers and are therefore (initially) not integrated with each other. However, each sub-discipline can work with the individually best or the most mature solution. With this best-of-breed approach, the respective software requirements are fulfilled in the best possible way, so that each discipline can perform qualitatively mature work.
But not only the conscious decision for a best-of-breed strategy leads to a heterogeneous software landscape, but also in the case of mergers or acquisitions and thus the consolidation of different companies, the result is such a complex tool chain. Often, however, it is simply grown structures in companies or development departments that lead to this.
And even ALM tool suites are often not used throughout, but are supplemented by third-party products (see example Modeling) or there is a need for automated data exchange with business partners.
In each of these cases, the teams working together quickly face the challenge of cross-tool communication and data exchange. The challenge is to integrate the entire process chain and ensure the exchange of all data and formats. Manufacturers generally offer programming interfaces (APIs) for this purpose, which are used to integrate the tools and synchronize data.
If, for example, script-based solutions or individual programming are developed at this point by yourself or by an external service provider, this quickly leads to further dependencies and you reach your limits when it comes to support, updates or other changes - a question of costs, time, know-how and responsibilities.