Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Introducing Program Lifecycle Management

Lifecycle Management is more than a buzzword, it is the central organizing principle of all Information Technology (IT) effort. Understanding how to differentiate or coordinate Lifecycle Processes is perhaps the key challenge in IT today. Program Lifecycle Management (PLM) represents a deliberate attempt to reconcile and combine multiple Lifecycle Management tasks within a single, unified approach. 

The Problem
So why is PLM important, why is it necessary? The motivation behind PLM has been with us for decades and despite many attempts it remains largely unresolved. IT projects are getting more complicated, not less – and this trend is accelerating, not decelerating. PLM directly addresses the root causes of this trend and has been developed to attack them in a comprehensive fashion. Those root causes for this IT complexity syndrome include:
  • System / Service / Solution sophistication continue to increase as the pace of technological change accelerates (thereby driving new and more demanding expectations from end users and stakeholders).
  • Interoperability Expectations have increased exponentially (both within the enterprise and externally between enterprises and stakeholders).
  • Bandwidth and resource exploitation expectations have become much more complicated (this covers storage management, virtualization, security, wireless connectivity etc.)
  • The pent-up expectations for data exploitation are only now beginning to be realized (after 10 years of evolution, BI tools and data warehouse capabilities are finally cost effective and now integration with unstructured sources through ECM, collaboration or Web 2.0 has begun).
There are a number of different places where we could tackle this growing complexity, but one place stands out – at the beginning. The beginning of most things IT tends to be the office or group charged with making projects happen and funded to manage them. Whatever else we do elsewhere with the myriad of Lifecycle issues that exist in most enterprises, if we don’t tackle the management office first our efforts will likely be somewhat frustrated.

PLM is quite literally a Lifecycle of Lifecycles...

How Many PLMs are There ?

Some of you might be familiar with the acronym “PLM” as representing Product Lifecycle Management. So how does these variations on PLM relate to one another? There are in fact five PLMs that are closely related:

  • Program Lifecycle Management
  • Portfolio Lifecycle Management
  • Project Lifecycle Management
  • Product Lifecycle Management
  • Process Lifecycle Management
These PLM variations can be viewed as a hierarchy within a single, unified enterprise context. More importantly, this unified context allows us to apply a common semantic foundation which in turns allows us to coordinate all of the related data within a single PLM data repository. This is not a Master Data Management solution although it does help greatly in establishing enterprise-wide MDM governance. Program Lifecycle Management supports active working processes and capabilities already familiar to those practitioners of the five PLMs.

There are a few organizations, IBM for example, who refer to something similar called Enterprise Lifecycle Management. However, the PLM described here is meant to serve a more specific purpose, namely the unification of the Program Management Office (PMO) efforts. The PMO is ultimately responsible for all IT program success or failure, but there are some enterprise details or processes that fall somewhat outside their normal management scope. PLM as a unified practice has been designed to optimize a consolidation of significant number of essentially related processes and capabilities. PLM does not integrate all IT activities though.       

Copyright 2012, Semantech Inc. All rights Reserved 


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