How the Next Generation of CM and ALM Solutions Will Influence the Market

[article]

In his CM: the Next Generation series, Joe Farah gives us a glimpse into the trends that CM experts will need to tackle and master based upon industry trends and future technology challenges.

CRM functions), project management, the documentation team, and to all levels of management.  Perhaps not all roles will be supported all at once, but there will be a definite progression of roles addressed by advanced tools.

Management requires greater transparency to product data and this will require effective data navigation capabilities.  What will emerge are very-easy-to-use role-based interfaces which allow metrics to be easily defined and tapped, and which allow management at all levels to keep a pulse on each product while allowing effortless drill-down and summary capabilities.  Dashboards technology will advance significantly, and will be defined
and refined by the customer to meet specific requirements of the management team and management meetings.  In particular, there will be a dashboard defined specifically to run a CRB for a specific product development stream.

Ease-of-use will be dramatically improved by the introduction of to-do lists/in-boxes which drive each member of the team.  As 3G solutions mature, role-specific tabs which present a series of dashboards, summaries and other information that otherwise would have to be requested, will further simplify the user interface.  A simple click on a tab will
put the required information front and center. 

Where integrated solutions sit on a single database, there will be the ability to easily define metrics, both with a measurement component, and a drill-down capability. 
This will be further enhanced with the ability to navigate integration links in a natural fashion so that required information is never more than a few clicks away.  For those who have a tendency to avoid using tools, a "live" export capability will permit current views of a report by simply opening up the report from the file system explorer, or perhaps from an intranet web portal.

The developer will not be left out of the ease-of-use advances. Bulk file loading will be done with a simple drag and drop operation, with similar capabilities for populating and synchronizing workspaces.  The CM industry will finally start to see command-based "incantations" and menu/dialog intensive operations as archaic and will replace them with a more succinct and natural set of operations that require little, if any, training.

Customization - User Interface, Applications and Process

CM is not headed in a one-size-fits-all direction in the near term.  There are too many ways of doing things today.  The ALM suite is expanding much faster than standardization could be applied.  And today's vendor architectures are vastly different. 

Customers are tired of trying to shoehorn their requirements into vendor solutions that are not flexible.  The result is apparent in some more recent ALM offerings: customization
is a clear requirement and where the architecture allows, vendors are starting to deliver (see MKS and Neuma for example, both Canadian offerings).

From a user interface perspective, customization will be much easier.  The ability to easily
define or refine menu definitions and forms will emerge from a much more complex capability.  And additional features will allow dynamic customization, based on role, object state, and context.  The same goes for forms and interactive displays.  The ability to
customize the to-do lists and role-specific tabs to the customer and user specific requirements will eventually be both available and straightforward.  No more months of
consulting and charges (and business cases) to get the user interface to behave the way you need. The vendors who are able to deliver extensive and easy user interface customization will emerge as the winners.  Large customers will find the cost savings
and the capabilities compelling.  CM consultants will see an opportunity to turn CM solutions into high-level tool kits that they can use to generate wider profit margins (i.e. use less effort) while delivering more value with more accurate adherence to customer
requirements.

Process customization will continue to dominate the direction of newer tools, with some new twists.  A stronger focus on existing process frameworks will emerge in the form
of specific configurations or plug-ins for

About the author

CMCrossroads is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.