ALM vs. SDLC: Understand the Difference

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In today’s era of the software-driven world, speed is the game. Every company wants to achieve prodigious levels of productivity, and in order to do so, they need to be supersonic, which they can accomplish by managing their software inside out. Easy, isn’t it?

This is where processes like Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) come in handy. We shall shed light on the chief differences between ALM vs. SDLC in this blog.

Explained: ALM vs. SDLC

While the former helps in making better and smarter decisions about efficiently managing the software, the latter helps in creating robust software.

We’ll read more about them in detail further in the blog, so better get your coffee.

Let’s have a brief know-how of what ALM and SDLC basically are and what really is the degree of difference between these two.

Application Lifecycle Management or ALM is an integration of people, processes, and tools that manages the overall lifecycle of an application from inception to its becoming obsolete. It includes maintenance, development, and finally, decommissioning.

On the other hand, the Software development lifecycle or SDLC is a process or a set of procedures involved in the creation of high-quality software.

SDLC is basically a detailed plan to create, develop, maintain, and replace a particular software. The lifecycle delineates a methodology for constant observation and improvement in the quality of software and the overall development of the process.

So, if we recall what we have read till now, we have come to know that ALM is a more comprehensive process, and SDLC is a part of the ALM process. Confused? Let me make it a bit simpler.

We all know what marketing is and what selling is. The marketing process starts right with the concept of selling a product/service into the market.

It involves market research, promotion, selling, and finally the after-sales service. Selling, however, is just confined to selling that product in the market and ends with it. Selling is a part of marketing.

Likewise, ALM is a much broader concept, an umbrella term for developing, governing, maintaining, and finally decommissioning the application.

While SDLC is concerned about designing the software, ‘the development part of the ALM’. Is all ambiguity cleared now?

Now that we know what both cycles do let’s dive a little deeper into the process of these systems.

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

Application Lifecycle Management is an integrated system of processes and tools that manage the life of an application from conception to its dissolution.

ALM is more comprehensive in scope than SDLC. ALM includes development, governance, maintenance, and finally, the antiquation of software, while SDLC focuses primarily on the development phase.

In order to understand the process of ALM, let’s understand the operations of an ALM tool.

Here are some pivotal components of ALM tool

Requirement Management

ALM tool’s functionality includes managing requirements in an efficient and effective way. Few of the ALM tools in the market also have support for use cases as a subset of the requirement definition process.

This helps the team manage their requirements efficiently while keeping track of associated scenarios.

It also includes a planning and estimation phase wherein the whole project is planned out. The ALM tool is designed to adapt to any SDLC methodology, viz. Waterfall, Scrum, or Agile development technique.

Source code management is an essential requirement in product lifecycle management. It helps in keeping the working copies of the code, which are then distributed in different groups within a team.

The different groups are development teams, testers, and support teams. Integrated source code management is a really useful functionality provided by the ALM tools.

Quality Assurance

ALM tools include quality assurance as a part of software development which is one striking difference between regular project management tools and application lifecycle management tools.

ALM tools also allow the creation of test cases within separate folders.


Regular project management tools don’t offer continuous integration for the compilation of software but the latest ALM tools come with different CI server integrations.

This helps in combining the information from different sources to build information and provide visibility to every change in the build.

These tools also allow you to see code changes within each build.

Maintenance and Support

Both development and deployment have become a continuous process in an SDLC with the rapid changes in Agile methodologies.

In such scenarios, customer support saves the day by helping developers and fixers work adequately according to their requirements.

Having understood the Application Lifecycle Management, now let’s move on to the next segment, i.e., Software Development Lifecycle Management.

Here’s the entire SDLC process divided into a few stages:

Requirement collection and analysis

Requirement analysis is the first and foremost stage in the SDLC process. Lead by the senior team members, inputs are taken from all the stakeholders and domain experts in the industry.

Setting of quality assurance standards and recognizing the risks involved is also done at this stage.
This stage provides a lucid picture of the entire project and various issues and opportunities can then be anticipated.

Feasibility study

This step includes constructing a ‘Software Requirement Specification’ document, also known as the ‘SRS’ document. It consists of everything that is a requirement for designing and developing during the life cycle of the project.

There are five main types of feasibility checks, namely economic, legal, operational, technical, and schedule.


As self-explanatory as it is, this is the step where the actual designing takes place. It also includes 2 different kinds of documents, namely High-Level Design (HLD) and Low-Level Design (LLD), consisting of different characteristics.


Coding is the longest phase of the Software Development Life Cycle process. In this phase, developers, by writing the code, start building the entire system.

This process divides the tasks into a number of modules or units and assignes to numerous developers.


Like every perfectionist there is, companies also want to test the software before calling it open in the market.

The testing team begins with testing the whole system to verify if the application is abiding by the customer’s requirements.

If bugs are found in the system they are fixed by developers and then again re-tested for any discrepancies.


Only when the software testing phase is over and all the errors are eradicated from the system can the final deployment process start, based on the feedback given by the project manager.


Have you come across this situation when you switch on your laptop, PC, or smartphone, and your eye catches a notification that says ‘software upgrade’?

Well, that is what maintenance is all about. Constant bug fixing, enhancements, and upgrading to improve the current state of the software are what make up the maintenance part.

Concluding on ALM vs. SDLC:

In a nutshell, SDLC is actually a subset of the ALM process wherein ALM covers all the processes in the portfolio including SDLC. This sums up ALM vs. SDLC.

ALM is a much broader concept covering all the aspects from the inception to the retirement of the application while SDLC just focuses on the software designing part.

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