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2014/03/04

An Introduction to Product Life Cycle Management (PLM)

Successful companies focus on core competencies to produce truly valuable products and services. Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) helps manufacturing, as well as architecture, engineering and construction firms to manage product design and production details in order to achieve just that. 

Product Life Cycle Management
Product Life Cycle Management - Cycle Components
But what does a PLM system actually do, and what should it include? 

By integrating people, data, processes and business systems, a PLM system provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise in order to unite business processes and solve varying business needs.

In general, PLM refers to the upfront parts of the product cycle - the management of CAD, product design data, documentation and BOMs as well as integrated product and project management. In an Aberdeen survey in 2012, respondents denoted which capabilities should be part of an integrated PLM solution -  the top five can be seen in Table I. 


In essence, an effective PLM needs the capabilities that can centralize product data and manage the related workflows. 

Benefits of PLM Software

The traditional benefits of PLM software focus around time, cost and quality, and as a result has significant impact on internal (improving use of cost-center resources like core R&D, engineering, prototypes, and samples), supplier-facing (enhancing the ability to purchase materials, parts, and customer services) and customer-facing (increased knowledge for product characteristics and development) operational efficiency.

Potential business benefits include: 
  • Greater visibility to critical information
  • More efficient business processes
  • Improved supplier collaboration
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Improved compliance to industry standards
  • Higher product quality 
  • Faster response to market dynamics
  • Improved program and project visibility
  • Reduced waste
  • Greater component reuse


Overall, when deciding whether or not to adapt a PLM solution, it is important to assess business objectives that highlight the 'pains' or needs that you desire to solve with a PLM system.

Sources: 
Autodesk PLM 360 | erpguru.com/products/autodesk-plm-360
Product Life Cycle Management | www.product-lifecycle-management.info
Engineering.com | www.engineering.com

ERP Guru is an official Autodesk PLM 360 Advisor and NetSuite Solutions Provider with offices in Canada and the USA. 

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