What is Product Lifecycle Management?

  • Oct 29, 2020
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What is Product Lifecycle Management?

Using Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software has become an integral part of nearly every enterprise in today’s business landscape, but it can be a complex subject to grasp because PLM works to accomplish a number of things. Primarily, Product Lifecycle Management programs are used to store massive amounts of data on a company’s inner workings, including workflows and processes across the business from engineering to sales. PLM exists to oversee a product from its very beginnings through its eventual disposal with this stored data. It is intended to track and follow a product through every stage of the process from the initial design and engineering to market launch and the product’s eventual sunset. 

It is a costly investment that most small businesses can not afford, which is why enterprise companies are at a great advantage with the capacity to use this type of software. In order to truly understand what PLM is, you need to understand its inception. 

The Invention of PLM 

Although PLM is now used mainly by big-name corporations, it was actually created in the ’80s by a minor automobile company called American Motors Corporation (AMC) as a way to speed up innovation and compete with more mainstream companies like Ford and GMC. AMC wanted to create a management system that would extend the life of their products—an SUV model you might recognize called the Jeep Grand Cherokee—and make the production process more efficient to save money and boost sales. 

Through computer aided design (CAD), a central database, and improved means of communication, AMC developed the first example of PLM. Over time, other companies recognized the value in using a program to track their products and find ways to improve their overall processes, making it a common practice. 

PLM Software in Today’s World 

PLM focuses on collaboration and identification of processes that need improvement outside design and engineering efforts. This allows companies to make their production process more efficient, resulting in lower overhead, increased productivity, and opportunities for innovation. PLM is a method for identifying areas of incremental innovation specifically, which can help gradually improve the company’s overall performance and business strategies through small changes. 

Over the last several decades, PLM’s role in business has evolved to encompass different aspects of the company like customer service, marketing strategies, and sales approaches with the goal of improving many aspects of the business. Both PLM and PDM (product development management) are often implemented in the early stages of New Product Introduction (NPI), which encompasses stages from product design through market introduction. 

Cloud Based PLM 

 The greatest advantage of cloud-based data storage is that the information can be accessed via the internet on any device; it doesn’t necessarily have to be information stored on the local server, making data much more easily accessible.  

Cloud based PLM software only deviates from its first generation version because it’s stored in one centralized database that exists through the internet, again making it easy to access data from one source anywhere in the world. Cloud based solutions are able to more accurately track data and product or company changes as they happen in real time. 

What Does PLM Do for Your Business? 

  • Improved Efficiency: Thanks to cloud based PLM software, companies are able to track and view changes as they occur, giving you the advantage of reacting and altering products or processes based on this information as soon as possible. PLM can also draw attention to areas of the business where processes can be simplified. 
  • Better Product Development: Analyzing your product from its inception to its disposal reveals ways in which you can build upon the original product, improving its service and use as necessary. It also helps identify when a product may reach a point of being obsolete. 
  • Reduced Costs: Through improved efficiency in certain areas of your production, you can lower your overall costs by recognizing areas that may benefit from automation over manual implementation. 
  • Increased Productivity: One of the main goals of PLM is to increase productivity through shorter productive development cycles and increased efficiency. 
  • Product Improvements: If you’re looking for areas to implement incremental innovation through PLM, this type of software will highlight ways in which to improve upon a current product, boosting sales and customer satisfaction. 

The Takeaway: 

Operating without a PLM software in place is detrimental to your business because you’re missing out on opportunities to evaluate and track your business’s growth and success. With cloud based PLM, it’s easier than ever to view and analyze your data in real time, helping you implement necessary changes as soon as possible and leading your company into the future.

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