PLM is a strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions in support of the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information across the extended enterprise, and spanning from product concept to end of life-integrating people, processes, business systems, and information. PLM forms the product information backbone for a company and its extended enterprise." 

The core of PLM (product life cycle management) is in the creations and central management of all product data and the technology used to access this information and knowledge. PLM as a discipline emerged from tools such as CAD, CAM and PDM, but can be viewed as the integration of these tools with methods, people and the processes through all stages of a pro duct's life.

"It is important to note that PLM is not a definition of a piece, or pieces, of technology. It is a definition of a business approach to solving the problem of managing the complete set of product definition information-creating that information, managing it through its life, and disseminating and using it throughout the lifecycle of the product. PLM is not just a technology, but is an approach in which processes are as important, or more important than data." 

The Function of PLM

PLM Software can do a lot. It can streamline product development processes, enhance productivity and create a more effective environment for deploying, implementing and achieving strategic business initiatives. Following are some key aspects of PLM, provided by Product Lifecycle Management.

  • Manage design and process documents
  • Construct and control bill of material (product structure) records
  • Provide an electronic file repository
  • Include built-in and custom part and document metadata ("attributes")
  • Identify materials content for environmental compliance
  • Permit item-focused task assignments
  • Enable workflow and process management for approving changes
  • Control multi-user secured access, including "electronic signature"
  • Export data for downstream ERP systems

Benefits of PLM Software

PLM Software supports the product development process, integrating people, data, processes and business systems and providing a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise. The benefits of PLM software focus around time, cost and quality. These benefits include:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Improved cycle times
  • Fewer Errors
  • Less scrap & rework
  • Greater productivity
  • Greater Design efficiency
  • Better product quality
  • Decreased cost of new product introduction
  • Insight into critical processes