What Is Product Lifecycle Management?

As a business owner, understanding product lifecycle management is essential to your success! This guide will cover everything you need to know about PLM – from what it is and how the process works to the best tools to get the job done.

Defining PLM

Let’s start by defining PLM, or product lifecycle management. This term refers to the processes needed to manage the design, development, sales, and service of your products.

In other words, it’s how you go from an idea to a final product – and move it into the market. It requires you to have the right systems and solutions in place to manage data and tie these different segments together.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is an overarching process and strategy that small businesses need to start using.

Similarly, you need to build processes around those platforms that help you leverage the skills of all the people and teams involved. When you do this right, you can speed up your time to market – and lower your overall cost of development.

product lifecycle

Your goal for PLM should be to have a company-wide process that secures your product data and builds on it, to maximize efficiency and effectiveness at each stage of the product lifecycle.

Why is Product Lifecycle Management Important?

product lifecycle, What Is Product Lifecycle Management?, Peterman Design Firm

While you probably have a few ideas already, let’s dive into why product lifecycle management is so important.

For starters, PLM helps you address the issues that come up outside of the design and manufacturing stages. Product development and deployment don’t exist in a silo and this process helps you integrate key resources and align efforts across your organization.

That means that product lifecycle management brings together your sales and marketing teams, customer service, and even your suppliers!

Here are some more reasons you need PLM:

Commercializing your Product

With the right PLM person or team, commercializing your product will be smoother and more efficient.

As you prepare to launch a product into the market, your workflows must be consistent across the company. PLM ensures that your data is effective and reliable, so your rollout can go smoothly.

product lifecycle, What Is Product Lifecycle Management?, Peterman Design Firm

For example, if your marketing team is looped in when a new product is designed, they will have an easier time sharing its value proposition.

Improving access to Data

product lifecycle, What Is Product Lifecycle Management?, Peterman Design Firm

Good PLM will produce more useful data to ensure the next product launch is better, and the current product can be managed well.

If you take anything away from how valuable PLM is, let it be this – it significantly improves your organization’s access to data. Product lifecycle management boosts efficiency by allowing every department to easily access the data they need.

Simply put, it creates a closed-loop environment that boasts data integrity and availability!

Integrating Manufacturing and Design

Another benefit of PLM is that it allows you to integrate product manufacturing and design. By optimizing your processes in real-time, you can eliminate bottlenecks and reduce the risk of miscommunication.

Understanding the Product Lifecycle Management Process

PLM can be defined a little differently depending on your company and product needs.

It’s not just important for business owners to be able to define PLM – you also need to have a thorough understanding of the process to implement it successfully.

So, how does product lifecycle management fit into other areas of operation, like development?

product lifecycle

The key is that this process lets you bring your products to life by moving them through these stages:

Product Design

When you have an idea for a new product, the first thing you need to work on is the design. Here, PLM plays a vital role by allowing you to adapt the design as you test the product.

It allows you to manage design, simulation, and engineering simultaneously – so you can expedite this process. Any lost time during the design phase can eat into your profit margin – which means implementing PLM can boost your bottom line.

If your company engages in the engineer-to-order process, your customers need to be involved each step of the way. Product lifecycle management makes this easy and gives them a single solution for accessing design specs, product reviews, and sales data.


product lifecycle

Your PLM person or team should be part of your production planning and management.

Once you have a design locked in, you can move into production. PLM can not only speed this process up, but it can also reduce your overall production and development costs.

It can accomplish this by enhancing your ability to manage changes, expenses, and suppliers. With tools like version control and automatic workflow processing, you can track changes and adjust your production as needed.

Once you have a design locked in, you can move into production. PLM can not only speed this process up, but it can also reduce your overall production and development costs.

It can accomplish this by enhancing your ability to manage changes, expenses, and suppliers. With tools like version control and automatic workflow processing, you can track changes and adjust your production as needed.

Product Distribution and Service

Now that you have a final product, it is time to get it out into the market! To do this successfully, you need to ensure that all sales channels display the right product details. This will avoid errors with pricing, SKUs, and pricing attributes.

Product lifecycle management creates a single database for this data – so everyone from engineering to sales and marketing is using the right information. Remember that they need this data to distribute images, product manuals, and other essential content!

Note that the PLM process doesn’t end at distribution. It carries through to service, as customer satisfaction is essential for keeping your product relevant and preparing for the next version. As a result, PLM tools help you bring together quality processes and engineering.

PLM Tools

You may be wondering; what tools are used for product lifecycle management?

This software needs to be versatile since it must accomplish tasks at every stage of the product lifecycle. The right technology will integrate the following:

  • CAD tools
  • Computer-aided manufacturing
  • Predictive analytics
  • Finite element analysis
  • Workflow processing

Although the systems can be diverse, they all specialize in consolidating platforms and allowing you to make real-time decisions at each stage. For instance, concurrent engineering workflow design lets you perform tasks in parallel saving you valuable time and money

The Cost of Product Lifecycle Management

The cost of PLM and the software needed is not typically cheap, however it is an investment because it will save time, money, and help produce better products.

Although PLM systems can help you reduce costs, there will be expenses associated with setting up the platform and maintaining it.

If you choose to install the software locally, you will need to purchase it outright. This will require a significant investment upfrontand it will vary based on how many users and included features the system must support.

product lifecycle

At a minimum, you can expect to spend about $80 per user – per month. That means if you have 50 users, your monthly cost will be about $4,000, which totals $48,000 annually.

Take caution when looking at advertisements for surprisingly low monthly fees, though. Instead, look for the tools that will help you improve your product design, development, and deployment processes.

What Provides the Best PLM?

Finding the right product lifecycle management depends on your needs, but there are a few things that all the best PLM systems do. This includes having robust change management features, quality control tools, strict version control, and analytics capabilities.

So, how do you narrow down the tons of options available on the market? Rather than spending hours on Google, try looking at Design Directory as a starting point.

Better yet, reach out to us at Peterman Design Firm. We can help you implement best practices in product lifecycle management and ensure you have a streamlined and effective process. Our goal is to get you the right PLM tools for your needs while staying within budget.

Contact us today to learn more!


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