What is PLM?

The definition of PLM [product lifecycle management] seems to be moving away from ‘product lifecycle’.

The evolution of PLM began with engineering data management.  Engineering data management evolved into PDM [product data management] and then the software vendors wanted to move out of engineering into other departments within companies so they created PLM.

Early engineering data management software could manage CAD files and their associated bills of materials.  Over time workflow functionality was added.  The main driver for this addition was the ability to manage engineering change requests.

I started years ago selling engineering data management software that happened to have workflow capabilities.  In today’s nomenclature, it was PLM software.  Even then, we knew that it could manage any kind of files and that those files could be governed by the workflow defined.  However, the real need was in engineering.  I sold the software to many aerospace and defense companies.  They usually had a huge number of files to manage and managing the engineering change process was essential.

There are other departments where the functionality of PLM can be really helpful.

A good example is NPI [new product introduction].  Many departments are involved: marketing, engineering, manufacturing, finance and support.  Each of these departments creates a variety of information that needs input and approval from a number of people.  They all follow a process – either formal or informal.

An example that is not product oriented would be employee on-boarding and off-boarding.  The process is at least semi-formal and involves a number of people.  There are activities that need to be performed in either case and software with workflow can make managing these activities much easier.

So, the definition of PLM is morphing.  When someone talks about PLM, they may not be thinking about product.

Your thoughts…

When you think of PLM, is product in your definition?


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