PLM – Not Just an Engineering Discipline

While at lunch this week with a friend, we discussed the definition of PLM.  As my followers know, I have always said that PLM is the discipline of managing the information throughout the lifecycle of a product.  However, there is more to that.

When discussing product lifecycle management, the discipline typically has an engineering focus.  Engineering needs to provide the information needed in order to manufacture a product and they need to control that information.  They need to be sure that the latest released information is what gets passed to manufacturing.

The actual lifecycle of a product

Before taking on a new product, companies will perform some analysis of the product’s lifecycle.  This exercise is not unlike risk management.  Some things to consider:

  • What will it cost to design and manufacture the new product?
  • What will be the cost of sales?
  • What price can they get for it? [best case/worst case]
  • How many do they need to sell to break even?
  • What is the demand for the product? [best case/worst case]
  • How many years can they sell it? [best case/worst case]
  • Is it in our best interest to make this product?
  • Will they make enough profit to justify the effort?

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  Does the effort make business sense?

Being a process guy, my advice would be to have a procedure in place to follow so that you make sure to cover all of the bases that are important to your company.

As I said in the beginning, product lifecycle is a discipline.  What does PLM software bring to the table?  It provides control and visibility.  It makes sure that your process is followed.  Users can quickly where product ideas are moving through the process.  They can view any documentation.  But first, they must have a product lifecycle process.

Contact me if you would like some help…


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