Before PLM [product lifecycle management] there was PDM [product data management].  My background precedes even PDM with EDM [engineering data management].

So, how did PLM come about?

As you might imagine, EDM was all about managing engineering information initially focused on CAD data and BOM’s [bills of materials].  Our EDM software had the ability to manage a process, so my discussions with engineering included managing ECR’s [engineering change requests].

In our quest to create a niche market for our software, we started calling it PDM.  PDM software would manage not just CAD data, BOM’s and ECR’s, but engineering requirements, work instruction packages and anything else you might think of as engineering product data.

Note: Regarding ECR’s – they could be ECO’s [engineering change orders], ECN’s [engineering change notices] or anything else that some might call them.

At the time, we were one of four companies offering PDM software.  As time passed, many other companies jumped into the market.  They all had their own different set of features.  The ‘big boys’ wanted to differentiate themselves from the smaller vendors, so they invented a new category of software called product lifecycle management.

PLM is not just about engineering information, it involves other departments.  Product Lifecycle Management begins with the documenting an idea for a product or service and follows it through all of the documentation supporting design, product [service] development, sales and support through the time your company decides to end of life the product [or service].

A key feature of PLM software is the ability to manage business processes. PLM software provides the control and visibility that enables compliance [follow procedures].

Your company may not need all of the features of PLM software, they may just want to manage their engineering information.  This solution provides them with a few of advantages: Reduced software and implementation costs; Since only engineering will use the software, the decision to select and purchase will come about much quicker; and the implementation will take far less time than a full blown PLM implementation.

However, if your company wants to manage more information than just engineering information, then a PLM solution makes more sense.  This is the old ‘pay me now or pay me later’ story – as your company grows, so do the benefits of PLM software.

Interested in learning more, drop me a note…


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