Product Lifecycle Management

What is Product Lifecycle Management [PLM]?

When discussing PLM, pundits tend to go straight to PLM software, but that is not what it is.  Product lifecycle management is about managing all of the information that supports the engineering, manufacturing, sales and support of a product or service from its inception through its end of life.

Think about creating and manufacturing something like a cell phone – here is a list of some of the information you might need to manage:

  • Engineering Requirements – Product requirements gathered from your potential customer base. What do they want it to do?  How do they want it to work?
  • Marketing Requirements – What things might be needed in the product in order to sell it? What are the potential marketing trade off’s?  If you meet all of the requirements, the product may be too expensive to sell.
  • Design – Engineering will design the product based on the requirements they receive. It will likely go through several iterations through testing and approvals.
  • Approvals – Manufacturing must be able to manufacture the product. Finance must be sure that they can make a profit on the product.  Marketing must be confident that their requirements are met.
  • Manufacture – Manufacturing needs floor space, manufacturing equipment, a bill of materials, a manufacturing instruction package, parts, tools, labor, etc.
  • Testing – The product must be tested for many reasons: you don’t want the batteries to catch fire; the product needs to work as designed/planned; it must be able to be supported; etc.
  • Marketing – Marketing must prepare plans for their new product introduction. They must have sales materials like flyers, demonstrations, user guides, advertising campaigns, etc.
  • Sales – In the case of cell phones, sales must create joint marketing/sales with cell phone service providers, manage the potential channels, etc.
  • Support – Support must create detailed plans for supporting the product and be ready to go at first sale.
  • Change Management – All manufacturing companies need to have a change control procedure in place. If you do this manually, you will assign a number to the change request and gather all of the associated information needed to make that change.  Then all of these departments will get involved again for approvals.

This list isn’t intended to be comprehensive; it is intended to get you thinking about your own product information.

As big a project as this is, PLM software can make it easier to manage all of this information…

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