Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software

Product lifecycle management (PLM) software helps businesses to improve the overall quality of their products. All data associated with a particular product, such as concept art, manufacturing requirements, or sales and distribution plans, can be automatically centralized and organized by the PLM solution. This benefits the user through rapidly providing accurate production data, boosting both productivity and profitability within the business.  Read the full software guide...

Load 20 More Products...

Get A Custom Shortlist

What is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software?

Product lifecycle management (PLM) software allows businesses to manage and streamline every aspect of the product development process, from conception all the way to completion and retirement.

PLM software solutions allow for enterprise-wide collaboration with everyone involved in the product design and development process, from the engineering side to the supply chain, manufacturing and quality assurance. With everyone on the same page at every step of the way, working from a centralized platform, companies can bring higher quality products to market at a much quicker pace. This also means the time to market for the more complex products will be much shorter, without really sacrificing quality.

Product lifecycle management software automates a variety of tasks in the product development process. The PLM solution connects all relevant data, business processes, personnel, teams and departments throughout the entire product lifecycle via a centralized repository. With a PLM system, everyone from the concept design department to the end user can share up-to-date information about the product. The software is designed to bring together stakeholders, including manufacturing, the quality management team, procurement, sales and marketing, as well as the engineering team.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) software is tailored to help make new product development processes easier and much more efficient, which includes activities and collaboration analyses, regulatory compliance, requirements management, cost calculation, range optimization, change management, product introduction and time to market improvements. The PLM solution helps enterprises avoid costly and time-consuming errors, can boost innovation and allows companies to meet deadlines on time.

PLM software solutions are typically used in conjunction with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which allow for more efficient management of relevant business systems and processes. This will help improve the optimization process and strategic decision-making. Businesses and organizations in various industries, including IT, transportation, consumer electronics, science and tech, software development, website design, etc. can benefit from product lifecycle management software.

Types of Product Lifecycle Management Software

There are several types of product lifecycle management software designed to facilitate the needs of businesses and organizations in more ways than one. To make sure you get the most out of your PLM solution, you have to know each type and see which one is the most suitable solution for your product development requirements. There are three main types of PLM system: the standalone PLM modules, the best-of-breed cloud PLM software and the ERP integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) software.

The standalone PLM software modules

Any individual who manages engineering-related projects or has experienced working on the engineering side of product development has used some kind of standalone PLM module, or at the very least they are familiar with it. These are software solutions like computer aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE) and other available modules that can be implemented to help manage product development, product design, manufacturing, quality assurance and other related business processes and tasks.

Best-of-breed PLM applications

This category of product lifecycle management software refers to web-based PLM applications, otherwise referred to as cloud PLM, that are provided by online software vendors. This particular PLM solution is specifically designed and marketed for product lifecycle management. While there are certainly on-premise PLM software solutions available on the market, the majority of the best-of-breed applications are cloud-based and follow a subscription-based pricing structure.

Software providers and vendors offer a suite of different PLM modules that are tailor-made for product development and management at every stage in the product’s lifecycle. Customer businesses will only have to choose a subscription plan that suits their budget and requirements. They may also pick and choose which modules they want to add in their current package for extra charge.

This type of product lifecycle management (PLM) software is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as large enterprises looking to minimize costs. Free trials are often available to potential buyers looking to test out the vendor’s product and everything it has to offer.

PLM solutions for ERP

As previously stated, most organizations use product lifecycle management software in conjunction with ERP and other business systems. So, it’s no surprise that many enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors also offer an integrated PLM system to go along with their software product.

Some ERP vendors will not have a dedicated PLM solution offered as an added module. Instead, their ERP system itself will contain a number of features that are relevant to the product lifecycle management process, including product quality management and requirements management for more complex products and other company projects. PLM software from ERP vendors are ideal for larger enterprises that rely on ERP systems for their business processes, but also need the functionality of a good PLM software solution.

How to Choose Product Lifecycle Management Software

When trying to evaluate different product lifecycle management (PLM) software products, there are several key considerations you have to keep in mind. These are:

The speed and ease of implementation

The process of implementation of any kind of business systems should not take that much effort or time to complete. A typical software implementation process normally includes the installation of new software and/or other applications, training employees and other intended users of the software and integrating the software solution into existing business processes and daily workflows. All of these shouldn’t take any longer than they should in order to start benefiting from the PLM solution.

It is crucial that when assessing PLM software products, you should always examine how they will be implemented into your current operation. Will the implementation process take hours, days, or even weeks? How much do you and your team have to change in your current workflow to accommodate for the new PLM system? It is for this reason that most companies often go with web-based software products, since they are often easier to implement and require little to no user training.

The ease-of-use

Once you’ve established the speed and ease of implementation, the next aspect you need to determine is the ease-of-use. How easy is the PLM solution to use and operate? Does it require special training or not? How easy is it to navigate? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask when assessing different product lifecycle management software products.

Here’s the thing. If the PLM system is difficult to use or navigate through, users may take some time to get familiarized with the solution. That’s okay. The problem is when learning to use the product takes longer than expected and it becomes more of a burden than a benefit to the end user. They may end up refusing to use the PLM solution all together. The unfortunate result is you end up paying for something that no one in your organization wants to use.

The software accessibility and flexibility

Having the ability to organize tasks and workflows, communicate and share them with colleagues across different teams, departments or even with business partners in other companies is one of the biggest advantages of using product lifecycle management (PLM) software. With accessibility and flexibility in mind, you have to find a PLM solution that provides users with easy access to their co-workers and every other team they work and collaborate with. The software has to be flexible enough to allow easy access to resources and communication channels.

The third-party system integration

If you’re one of the many businesses and organizations that already use at least one form of software system for product design and development, then you may want to consider finding a PLM solution that supports third-party system integration. A good product lifecycle management software solution should be able to seamlessly integrate with third-party business systems, especially those that are often used by organizations across different industries.

A few good examples of software solutions that you might want to integrate with your new PLM system include document management software, quality management tools, product requirements management systems, supply chain management solutions, etc.

Benefits of Product Lifecycle Management Software

Produce lifecycle management software offers a wide variety of benefits, especially when it’s implemented in the right way. A PLM solution’s main purpose is to centralize all the production information and design processes in order to improve key aspects of the product development process, including operational efficiency, productivity and ultimately, revenue. This applies to every stage of production, from conception to product design, manufacturing, quality assurance, product introduction, sale, after-sale, retirement and disposal.

More efficient production process

By implementing the right PLM solution, users will be able to easily communicate in real time with the other members of their team as well as with other stakeholders and share product design ideas, resources and other pertinent information. A good PLM system can help create definitive, automatic production processes and initiatives for product development, design, manufacturing and disposal.

Quicker and more accurate production

With product lifecycle management (PLM) software, you can utilize computer-aided design (CAD) to help expedite the design creation process and keep cost at minimum. You may also use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) functionality which manages engineering and machining processes in order to manufacture good quality products quickly and more accurately, i.e. not deviating from the original design specs during the machining stage.

Centralized data repository

Product lifecycle management software helps make sure all the necessary information, production documents, compliance records and other files relevant to manufacturing business processes are stored a secure yet accessible location. Accessible only to authorized personnel, teams and departments, obviously.

Common Features of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

API Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.
Budgeting Planning and tracking capabilities for financial budgets and plans often used to manage funds across different departments or for investor / shareholder oversight.
Calendar Management Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.
Collaboration Support In-application functionality to enable project collaboration between 2 or more parties.
Customer Management Manage customer databases and/or track outstanding shipments, payments and more.
Dashboard Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.
Data Export Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.
Data Import Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.
Data Visualization Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.
Expense Tracking Track employee travel and other expenses to stay on top of budgeting requirements and reimbursements.
External Integrations Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.
Forecasting Forecast upcoming expenses, sales, revenue, user levels, etc. through the use of predictive methods and past data.
Gantt Charts A particular type of flowchart using horizontal bars to illustrate time intervals. Mainly used to visualise the use of resources or duration of tasks over the course of a project.
Inventory Tracking Stay on top of inventory levels, to manage the storing, reordering or production of stock items.
Multi-User Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.
Notifications Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.
Prioritization Allows users to weight and score tasks on the basis of their importance.
Product Catalog Allows for the digital catalogization of large amounts of products.
Project Management Manage projects from conception through the planning stage to delivery and post-project reporting phases. This allows organisation teams to organise resources, plan budgets and improve efficiency in the delivery of project objectives.
Resource Management Manage company's internal and external resources efficiently.
Roadmapping Create a visual plan or overview of a project's goals and deliverables.
Scheduling Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.
Supplier Management Manage suppliers and purchases required in the day-to-day operation of a business.
Task Scheduling/Tracking Schedule and track tasks and deliverables in form of to-do-lists.
Third-Party Plugins/Add-Ons Offers additional features or integrations built by third-party developers in form of plugins or add-ons.

Latest User Reviews of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Products

Joel Ifill
06 Mar 2019
"PLM For 21st Century"

Duro bridges the gap from informal and spreadsheet based product tracking to unweildly and arduous enterprise ERP or PLM systems. It...

Paul Katz
08 Mar 2019
"Duro is onto something"

Simplicity and Ease of use. It doesn't take a lot of effort to get the entire team up to speed and using product which is the prima...

Roberto Herran
19 Mar 2019
"A great value for product data control"

If you know about managing product manufacturing and the complexities of handling BOM's, AVL, ECO, etc, you know how difficult is to...

jean anderson
12 Feb 2021
"Lots of power under the hood"

We reviewed about six 3PL platforms and FORT and one other came out on top in terms of functionality. FORT was about 3 times less e...

Back to top