product lifecycle management (PLM)

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a systematic approach to managing the series of changes a product goes through, from its design and development to its ultimate retirement or disposal.

PLM is associated with manufacturing, but the management structure can also be used for software development and service provision. PLM is typically broken into the following stages:

  • Beginning of life (BOL) - includes new product development and design processes.
  • Middle of life (MOL) - includes collaboration with suppliers, product information management (PIM) and warranty management.
  • End of life (EOL) - includes strategies for how the products will be disposed of, discontinued or recycled.

A PLM software application can help an organization manage their product's lifecyles by providing a data warehouse for all the information that affects the product. PLM software can be used to automate the management of product-related data and integrate the data with other business processes such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). The goal of PLM is to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. PLM is considered to be an integral part of the lean production model.

This was last updated in December 2013

Next Steps

PLM and PLM software have many uses and benefits. PLM can solve a variety of issues companies experience with product design and development. Knowing when your organization needs PLM software and which features and functions of PLM systems fit your business model are first steps in getting your products designed and released efficiently.

Read this comparison of PLM systems and vendors to see which product best fits your enterprise's needs and these in-depth product overviews of the leading PLM systems: Aras Innovator, Arena PLM, Autodesk PLM 360, Dassault Systemes' ENOVIA PLM platform, Oracle PLM, PTC Windchill, SAP PLM, Siemens PLM suite and Synergis' Adept PDM.

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