Ultimate Guide to Product Lifecycle Management
Ultimate Guide to Product Lifecycle Management

Ultimate Guide to Product Lifecycle Management

Yash Jha
Yash Jha
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a critical aspect of modern manufacturing. However, according to research by The Interline, over 80% of companies worldwide have not yet fully embraced Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

Many businesses have still not migrated from Excel spreadsheets to ERP software with PLM integrations. They still use outdated PDM systems, and manual processes. These disconnected systems often lack key features like supplier collaboration, costing, and planning. The result? Fragmented processes and siloed data that hinder efficiency and growth.

They need to recognize the need for a modern, integrated approach to managing product development and sourcing. A product lifecycle management is what solves it. Let’s get a deeper understanding of these systems in this blog.

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What is Product Lifecycle Management?

Before learning about product lifecycle management, we need to understand the product lifecycle. So, what is product lifecycle?

A product lifecycle is the journey a product takes from the moment it's created until it's no longer sold. It's like the life story of a product. This journey has different stages:

  1. Development: This is when the product is first thought of and made.
  2. Introduction: This is when the product is first sold to people.
  3. Growth: This is when lots of people start buying the product and sales go up quickly.
  4. Maturity: This is when the product is selling well, but sales aren't growing as fast anymore.
  5. Decline: This is when fewer people want to buy the product, and sales start to go down.

Some examples of products that go through this lifecycle are consumer electronics, cars, trendy clothes, software and even TV shows like Stranger Things!

Now, what is product lifecycle management (PLM)? Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a way for companies to manage a product through all these stages. It helps different teams in a company work together and share information about the product.

With PLM, businesses can make better decisions about their products from start to finish. This results in better products and happy customers.

What are the Stages of Product Lifecycle Management?

PLM is all about managing a product from the moment someone thinks of the idea until it's not sold anymore. There are essentially six stages in the process of product lifecycle management:

1. Idea

This is when people in the company come up with new ideas for a product. They think about what the product will do, who will use it, and what makes it special. They also figure out if the idea is actually possible to make and if people will want to buy it.

2. Development

In this stage, the team starts to make more detailed plans for the product. Designers create drawings and 3D models of what the product will look like. Engineers figure out what materials to use and how the product will work.

3. Production

This is when the company starts to actually make the product. They use the designs from the previous stage to create the real thing. They might make a few prototypes first to make sure everything works well. If there are any problems, they fix them and proceed to the next stage.

4. Growth

Once the product is ready, it's time to start selling it. The company decides how much to sell it for and where to sell it. They also come up with ways to let people know about the new product, like ads or social media posts.

5. Support

After the product is sold, the company needs to help people who buy it. This means answering questions, fixing any issues, and sometimes making updates or improvements to the product based on what customers say.

6. Decline

Eventually, the company might decide to stop selling the product. This could be because they have a newer, better version or because not enough people are buying it anymore. They make a plan for how to stop making and selling the product.

How does a PLM System Work?

PLM streamlines product development by providing a centralized repository for all the product information. It includes CAD designs, BOM specifications, and project timelines. This allows engineers, designers, and other team members to easily access and share critical information.

PLM enables concurrent engineering by allowing multiple users to work on the same CAD models simultaneously, with real-time updates and version control. This helps to identify and resolve design conflicts early, minimizing costly rework. The system also manages BOM data, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest product configurations and supplier information.

By tracking all changes made to the product data, PLM creates a clear audit trail, making it easier to identify and resolve issues, maintain compliance, and support better decision-making throughout the product lifecycle.

What are the Elements of a Modern and Effective PLM?

The goal of product lifecycle management (PLM) is to address the growing complexity of product development. Modern PLM systems are becoming more interconnected and customer-centric. They are also more adaptable and powered by data analytics.

This transformation helps companies streamline their product development processes. It enables businesses to maintain a competitive edge in their respective markets.

Here are the elements of modern PLM:

  • Integrating data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to enable predictive maintenance and inform design improvements
  • Creating digital twins of products for comprehensive testing and refinement before physical prototyping
  • Leveraging AI to analyze customer feedback and align product development with market demands
  • Accommodating flexible manufacturing processes to quickly respond to evolving customer needs
  • Ensuring compliance with stringent regulations, particularly in industries such as medical devices
  • Delivering real-time product insights to support data-driven decision-making

By adopting these modern PLM capabilities, companies can optimize their product development efforts. They can reduce costs, accelerate time-to-market, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Why do companies need PLM?

Let’s say you are a product manager at an electronics company. You're responsible for overseeing the development of a new smartphone model from concept to launch. This is how you will face challenges without a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system:

  • You will struggle with scattered design files, specifications, and BOMs across different departments, leading to inconsistencies and errors.
  • You will find collaboration between teams difficult. This will result in delays and miscommunications.
  • You will spend countless hours manually tracking progress, managing changes, and ensuring compliance with regulations.

But with a PLM system in place, you can centralize all product data, making it easily accessible. It will enable cross-functional teams to collaborate seamlessly and make decisions faster.

You streamline the development process, efficiently managing tasks, timelines, and resources. You track changes and ensure compliance. PLM helps you bring the smartphone to market faster, at lower costs, and with improved quality.

What are the Benefits of Product Lifecycle Management?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems provide a centralized platform for collaboration and data sharing, This enables cross-functional teams to work together seamlessly, reducing time-to-market and minimizing delays.

PLM also helps companies optimize their resources and reduce costs associated with product development by automating key processes. This minimizes errors and rework, and identifies opportunities for parts reuse and standardization.

Additionally, PLM improves product quality by establishing and maintaining strict quality control measures throughout the product lifecycle, ensuring compliance with industry regulations and quality standards.

PLM also empowers companies to drive innovation by providing valuable insights and data-driven decision-making capabilities. This helps them stay ahead of the curve and maintain a strong market position.

The key benefits of PLM include:

  • Reduced time-to-market through seamless collaboration and data sharing
  • Cost savings via resource optimization, process automation, and parts reuse
  • Improved product quality through strict quality control measures and compliance
  • Enhanced innovation by leveraging data-driven insights and decision-making capabilities
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What are the Challenges in implementing Product Lifecycle Management?

For manufacturing companies, PLM is a transformative approach that is involved in every stage of a product's life, from the initial concept to the product’s retirement. While PLM can bring significant benefits, the path to success isn't always smooth.

Integrating PLM with existing systems can be a complex and time-consuming process. This is because it requires connecting PLM to various current systems and migrating data from legacy systems while maintaining accuracy and consistency.

PLM implementation often necessitates changes to established processes and workflows, which can be met with resistance from employees accustomed to their current ways of working. Moreover, customizing off-the-shelf PLM solutions to fit a company's unique needs can lead to additional costs and delays in the implementation timeline.

Here are the main challenges:

  • System integration complexity
  • Data migration difficulties
  • Change management and user adoption
  • Customization requirements
  • Cost and time overruns

How to Measure and Evaluate the Success of Your Product Lifecycle Management?

When you're trying to figure out if your PLM system is working well, it's important to keep track of a few key things. These will help you see if PLM is doing what it's supposed to do and if it's helping your company reach its goals.

Here are the five most important metrics and performance indicators to watch:

  1. Time-to-market: Has PLM helped reduce the time it takes to bring a product from idea to launch? If it's taking less time than before, that's a good sign that PLM is working well. It means you can get your products to customers faster and stay ahead of the competition.
  2. Product Development Cost: Check if PLM has helped lower the costs of designing, testing, and making the product. Are you spending less money on these things than before? If so, it shows that PLM is helping you be more efficient and save money.
  3. Product Quality: Look at customer complaints and returns to see if PLM is helping make better quality products. Are you getting fewer complaints and returns? If yes, it means your products are better quality and customers are happier. This can help your company's reputation and bottom line.
  4. Collaboration Efficiency: See how well teams are working together using PLM. Can they share information and make decisions more easily now? If teams can work together better and get things done faster with PLM, it means the system is doing its job.
  5. Return on Investment (ROI): Compare the benefits of PLM (like cost savings) against the costs of setting it up and maintaining it. Are the benefits greater than the costs? If yes, the return on investment is positive. and PLM is a good investment for your company.

How to Achieve Successful PLM with Integrated ERP using Deskera ERP?

Deskera ERP offers an integrated PLM within its system. This all-in-one system allows businesses to manage the entire product lifecycle on a single platform.

These are the benefits you get when you opt for Deskera ERP:

  • Centralized product data management
  • Streamlined BOMs and change management
  • Automated manufacturing and production workflows
  • Integrated compliance management
  • Robust inventory and order management
  • Accurate costing and profitability analysis
  • Powerful business intelligence tools

With Deskera, manufacturers and product managers can accelerate product development rapidly.

They can optimize production, ensure quality, and make informed business decisions - all on a modern, scalable, and secure cloud platform.

Schedule a call with us today!

Key Takeaways

To sum up, here are the key takeaways from this blog on product lifecycle management:

  • PLM manages a product's entire lifecycle from conception to retirement
  • PLM works through set processes and tools to optimize each product stage
  • Typical product lifecycle stages are development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline
  • PLM systems provide product data management, change control, collaboration, automation, and analytics
  • Modern PLM elements include IoT, digital twins, customer-centricity, flexible production, compliance, and analytics
  • Companies need PLM to innovate, reduce costs, improve quality, ensure compliance, and make data-driven decisions
  • PLM benefits include faster time-to-market, higher margins, better quality, and enhanced compliance
  • PLM challenges include poor strategy, user resistance, data quality, integration, costs, and lack of leadership
  • PLM success is measured through KPIs like time-to-market, costs, quality, compliance, and profitability
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