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Product Lifecycle Management: The Ultimate Guide

Big data is quickly taking over our society, where the Internet of Things (IoT) is present in almost every product we use. There is no denying that even the theoretical volume of data is staggering, even though many people still view IoT in a hazy and abstract manner.

The theory and software of product life cycle management (PLM) are one of the natural methods that many experts propose we manage and utilize this data. PLM has enormous potential to grow because of its capacity to assist in organizing diverse development strategies, information, and capabilities. Additionally, by doing this, all parties involved in the product’s life cycle would be able to monitor how the product is operating and being utilized immediately rather than waiting for customer feedback. This further greatly enhances product lifecycle management (PLM.)

What is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)?

The term “product lifecycle management” describes the cyclical stages of a product, from conception through retirement after conception, development, and launch. PLM combines the organization’s vision for managing and carrying out comprehensive product planning.

PLM decreases development costs and expedites the time to market faster new product development (NPD). First, however, there needs to be a procedure for each organization to handle new products, whether they are ground-breaking new goods, incremental or derivative improvements to existing products, or the next generation of platforms.

The product life cycle (PLC) is used in this new product development process to design the general format and flow of the process. A good PLM is comprehensive, controls and safeguards product data, and ensures that business processes use and expand upon the data.

PLM’s three key components are as follows:

  • Information and communication technology (ICT): This entails the fundamentally essential unified platforms and systems, including the architecture, resources, and standards.
  • The Processes: This refers to all individuals, groups, and institutions involved.
  • The Methods: These are the practices, policies, and processes.

PLM is growing as a result of the globalization of the economy. Shorter production runs new supply chain initiatives, and outsourcing necessitates businesses to have accurate and up-to-date information for manufacturing. Moreover, the internet makes it possible for swift data sharing with partners who are located far away. In addition, manufacturing specifications can be modified during production thanks to product lifecycle management (PLM.) This procedure would generally take days or weeks with siloed engineering and production divisions, mainly if the production plant were located abroad.

PLM increases your speed to market in several ways:

  • Keeping track of your changes over time
  • Keeping your company informed about product knowledge
  • Integrating the enterprise systems
  • logging the components and raw materials
  • Monitoring the production processes
  • Managing customer expectations and product intent
  • listing the physical and chemical characteristics
  • Preserving version control and history
  • Keeping track of thoughts and goods from the past, the present, and the future
  • Keeping track of changes in client needs, rules, advancements, and expenses

PLM systems also assist businesses in overcoming the engineering challenges and growing complexity of product development.

What is the Product Life Cycle?

The repeated pattern of product development, including its debut to the market, growth, maturation, and decline, is known as the product lifecycle (PLC). The product’s lifecycle varies in duration and scope for each product and runs the risk of not making it through the introduction stage.

 product management lifecycle

In a nutshell, the product lifecycle (PLC) is as follows:

Stage 1: Product Development

This is the introduction of the new product, during which all the research and development takes place.

Stage 2: Growth

The product has developed beyond an idea or a prototype at this stage. The product is now being produced, marketed, and released. Demand, distribution, and competition all rise along with these three factors. Check out the guide for demand planning.

Stage 3: Product Maturity

The popularity of a product determines more targeted marketing and future projections for product upgrades or production process modifications.

Stage 4: Decline

The product is slipping in sales or aging out of the market. As a result, the demand starts to decline once it has passed the point of highest demand.

product lifecycle management software

The progression of a product through these four stages, as well as all of the more minutely detailed procedures, including conception, engineering, design, production, sales and marketing, distribution, servicing, and disposal, is known as the product lifecycle. PLM is the management of that lifecycle, bringing together the resources (people, data, procedures, and business systems) needed to ensure the success of the company’s whole product line.

Additionally, the average selling price (ASP) is impacted by the product life cycle. The ASP is the average selling price of your goods or services. For example, the ASP will be lower if a product has plenty of rivals or is in the PLC decline stage.

The ASP is also driven by product image. The ASP of products having an image of exclusivity is greater. As an illustration, Louis Vuitton luggage is a luxury brand of items handcrafted from the best materials. As a result, there is a small selection of products, a long wait to get one, and a price point that is more than typical. Even though the business has sped up the manufacturing process, a custom bag’s price still reflects its uniqueness and time to market. Louis Vuitton raised its costs in 2013 to entice more affluent customers after declining sales. This strategy is a unique take on the PLC because, typically, prices would decline as demand decreases.

History of Product Lifecycle Management

PLM began in the aviation and automotive industry and spread to other sectors like packaged products, electronics, healthcare, and fashion. PLM developed as a result of technology advancements in product data management (PDM), computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided engineering (CAE). These developments made design and manufacturing integration possible, reducing manufacturers’ lead times and production cycles. Due to the complexity and number of steps involved in the production, it was possible to boost competition by streamlining the process and centralizing all information. Product lifecycle management is more concerned with integrating these tools with processes, people, and theory as a product moves through its lifecycle.

PLM integrates people, data, processes, and business systems to help an organization develop, market, and support its products. It was created at American Motors Corporation (AMC) to expedite the business’s product development process, particularly regarding creating the Jeep Grand Cherokee. To complete the process, AMC used computer-aided design (CAD) and put a product data management system in which all blueprints and other documentation were kept in a central database. In addition, AMC has added a new communication system to facilitate better collaboration and lessen the number of necessary engineering changes. Following the acquisition of AMC, Chrysler used PLM across the board, resulting in development costs that were half the industry standard.

A closed loop between the digital and physical worlds that follows a single set of related data as it weaves in and out of business processes and functions to enable continuity and accessibility is what software and services company PTC refers to as a “digital thread,” which modern PLM is essential to the creation of.

PLM also made mass customization feasible and enabled servitization, the practice of offering goods as services rather than merely purchasing them. The servitization paradigm changed from supporting products with services to differentiating products with services to finally becoming the product itself. Leasing a car rather than owning one, paying for document management services instead of copy machines, or airlines charging for engine hours rather than engines are a few examples of servitization. Because these high-tech services involve maintenance and repair, only trustworthy items will generate revenue. Additionally, the customer-vendor relationship deepens, and input on the product’s performance is crucial so that both the manufacturer and the business can produce better goods and render more effective services. To accomplish this, product data management must have the correct information at the right moment.

Do You Need Product Lifecycle Management?

Thanks to a PLM system, designers and engineers have immediate access to the vital data they want. The solution streamlines project management by integrating CAD (computer-aided design) data with a bill of materials, other corporate data sources, and integration with an ERP system. Furthermore, it handles this product data across the whole product development lifecycle.

PLM is not only a trendy term. It streamlines, arranges, and integrates data to provide an in-depth understanding of each manufactured good and its marketability, maximizing effectiveness and profitability in the following areas:

Design and Manufacturing Integration

Various design and manufacturing software programs may be used in a company’s production process. PLM can optimize the entire production process instantly. Valuable data might not be shared among these platforms and people without PLM.

Product Commercialization

With efficient, trustworthy data, document management, and process governance, PLM ensures that goods are prepared for worldwide distribution. In addition, teams can respond swiftly to problems as they arise, thanks to unified data and collaborative workflows throughout the enterprise.

Virtual environments that support global operations

A central product data management (PDM) repository is provided by PLM, which unifies the entire global process from concept to customer.

Accessible Data

Product life cycle management enables a closed-loop for all teams by making all product information accessible to each department, enhancing production efficiency.

Essential Elements of Product Lifecycle Management

PLM can be viewed as both (a) a central location for all data on a product and (b) a communication process between parties with interest in the product, primarily marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and field service. All product information, including that from marketing and design, first gathers in the PLM system and is later exported in a manner suited for manufacturing and support.

PLM is an umbrella phrase that some analysts use to refer to engineering CAD (for “information authoring”). However, word processors, spreadsheets, graphics software, tools for requirements research and market assessment, field trouble reports, and even emails or other correspondence are used to generate product information.

In our opinion, a PLM solution is solely concerned with managing data that spans the length of a product’s lifecycle, regardless of how that data is created. The core elements of PLM are:

  • Manages design and process documents
  • Creates and maintains records for the bill of materials (product structure)
  • Offers an electronic file repository.
  • Contains integrated and customized part and document metadata (“attributes”)
  • Determines the composition of items for environmental compliance
  • Permits task assignments with an item focus.
  • Allows for the control of workflow and process management for authorizing modifications.
  • Controls “electronic signature” and multiple-user guarded access.
  • Exports data for use by a subsequent enterprise resource planning system

The Product Life Cycle Management Stages

If there is any prospect of reducing waste, the processes must be unified because many businesses must coordinate the resources and personnel of numerous locations. Additionally, cohesion keeps the process focused on the product and increases the likelihood of its commercial success. PLM industry models come in a variety of forms today. The one below is an annotated compendium of the most effective and widely-used techniques. PLM has three main stages, to begin with:

Beginning of Life (BOL): The design and manufacturing phases, which comprise the original conceptualization and development and any prototypes built, are all part of the BOL phase. There are numerous sub-actions in the initial development phase that list all the criteria, concepts, and testing that are required. The business is required to sustain the BOL stage regardless of the production structure. Your product, complete with its specifications, production process, and supply needs, comes to life in the BOL.

Middle of Life (MOL): After manufacture, the middle-of-life phase begins during your product launch, i.e., when your product is distributed, utilized, and maintained. The customer now has your merchandise in their possession. To gather information for immediate solutions and future development, you can gather data on failures, maintenance rates, and user experience.

With a Product Information Management System, companies can derive an effective way to ensure all sales channels are receiving and displaying verified product information.

Customer satisfaction is essential to the product’s longevity and the development of subsequent iterations. Even though quality management (QMS) permeates every business activity, maintaining product success requires staying on top of quality issues in the field. Closed-loop processes that integrate customer issues, quality processes, and engineering updates help to ensure that products are well-accepted by customers and have repeatable procedures for subsequent product iterations.

End of Life (EOL): Retiring, recycling, or disposing of your product constitutes the end-of-life phase. Reverse logistics are now taking place for the business. EOL begins when customers no longer require the product. Companies are now gathering data on which components and materials are still applicable.

 software product lifecycle management

The New Product Development Process (NDP) and Product Life Cycle Management

The likelihood of a new product’s success increases when PLM principles are applied during the NPD. PLM enables data sharing with the different processes and actors for faster response times and increased collaboration. Shorter cycles and more successful products are the results, in turn.

The stage-gate model, a funnel-based method of creating new products, is used in the NPD process. When a step of the development process is finished, the product must pass through a gate approved by management before moving on to the following stage. The four primary stages of NPD are screen, development, test, and launch. A stage may be repeated more than once depending on the requirements of the developing product. Because it guarantees managers have all the information available, independent of its source, using a PLM overview speeds up innovation and improves the correctness of these stage-gate judgments.

 software product management lifecycle

NPD occurs in PLM from the early stages of a product to distribution.

product lifecycle management plm

You must consider the total costs of your goods and what your clients are willing to pay for the quality of your product when determining the price for your new offerings. Companies employ a range of costing techniques. To identify the optimal rates for your new items, you can and should create profiles for your products that include their costs throughout their lifetimes. These account for all expenses connected with:

  • Designs
  • Productions
  • Distribution
  • Services
  • Uses
  • Recycling or disposals

You can also determine your prices and the life cycle cost by using target costing. First, deduct your desired profit margin from the competitive market price, accounting for all potential cost savings. Next, the target cost is determined based on these selling prices and the required profits during the development stage. Finally, you build your product around this goal cost. Unfortunately, many industry professionals claim that target costing is still challenging for businesses today. Check out guide to create the perfect buyer persona.

Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Product Life Cycle Management

The workflow management that moves components and raw materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer, and the client are known as supply chain management (SCM). SCM encompasses all available information, materials, and financial resources. Manufacturing is included in SCM in PLM, which covers everything from the launch to distribution.

The administration of present and potential customers, their interactions with your business, and information about them and their purchases are known as customer relationship management (CRM). CRM enables you to see the bigger picture of the customer and product relationship. CRM in PLM refers to everything that occurs after the customer purchases the product, including its retirement or recycling. One great CRM software is Sloovi Outreach.

There is overlap between the three systems—SCM, CRM, and PLM process. Theoretically, because the organization becomes more unified when SCM and CRM are integrated through PLM, profitability should increase, and unnecessary costs should decrease. Not just processes management but enterprise management. Businesses that manage all of their operations smoothly and have access to data on a product’s market, purchasers, and post-production behavior have an advantage over rivals in terms of agility.

product lifecycle management agile

Integrating Areas with Product Life Cycle Management

PLM integrates into five key areas. Depending on your industry, PLM may be a standard component of your workflow or a new tool you are learning that can assist with your present tasks. Among these five areas are:

Systems Engineering (SE): SE is a system’s holistic perspective and management, from its design process to its use, administration, and retirement. People, gear, software, and information can all be included in SE. This topic also includes reliability engineering, mainly concerned with the dependability throughout the life cycle of a product.

Product Portfolio Management (PPM): PPM is the overall management of the product portfolio. It ensures that your product strategies align with your business strategies and that your resource allocation is appropriate based on the state of each project.

Product Design (CAx): This develops new products for your clientele using computer-aided technologies.

Manufacturing Process Management (MPM): By defining how you create your products, you may build your manufacturing processes to be more agile and effective.

Product Data Management (PDM): PDM manages product data inside PLM. One PDM feature is document version management.

The Best Practices, Benefits, and Challenges of PLM

When you implement PLM, following best practices will help you save time during deployment and guarantee that your business uses a standard procedure for the most outstanding results. Understanding your business is essential since PLM transforms business processes. The following are excellent practices that professionals advise considering when implementing PLM.

  • Concentrate on your client
  • Define your company’s PLM success criteria.
  • Use tested techniques
  • Set guidelines on what to do
  • Carry out risk analysis and management
  • Execute exception Management
  • Integrate your software systems.
  • Take on new products with defined goals
  • Pay attention to product quality
  • Focus on reducing product costs.
  • Establish an organization-wide framework
  • Connect your framework to your priorities
  • Utilize PLM as a tool for investment planning.
  • Assign a team to manage your PLM.
  • Specify acceptable annual revenue levels.
  • Set taxonomy and packaging requirements for products.
  • Create a process for your items’ end-of-life.

PLM’s key advantages are focused on your time, expenses, and product quality. Every firm will experience different advantages; therefore, knowing what PLM can do for your business is essential. Here is a list of potential advantages:

  • Get to the market faster
  • Increase full-price sales
  • Improved product quality and reliability
  • Reduced prototyping costs
  • Ability to quickly identify prospect sales opportunities and revenue contributions
  • Savings through the re-use of primary data
  • Maximized supply chain collaboration
  • Improved forecasting to reduce material costs
  • A more accurate and timely request for quote generation
  • A framework for product optimization
  • Reduce waste
  • Savings through the complete integration of engineering workflows
  • Seasonal fluctuation management

There will always be issues when implementing a new system, body of knowledge, or piece of software. These difficulties could include:

  • It’s challenging to keep records current when product specifications change.
  • Manufacturing and operations are not fully integrated into the PLM process.
  • The supply chain is mismanaged
  • Metrics for measuring difficulty in PLM
  • Too much time is spent on training
  • Several sources for vendor information and requirements
  • Poor handling of the product portfolio
  • Packaging challenges for sustainability

The Product Life Cycle Management Industry

Depending on the expert you consult, the PLM market generates between $25 and $30 billion annually and is expanding at a rate of roughly 10%. As a result, many businesses invest a significant amount of money—five to twenty-five percent of their annual revenue—into the PLM business process. However, some analysts claim that approximately half of this PLM spending is wasted on goods that don’t keep up with consumer trends.

Many people, especially suppliers, consider PLM a software set that directs your business’s products. However, most suppliers and consultants claim that it is ideal to implement PLM simultaneously with a PLM software system. The justification for this is that the software ensures the quality of your data, enabling you to apply efficiencies and produce goods of higher quality.

PLM software companies are currently concentrating on several different aspects. These consist of:

  • Software integration of CAD, CAM, and CAE tools into their platforms so you can go from concept through the PLM system. The tools in the software’s availability are hastening this integration process.
  • Making technologies are changing as a result of Industry 4.0. For example, cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and the shift to cloud computing are all part of Industry 4.0.
  • Vendors are becoming experts in particular businesses.
  • Better enterprise-level application integration is being pushed by SE methodologies, including PLM, CRM, and SCM.

There are tons of modern PLM software solutions vendors in the marketplace. The main ones are Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, PTC, and Siemens (although the ranks fluctuate frequently). In addition, Siemens offers Teamcenter, a suite of PLM software that the UGS Corporation originally made. It is one of the top goods available, has won numerous honors, and has communities dedicated to it.

However, experts advise starting with your business strategy and utilizing best practices and decision-making frameworks when selecting a provider.

According to some experts, crowdsourcing will be the future of PLM consulting. Your future PLM consultant will consist of hundreds or perhaps thousands of PLM specialists who conduct data analysis to see what works for them. Find the guide related to customer lifetime value.

What is Product Lifecycle Management software?

Businesses can control all of the PLC’s components and processes using product lifecycle management software. Although PLM software isn’t always necessary, having a single, centralized tool can increase management efficiency for concepts, workflows, and procedures.

The information management solution that enables you to integrate all of the data, systems, processes, workflows, and users in your business is PLM software. PLM software focuses on your product’s lifecycle, from conception to retirement. Additionally, consolidating PLM software can bring your many systems under one roof. Additionally, the program gives you access to all the data you need to make decisions based on real-time data at every point of the lifecycle of your products. A modern PLM software system can incorporate a variety of technologies, including:

  • Manufacturing operations
  • CAD
  • CAE
  • PDM
  • Engineering analytics for the future
  • Analyzing and testing
  • Computer-aided production
  • Using a finite element model

Other Life Cycles Related to Product Life Cycle Management

The following are different lifecycles and concepts that you might read about in books, blogs, or perhaps in professional conversations. Some are closely tied to PLM, while others are less so.

The Pyramid of Production Systems

Behnam Malakooti claims that there are five primary goals for production. Productivity, price, quality, adaptability, and sustainability are a few. The most effective of these ideas result in the height of production. These are shown as a pyramid, with various combinations of goals rising the pyramid, the best of these five goals at the top and the lowest at the bottom. He claims that this pyramid’s top is unrealistic.

 plm product lifecycle management

Project Life Cycle

Although it may be used for any project, the project life cycle in a manufacturing context is more focused on the things you’re producing. Therefore, the forces for internal change are these. The steps are commencement (including determining whether a product is possible), planning (including development), execution (including testing), and closing (including the launch and production illustration request (PIR)).

 product lifecycle management tool

Final Thoughts

When every team member uses PLM consistently, it works best. To find areas for improvement, PLM systems should enable businesses to manage numerous product phases and obtain visibility into their workflows.

When your systems are centrally coordinated, the PLM process is at its most effective. Since most firms employ many highly competent individuals, having too many processes may not be beneficial or even necessary. You have various opportunities to collaborate with others using PLM to improve this significantly.

Using Sloovi Outreach as a preferred CRM tool is a plus to your SCM and PLM solution. The software allows you to focus on metrics that matter, track sales stages, win sales in less time, and follow up on leads.

 product lifecycle management system

Sloovi Outreach is the modern sales engagement tool for your company. You need a CRM tool like Sloovi Outreach to manage your product lifecycle.

Click here to begin your journey to more sales with Sloovi Outreach.