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6 Things You Need to Know About PLM Software

As companies look to improve their product offerings, refine supply chains and scale their business, a PLM system is one of the best tools to achieve these goals. 

Written by John Abbasi

Supply Demand Chain Executive logo Surefront

Across a variety of industries, there’s a growing interest in product lifecycle management (PLM) software and its benefits. As companies look to improve their product offerings, refine supply chains and scale their business, a PLM system is one of the best tools to achieve these goals.

Here are the six most important things you need to know about PLM software, why it’s important and more.

What is PLM?

PLM is a process by which organizations take a product from creative inception and development all the way to end of life and phasing out. PLM software facilitates this process by integrating data, workflows and systems across a chain of key stakeholders.

A great PLM system should consider everything within these 4 phases of a product's lifecycle -- concept, design, production and distribution. Along the way, your organization should be setting goals and KPIs for each step in the process and workflows for the stakeholders. The best PLM software will allow you to collaborate with external vendors and suppliers and integrate important data from their end as you assess each step in your process.

Key elements within the 4 phases of PLM include:

  • Design
  • Product development
  • Buying
  • Production
  • Finance
  • Logistics
  • Sales channels
  • Management

As your organization goes through each of these stages, you should be collecting and entering data into your PLM system. The best software will help you streamline the process and allow you to eliminate tedious data re-entry. Meaning that your PLM software should certainly integrate with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Expected results with PLM software include:

  • Lower product costs
  • Greater product quality
  • Faster time to market

Lower product costs. As PLM is an iterative process that your organization should refine with each cycle, one of the goals should be to lower production costs. This may seem intuitive for any organization that engages in product development, but it’s important to point out that great PLM software should push toward a more refined supply chain along with a streamlined production process.

Greater product quality. In a similar vein to lowering product costs, product quality should increase as you foster the PLM process. Whether it's finding more durable materials or better parts at the right price, each cycle should push you to assess your sourcing, development and production methods to improve your offerings.

Faster time to market. This is a direct result of improving your supply chain along with manufacturing and logistics. The right PLM software is not only a repository for product data along its lifecycle, but also a tool to have comparable data to streamline and improve the steps in your process.

The benefits go on with measurable data suggesting that choosing not to use PLM software is likely to be detrimental to a range of key metrics for companies.

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