What Is Product Lifecycle Management & Why Does It Matter?

Product Lifecycle Management

Want to learn about the concept of product lifecycle management? Read below to learn about the concept’s history and see a break down of each phase of the product lifecycle and the impact these concepts can have on your business. You’ll also learn about some of the benefits of PLM along with the importance and advantages of using PLM software.

What Is PLM?

PLM stands for product lifecycle management, and it is the process of managing the complete lifecycle of a given product — from inception to manufacturing to disposal. 

This concept first came around in the 1980s from American Motors Corporation as a way to make their business more productive and efficient, so they could better compete with larger companies like GMC and Ford. However, nowadays, PLM is useful for any business that designs, manufactures, and distributes products, regardless of industry.

Phases of the Product Lifecycle

It’s important to understand what, exactly, the product lifecycle entails before learning more about how to effectively manage it. There are four main phases that make up the lifecycle of a product: conception, designing, production, and distribution.

–Concept

The cycle begins with the conception or idea for a new product. This phase involves researching the market to build a product that consumers will actually want to buy, and defining production requirements. This phase will determine whether or not the product is actually feasible, with many ideas never advancing beyond this phase.

–Design

After deciding upon a certain idea, the product is then designed, developed, tested, and evaluated. In this phase, businesses will create prototypes and look for ways to improve the product before settling on a final design.

–Production

The next phase is production, wherein businesses will decide how the product will be manufactured. While the product is being produced, businesses may also discuss how to market it to consumers, sales goals, and other related metrics.

–Distribution

Finally, once the product has been successfully manufactured, it must be distributed to its sales channels and sold to customers. There may be maintenance involved, depending on the product, once it is sold. Businesses must also plan for the product’s end-of-life in this phase.

Benefits of PLM

The benefits of using PLM are numerous. One of the most notable benefits of PLM is how it can help avoid issues with inventory management, such as overproduction and inaccurate forecasting.

When using PLM software that is specifically designed to improve the efficiency and quality of your operations, the benefits of the solution become even greater, and will likely include:

  • Enhance compliance with industry regulations and applicable laws during design and production processes
  • Accelerate time to market
  • Increased throughput
  • Consolidate product records
  • Improve communication and collaboration
  • Clear visibility across all development phases
  • Holistic view of product lifecycle
  • Improve product quality
  • Reduce time to market
  • Reduce waste from production; make this list as thorough and comprehensive as possible. 

What Is PLM Software?

In the modern age, businesses use PLM software as one of many newer business technologies that are completely changing entire industries.

The software helps businesses streamline multiple processes and makes them even more efficient and beneficial for their organization.

Thousands of different PLM software solutions exist; some are even industry-specific with unique functionality for that niche. Using the right PLM software for your business is essential to enjoying the benefits mentioned in the section above. 

Take for example that your business operates in the garment/apparel industry. Fashion PLM software will include functions related to inventory management and supply chain logistics to improve your overall product lifecycle. 

Final Thoughts: Advantages of PLM Software

Continually developing PLM platforms can provide even greater benefits to businesses. Let’s use the example of PLM for the fashion industry once more. With mobile functionality for PLM, this makes it even easier to refine and manage the product lifecycle. And thanks to PLM’s ability to integrate with other business software and applications, you won’t endure extended periods of downtime during integration. 

Using PLM software has some serious benefits in and of itself. Not only can it help businesses capitalize on the benefits listed above, but the continual development of new features and functions can put you ahead of the game and make it even easier to manage your products efficiently.

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