What’s the Difference between Product Data Management and PLM?

Are you having trouble keeping track of your product information? This is a big problem for growing businesses. Now that you have more products in development, and more employees, tracking everything on paper just doesn’t make sense. You need a more efficient way to manage your company’s products. You need to figure out how to make running a small business more efficient.

If you’ve already done some research, you’ve probably heard about product data management and product lifecycle management systems. These systems sound similar, so you may be wondering if there’s a difference.

What’s the difference between these systems, and what does your business need? Here’s what you need to know.

Product Lifecycle Management Systems

Product lifecycle management (PLM) systems help you manage the entire lifecycle of your products. They help you keep track of products from the design and development stages all the way to their ultimate discontinuation.

With a PLM solution, you can keep all your important product information in one place. You can manage your design documents, control bill of material records, and identify materials needed for products. You can also manage task assignments and workflows.

These systems help businesses become more efficient. Employees in different departments can check product information on their own, which improves communication. Since everyone will be looking at the most up-to-date version of the product information, fewer errors will be made.

Product Data Management Systems

Product data management (PDM) systems track specific details about products. This includes technical specifications, design drawings, and engineering models. Engineers are usually the heaviest users of PDM systems, and they use the systems to track their CAD drawings. PDM is a standard component of PLM systems, but it’s also available as a standalone product.

Choosing a System for Your Business

To decide which system is right for your business, think about your needs. If your only frustration is that product data is disorganized and you can’t find design files, you may be happy with a PDM system. If you’re having trouble tracking the lifecycles of your many products, PLM may be better. For companies that are having issues with communication or managing workflows, PLM is also a good choice.

Remember to consider your business’s future needs when you choose a system. While you may only need a PDM now, you may need more functionality later. Down the line, when your business has grown again, you may start having trouble tracking product lifecycles.

As you know, upgrading your technology is a drain on productivity. You need to spend time researching different technologies, then you need to implement one. You need to learn how to use your chosen technology, and then teach your employees to use it. If you think you’ll need PLM in the future, select a system that includes it now. Then, the system will scale with your needs, and your business can remain productive as it grows.

Consider an ERP Solution

Chances are your product data isn’t the only thing you’re having trouble keeping track of. As businesses grow, the paperwork piles up, and every department gets more difficult to manage. Customer data becomes hard to find, invoices get lost, and tracking inventory on paper becomes impossible. If that sounds familiar, you may need an ERP solution, not just a PDM or PLM system.

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. ERP solutions let you manage all your business operations in one place. The data is integrated, so it’s easy for you to get a bird’s eye view of your business. With these solutions, you can manage product lifecycles, track orders, manage inventory, and more, all from one place.