product lifecycle management (PLM)

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a systematic approach to managing the series of changes a product goes through, from its design and development to its ultimate retirement or disposal.

PLM is associated with manufacturing, but the management structure can also be used for software development and service provision. PLM is typically broken into the following stages:

  • Beginning of life (BOL) - includes new product development and design processes.
  • Middle of life (MOL) - includes collaboration with suppliers, product information management (PIM) and warranty management.
  • End of life (EOL) - includes strategies for how the products will be disposed of, discontinued or recycled.

A PLM software application can help an organization manage their product's lifecyles by providing a data warehouse for all the information that affects the product. PLM software can be used to automate the management of product-related data and integrate the data with other business processes such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). The goal of PLM is to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. PLM is considered to be an integral part of the lean production model.

This was last updated in December 2013

Next Steps

PLM and PLM software have many uses and benefits. PLM can solve a variety of issues companies experience with product design and development. Knowing when your organization needs PLM software and which features and functions of PLM systems fit your business model are first steps in getting your products designed and released efficiently.

Read this comparison of PLM systems and vendors to see which product best fits your enterprise's needs and these in-depth product overviews of the leading PLM systems: Aras Innovator, Arena PLM, Autodesk PLM 360, Dassault Systemes' ENOVIA PLM platform, Oracle PLM, PTC Windchill, SAP PLM, Siemens PLM suite and Synergis' Adept PDM.

Continue Reading About product lifecycle management (PLM)

Dig Deeper on ERP and PLM

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Product life-cycle management (or PLM) is the succession of strategies used by business management as a product goes through its life-cycle.
Thanks Margaret for this explanation. A PLM is useful to gather all data about your products in a repository. As a result, teams benefit from a “single version of the truth” when looking for any information about products. It is also possible to trace and version products, and then have a global view of past and current portfolio. First reserved to complex systems and engineering companies, PLM is now set up by more and more sectors such as food industries or cosmetics for instance. As you said, an important point is to be sure of PLM compatibility with implemented ERP. If you want to know more about product lifecyle management, feel free to click on the following link:
Margaret, this is an excellent intro for folks wondering what it is. So many companies are using spreadsheets where PLM software would make their lives easier and save them money in the end.

Our company, Aligni, offers this type of product lifecycle management via a cloud-based platform. 

Thanks for the article!