Product Lifecycle Management: Strategically Managing Every Stage of the Product Journey


What is Product Lifecycle Management?

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a strategic approach to managing the entire lifecycle of a product from ideation, design and development, through manufacturing, service and disposal. The goal of PLM is to optimize each stage of the lifecycle to reduce costs and bring products to market faster while maintaining quality.

The Product Development Stage

The initial stage of Product Lifecycle Management focuses on product development and design. During this stage, companies are conceptualizing new product ideas, evaluating feasibility, and bringing successful concepts into the product development phase. PLM systems allow cross-functional teams to collaboratively design, prototype and test products virtually before committing resources to physical production. Engineers can work simultaneously on 3D CAD models, ensuring design integrity and catching issues early. Key product data like bills of materials, specifications and compliance documentation is captured and centralized. This collaborative “digital thread” carries through the entire lifecycle.

Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management

Once products are designed and approved, PLM helps with manufacturing preparation and supply chain management. Production workflows, work instructions, tooling requirements and compliance documentation generated during development can be accessed directly by manufacturing teams. PLM helps transfer product definitions digitally to manufacturing equipment like CNC machines to ensure consistency. Systems also integrate with ERP solutions to manage ordered components, monitor inventory levels and schedule production runs. Suppliers can be connected to view just the product data they need through secure portals. This helps suppliers contribute early and collaborate more effectively.

Quality Management and Compliance

Quality management is a core part of PLM. Products are tested during development and requirements are captured. Compliance documents like material safety data sheets, certifications and test results are attached to digital product records. During manufacturing, quality control procedures defined by engineering can be followed systematically. Non-conforming parts or batches can be traced back instantly through serial numbers managed in PLM. Recalls and field issues are simpler with complete product history and traceability in the system. Healthcare and other regulated industries especially benefit from integrated quality management in PLM.

After Sales Service and Maintenance

For products with long lifecycles like capital equipment, service and maintenance are important. In PLM, the digital record of an individual product including its configuration is maintained even after sale. Service technicians can access exploded diagrams, replacement part numbers, repair instructions directly from their handheld devices. Consumables can be reordered automatically when inventory is low. Customers benefit from better support experience while companies gain insights into recurrent issues for continuous improvement. End-of-life recycling and compliance are also simplified with comprehensive product data archived in PLM.

Benefits of Implementing PLM

By implementing PLM solutions that span the complete product lifecycle, many benefits can be realized:

– Faster time to market for new products and iterations through more efficient collaboration, fewer errors and accelerated testing/validation.

– Higher product quality and reliability with manufacturing traceability, compliance oversight and less rework from clearly defined requirements.

– Reduced costs through fewer design changes late in the cycle, leaner inventory with predictive replenishment, streamlined regulatory filings and warranty cost containment.

– Better innovation through lessons learned capture, idea generation, scenario modeling and tighter market feedback loops.

– Enhanced customer satisfaction due to consistent quality, excellent service experience and responsive issue resolution procedures.

– Strategic insight across portfolio/market performance with real-time product analytics and reporting from integrated PLM data.

Selecting the Right PLM Solution

With the potential upside, it’s important for companies to select a PLM solution tailored to their needs. Leading providers offer both on-premise and cloud-based variants with robust functionality for specific stages like CAD/design collaboration, quality tracking or aftermarket service. Industry-specific add-ons address nuances of sectors like aerospace, medical devices or consumer goods. Implementation services are crucial for change management, training and data migration from legacy systems. Choosing the right partner, solution scope and rollout plan upfront ensures long term PLM success and value realization. With the right implementation, PLM delivers competitive advantages through strategic, connected product lifecycle oversight.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it