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Product data management is also abbreviated to PDM, a three-letter abbreviation in the style of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and HRM (Human Resource Management). This term is used in business software where the management of article data is central.

What does Product Data Management aim for?

The general goal of PDM is to always get the right product information to the right person or department. This usually concerns technical product data for the design, production and assembly of articles. More specifically, in a PDM system you will find design specifications, materials, test results, etc. Producers of composite articles in particular make extensive use of Product Data Management. For example, the department that provides cars with seats and inner lining needs a lot of technical specifications from the department that produces the bodywork. Even when parts of the production are outsourced, PDM is often used. In this case, the information is provided or obtained from an external company.

Product Data Management is strongly linked to Product Information Management (PIM). However, PDM differs from PIM because it focuses more on internal business processes. The main goal is to optimize (internal) production of product data. PIM then looks beyond the company walls and focuses on the entire customer experience. Business processes are also optimized with a PIM, but often with the goal to improve the final customer experience.


PDM Software

Product Data Management is offered in various ways. There are both separate packages and modules within an ERP system. The advantage of an ERP module is the far-reaching integration with the rest of the business processes. The disadvantage may be that these modules are slightly less specialized, or that integration with software outside the ERP is more difficult. In that case, a separate package with an ERP link is often worth considering.


From PDM to Product Lifecycle Management

PDM software is often combined with CAD programs for technical drawing. In this case, the necessary data is stored in the PDM, and from there the CAD system is opened when drawings have to be made or modified. The advantage of this is that the CAD does not have to be linked separately to the ERP system again. If the PDM is linked, so is the CAD indirectly.

The combination of PDM and CAD is often referred to as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). A CAD program takes care of the first step in the life cycle of a product, namely the design. However, a full PLM system goes even further. It manages the entire lifecycle of a product: from idea to design, production, arrival and possibly even use and maintenance at the customer.


Purpose of PMD Software

The amount of article data has increased explosively compared to approximately twenty years ago. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Product assortments are getting bigger. A supermarket quickly has an assortment of many thousands of products, and a webshop soon has an assortment of some hundred thousand products.
  2. The life cycle of products is much shorter than before. Most manufacturers do not supply the same product for more than a year (for example, bicycles) or even a few months (computer hardware). Then there will be a new, upgraded product available.
  3. The amount of data registered per article is increasing. One hundred fields per product (or more) is quite normal. Also, the type of fields and data stored  is increasing in complexity, differing per product type.
  4. The standardization requirements are increasing, because products must also be compared on the specifications in product comparisons (websites) per product category.
  5. As margins are under severe pressure in many indirect sales channels, the need for cost efficiency and standardization of catalog exchange formats is also increasing.

PDM software is indispensable to properly manage the above developments.


PDM & Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management (SCM), is a principle where better functionality of the participating company in the chain is created by improving processes and cooperation with suppliers and customers. In the catering industry and the supplying companies, for example, this can ensure that less waste is created through more accurate purchasing.

Supply Chain Management is generally supported by software (Enterprise Resource Planning; SAP is especially known in this area) that allows companies to keep in touch with each other and to have orders processed automatically through the application and implementation of Supply Chain Management, the so-called pendulum effect prevented or reduced to a minimum. This means that suppliers will request too much from their suppliers, which in turn do so, so that eventually an excess of items is produced, which can result in a lot of costs in the catering industry for suppliers, who then pass on their losses in subsequent deliveries and so the prices go up. In the food trade, this is supported at the cash register by translating the cash register transaction to the supplier, who knows the consumption at the various stores without much delay, so that they can quickly replenish the stock.


Supporting you in the PDM & PIM World

To help you make unveil all your business requirements and make sure you make the right choice to manage all your product data and product workflows we offer free PIM Selection advice. Part of the process is a review of your IT landscape, including PDM needs and solutions.

Want to learn more about PIM?

If you have any questions regarding Product Information Management, from PIM Selection to Implementation or how a PIM would fit in your IT landscape? Feel free to browse our Knowledge Base of articles on everything PIM related.

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