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A PLM system oversees the entire lifecycle of a product. It comprises the conception of the idea to its eventual design and prototyping, on to product manufacturing and release to the service required after the sale of the product, and finally, the disposal of any unsold products.

The History of PLM

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire life cycle of a product. The objectives of PLM are to shorten the ‘Time To Market (TTM), reduce development costs, improve quality, identify new markets, and limit the environmental impact if the product is’ End-of-Life ‘(EOL).

American Motors Corporation(AMC) initiated PLM in 1985 (Product lifecycle management – From its history to its new role).

The automaker sought to accelerate its competitiveness by reducing innovation and time-to-market. Today, Product Lifecycle Management is applied in almost every sector.

Every product on the market goes through four phases: development, growth, maturity, and decline. These stages are described by the “Product Life Cycle” (PLC). The duration of each phase can vary from a few weeks to many decades. Not all products go through all stages because some never reach the market. However, every product that reaches the market will, at some point, disappear (downturn).

What is Product Lifecycle Management Systems?

PLM systems help organizations to manage better the increasing complexity and technical challenges. PLM systems contain information about developments, markets, techniques, processes, and organization. In this way, PLM systems support the management process of a product or service in each of the four life phases and thus form the backbone of companies. Since the goal is to minimize the risk of disruptions during a product launch, PLM works closely with Design for Six Sigma.

Why use PLM?

By integrating Product Lifecycle Management into your work processes, you and the rest of your organization gain control over every phase of your product life cycle. A PLM system fulfills two critical functions, on the one hand, it collects all product information; on the other, it acts as a communication system between marketing, engineering, production, and support.

When you successfully implement your Product Lifecycle Management system and equip your organization with the proper knowledge and resources, you will achieve better results, increase customer satisfaction and waste less time. Companies that implement product lifecycle management do reap the benefits. An Autodesk study shows successful PLM integration makes companies more profitable, efficient, and innovative.

On average, organizations that use a PLM system generate 10% more sales and 7% fewer costs than other mechanical engineering companies. They also lose 7% less time on data management, which gives them more time for innovation.


A solution often included in the comparison is a Product Information Management (PIM) system. Yet there are several main differences between the two systems. Where a Product Lifecycle Management system focuses on the product life cycle and development, a PIM system goes deeper into the product level, the current product information, and the provision of this information to the customer.

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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