Effective product life cycle management brings together the many companies, departments, and employees involved with the product’s production to streamline their activities, with the ultimate goal of producing a product that outperforms its competitors, is highly profitable, and lasts as long at consumer desire and technology permit. It goes well beyond just setting up a bill of materials.
PLM systems help organizations cope with increasing complexity and engineering challenges of developing new products. They can be considered one of the four cornerstones of a manufacturing corporation’s information technology structure, the others being the management of communications with their clients (customer relationship management or CRM), their dealings with suppliers (supply chain management or SCM), and their resources within the enterprise (enterprise resource planning or ERP).
Identifying which stage of its life cycle a product is in determines how it will be marketed. For example, a new product (one in the introduction stage) needs to be explained, while a mature product needs to be differentiated. PLM can affect more fundamental elements of a product, too. Even after it reaches maturity, a product can still grow—especially if it is updated or augmented in some way.