PLM Prompt: Should we combine PLM and PIM efforts?

Short prompt – I’m looking on definition of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Product Information Management (PIM).

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. [1] PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise.[2]

Product information management (PIM) or PIM refers to processes and technologies focused on centrally managing information about products, with a focus on the data required to market and sell the products through one or more distribution channels. A central set of product data can be used to feed consistent, accurate and up-to-date information to multiple output media such as web sites, print catalogs, ERP systems, and electronic data feeds to trading partners. PIM systems generally need to support multiple geographic locations, multi-lingual data, and maintenance and modification of product information within a centralized catalog to provide consistently accurate information to multiple channels in a cost-effective manner.

Even difference is clear, it looks like combination of PIM and PLM efforts can bring significant benefits to the company to streamline information management around a product.

Just my opinion. What do you think about it?


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  • Nawal

    From another perspective, I would like to think of this as:

    PLM centers more on engineering functions – design engineering, systems engineering, manufacturing engineering, qualit engineering and so on. PLM deals with authoring applications within all these domains. It also makes information available to people outside the domain. But, currently, it does not do a good job of providing a federated architecture for integrating with systems out-side these doamins. Most of these systmes are business systems. Most companies today have one-way or two-way push/pull integration between PLM and ERP systems.

    PIM basically is product information at abstract level or higher consutructor without getting bogged down in the deatails of engineering authoring applications.

    In my opinion, PIM comes into picture due to need of providing product information to non-engineering systems within a federated architectural framework.

    Can PLM systems, particular with CAD heritage, perform this role. Therotically yes and practically I doubt it.

  • Nawal, Thanks for your comments! What I can observe is that CAD based PLM is focusing how to provide information out too. So, this effort is toward to have more open system. However, prob. it still not enough… What are key requirement set for PIM type of apps today? Regards, Oleg.

  • Reggie Weinholdt

    I think there should be a pill that prevents people from inventing useless acronyms. You are so concerned about pointless details of what might be that I believe you don’t have much honest understanding of what actually is.

    Do you have anything useful about Product Development to talk about?

    [Oleg] I’m trying to discuss in open way everything, including what you called “useless acronyms”. Many industries developed acronyms. Sometime people loved them and sometime not. I think open industry discussion can help to identify useless acronyms and clean space. Thanks for your comments! Oleg.

  • Nawal

    We can take cost as an example. Though it is critical part of product information. it is rarely authored in PLM system. For Buy situation, if a company uses sourcing tools like Ariba, that is probably the first place where it will appear in the enterprise. For Make situations, ERP systems are probably the place to look for. Similarly, many companies have other information that is part of product information but is out-side the reach of typical PLM systems.

    In scenarios like this, currently in most situation, we are doing point to point integration. But, if you are large organization, this approach could become very complex. (Just imagine the number of integrations that you would have to maintain.)

    So, ideally, we should have open standards, that go much beyond what is being offered today. For example, if I am using PLM_x and use Ariba as Sourcing system, I should be able to configure the integration without any customization. As I said, the approach to integration right now is point-to-point, and mostly custom or offered by vendors or third parties.

    But, till such a standard become widely available and used, I would expect Marketing departments of companies like IBM, SAP and Oracle to offer some solutions to this problem, by using their muscles and forming their own alliances, hoping that their approach becomes an industry standard.

  • Nawal

    I missed requirements point.

    PIM system will have to act like hub in hub-spoke architecture. Where other authoring system are spoke. If it is peer-to-peer architecture between all systems, then it will become unmanageable.

    It will have to be very granular, like property on a occurrence in a BOM can be authored in a system different than BOM authoring system.

    It will have to let a system subscribe to a sub-set of Product data. And provide the update and changes based on pre-configured frequency.

  • Nawal, Thanks for your examples! What is very interesting is that you pointed out areas presented by PLM companies as potential to growth in organizations. I think, even PLM solutions demonstrated some success in these areas, they are still not on the mainstream implementations. ERP keeps cost-related data very closed to their storages. From my experience, requirement management system is much closer to PLM world, but many companies still have it as a separate system – Telelogic is very popular, in my view; also multiple homegrown systems in this space based on MS Office products… Great comments and great discussion! Thanks, Oleg.

  • Vishal

    Nawal has a good point and interesting discussion!

    Some bits from my side:
    1) Our assumption here is that point-to-point integrations/SOA integrations add to manageability issues. But with well developed middleware in market, I don’t think it would be an issue
    2) Point-to-point integrations make the system flexible, and any kind of disparate systems can be connected to each other! It’s probably better to have modular systems doing independent work, and communicating to each other in a loosely coupled environment, rather than having systems closely bounded to each other.

  • Vishal, thanks for your view! I agree, if you have both systems and clear scenario, point-to-point will work better. The main challenge, after, will be to manage change of these modular integrations.
    Great discussions! Thanks! Oleg/

  • Shankar

    PLM-Tracking of Product from Inception to Obsolete
    PIM-Storage of Product Information (Product Repository~Product Hub)

  • Jurgen

    Another interesting discussion about definitions. I like all of your examples and it shows that starting a discussion about the definition of a methodology will lead to technological examples.
    In my opinion PIM is part of PLM. In a way I would discribe PLM as the overall methodology and the definition of PIM you used discribing more details about one aspect of PLM. Certainly historically PLM is coming from a engineering focused background, but has come a long way and is nowadays used in many other industries – possibly not all aspects of it but its principles. The technological integration, the systems, the architecture and the platform is relevant now in the phase where companies are looking into ways to successfully implement PLM into their organisation.
    Thanks to eve4yone – very inspiring. Jurgen

  • Shankar, This is good clarification. But since we do care about “single point of truth”, how we can combine “tracking option” and “repository” together? Does it make sense? Thanks, Oleg

  • Jurgen, In my view PLM have more broad process and methodological position; PIM in his current definition brings more technology for product information distribution (mostly related to electronic catalogs). However, I see hight mix of technology and cross-usage. These days, the same organization rarely will implement both. I think consolidation must happen to rationalize technology, usage and, as a result, cost implication of such implementation. Thanks for your comments and discussion! Best, Oleg.

  • Daniel Pfau

    I would not consider PIM as part of PLM, but rather as a standalone system. In my opinion, both systems are extremely useful for entrepreneurs, but I would still use them separately. They have two different roles: PLM – to track and support the entire product life cycle, PIM – enrichment, and storage of finished product information. One can say that PIM systems are more focused on the promotion of products, that is, to increase its marketing efficiency.

  • beyondplm

    Thanks! It makes sense.