During last week, I’ve been discussing with one of my long time friends different types of enterprise systems. Very fast we came to the conclusion that using TLA (Three Letter Acronyms), we stack very fast, and actually we need to figure out what is practically inside and what are those systems are doing (or expecting to do). So we passed all EIM, EDM, PDM, PIM, PLM, cPDM…. I want to discuss actually comparison between Product Lifecycle Management and Enterprise Content Management Systems. I think this combination happens very often in organization and I will be very interesting to discuss and have feedback from readers of PLM Think Tank about how they see these two systems.
According to the Wikipedia:
A content management system (CMS) such as a document management system (DMS) is a computer application used to manage work flow needed to collaboratively create, edit, review, index, search, publish and archive various kinds of digital media and electronic text. An enterprise content management (ECM) system is concerned with content, documents, details and records related to the organizational processes of an enterprise. The purpose is to manage the organization’s unstructured information content, with all its diversity of format and location.
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.  PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise. …. The core of PLM (product lifecycle management) is in the creations and central management of all product data and the technology used to access this information and knowledge.
So, the purpose of ECM is to manage organization’s information content and the core purpose of PLM is to manage all product data. So, with some simplification I came to the conclusion that both classes of systems are managing content. In my view, major piece of organization’s content in manufacturing organization is related to their products, and I’d expect product data to be hidden behind this magic word “content”. At the same time, it so called “product data” in PLM system is also sort of content, but probably very specific and related to special systems such as – CAD and BOM management. This is time to remember a magic word “unstructured” used by ECM definition. Since CAD and BOM management systems are very “structured” by nature, looks like ECM creators put fences and said “all non-CAD”… oops, content, belongs to ECM and CAD/BOM related stuff is going to PDM/PLM.
What is my conclusion from this analyzes? I think PLM vs. ECM is only small slice of enterprise system landscape. Enterprise systems successfully created so many overlapped silos. These silos and associated with these silos systems create very complex enterprise content, information, data and tools landscape. I think time is coming to rationalize this landscape.
So, what do you think? What is your company’s enterprise landscape? Do you have all possible data, product, information etc. management systems? How do you see these systems evolve in current economical situations?