How To Define PLM?

How To Define PLM?

What is the proper definition of PLM? This is a simple and complex question at the same time… Recently, I had a chance to see few interesting definitions of PLM.

One is very long and comprehensive came from Siemens PLM website and contains lots of examples and even point on PLM’s future.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software allows companies to manage the entire lifecycle of a product efficiently and cost-effectively, from ideation, design and manufacture, through service and disposal. Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), Product Data Management (PDM) and Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) converge through PLM.

Another definition is coming from Al Dean of Develop3D:

Actually, Al’s version is a very simple one (thanks Deelip brining this version out):

PLM is easy to define. It’s 3 things. A product. Its lifecycle. And Managing it. It doesn’t need anymore fucking definition.

Now, I need to think about my version..

Best, Oleg


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  • Владимир Малюх

    I love Al’s version 🙂

  • Vladimir, Thank you. I agree- simplicity is a key! Al rocks… Best, Oleg

  • Yoann Maingon

    Hi oleg,

    my last article on was about PLM definition. I wasn’t definining it but I am mainly saying that before any definition, we have to make a clear separation between PLM concepts and PLM “enabling softwares” or “compliant tool” if PLM has standards.
    The marketing around PLM is really not helping. In france we’ve translated CAD to CAO and PDM to SGDT but we didn’t translate PLM!!! And i think we should.
    here is the post:

  • Yoann, I agree! The proper differentiation between tools, concepts and standards can be a good idea. Marketing is probably doing a bad job by up-selling tools to the level of solutions and assuming it includes standards and so-called best practices. However, they are trying to increase their value prop by doing so.
    I shared my thoughts about PLM and best practices and out-of-the-box solutions few months ago. Here is the link – and
    Best, Oleg

  • Chris

    What at this point it doesn’t yet have a definition?

  • Sharmarahul1

    How about “IT System for Engineers?”

  • beyondplm

    Sharmarahul1, Not bad. In most of the companies I know, there is a separate IT group that responsible for this type of systems. And they are associated with “Engineering”. So, it makes sense. Thanks for commenting! Best, Oleg

  • Michael D Armata

    Quick question about Al’s version (I am not as familiar with PLM systems): what about knowledge capture and re-use? If a company is going to follow continuous improvement practices, and they will be using a PLM system to manage the life cycle of many products for many years to come, is there no experience or mistakes captured in a PLM system that can be learned from and improved upon?

  • beyondplm

    Michael, Thank you for asking this question. I think, it is very important. Many PLM vendors are mentioning PLM as set of tools to acquire and manage Product IP and knowledge. In my view, people are a bit tired of “knowledge management” in the past 10-15 years, so such “knowledge capture” statements are very often receiving some cynical feedback. However, you can certainly see it in multiple PLM presentations. Best, Oleg

  • I am wondering why nobody noticed that yet: Siemens defines “product lifecycle management *software*” (i.e. their offering), while Al defines “product lifecycle management” (the business process).

  • beyondplm

    Frank, thank you! This is a very good point…. I have two observations- 1/Siemens PLM is a software vendor and their definition coming out of “marketing dept” is really about what they are selling- software; 2/Al is an industry watcher and publisher. So, he cares less about marketing/legal.
    Another observation – one of my mentors, many years ago told me – if you don’t know how to call it, call it management. For most of the cases, it stands true. So, I’m trying to be careful with “management” additions to the names of what system is doing. Best, Oleg

  • Kimmo Rautama


    I think there are two schools of thought. One defines PLM as mentioned in this thread (PLM meaning both an application and the paradigm). I think in this context, PDM is considered just a CAD data management system.

    The other school of thought sees PLM as a paradigm, encompassing the management of product data with several enterprise applications – not just PDM (which, in this context, means the “PLM” software), but also ERP, file and data management systems, etc. In this context, the acronym EDM is often used for Engineering Data Management. I think CIMdata’s definition for PLM pretty much follows this pattern.

    Is there a general consensus which terms to use for these? This is a constant problem when promoting PLM in business, as the terms vary depending on who the presenter is…

  • beyondplm

    Kimmo, Thank you for pointing on this very important topic! Terminology is a serious problem. However, the biggest problem I can see is dependencies between solutions and terminology. In the end, software needs to adopt the terminology, and if it varies, need to be flexible enough to work with multiple ones.
    Best, Oleg

  • George

    good god, no !

  • George

    The concept and the “solution” are two different things.
    We’ve have been making cars, building powerplant and flying planes before computers even existed, let alone PLM sofware… and like it or not, we have been doing plm (more or less) sinc the beining of the industrial revolution… the question of defining PLM consists in defining your product, describing how it evoles in time and setting the rules for managing that evolution… and even though IT guys have a hard time admitting it… you can do a lot of those 3 steps without a computer… let alone PLM software…

    I fully agree with AI’s last phrase… “It doesn’t need anymore fucking definition.”

  • beyondplm

    George, thanks for commenting! I think, in the context of your comment, PLM was an answer to solve IT problems for engineers and product development. This would be a polite translation of Al’s def. Does it make sense? Best, Oleg

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