PDM vs. PLM: An Integration Perspective

PDM vs. PLM: An Integration Perspective

I’m continuing discussions about PDM vs. PLM differences. I’d encourage you to take a look on my previous two posts related to this topic: PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective and PDM vs. PLM: A Process Perspective. My next PDM vs. PLM comparison perspective is related to integration of PDM or PLM systems with other systems and processes in the organization.

Data Integration

For PDM, data integration is the ability to facilitate an exchange between product data records, other enterprise systems and extended value chain. The most important and very important is PDM – ERP integration. This integration provides an ability to exchange design, engineering and manufacturing data. For PLM data integration becomes more complex and needs to include an expanded set of application and data sources. Some of advanced data integration PDM projects are including federation of data between multiple systems.

Process Integration

When it comes to business and product development processes, both PDM and PLM systems can provide a significant influence on how these processes can be integrated. However, PDM system process scope is normally very limited and stay focused on engineering documents and data lifecycle. PLM process integration is focused on the ability of PLM system to have a tight connection with other processes. Most of them are ERP-based. These days it becomes more and more important to have a good support for integrated product development processes.

Social Integration

This is a relatively new aspect of integration and related to the ability of PLM system to be integration with social tools. Tools like Yammer and others represent a new class of tools helping people to collaborate in the organization. Both PDM and PLM systems provide a context for social tools. It can come as data about product, documents, changes processes and everything that helps to identify social relations. For example, by analyzing your product data, you can find a knowledge expert in a particular filed in the organization, etc.

What is my conclusion? Both PDM and PLM systems have very strong dependencies on their ability to be integrated within an organization. PDM integrations are oriented on data access, transfer and interoperability between a PDM and other systems in the enterprise. Data is the main focus of PDM integrations. It may include a different type of data integrations – manual, automatic, one or bi-directional data integrations. However, when it comes to Product Lifecycle Management, the scope of integration can be increased dramatically. It may include integration of processes, people and social context. The ability of PDM and PLM system to integrate what other systems and people in the organization are critical for successful implementations. This of the reasons why PDM and PLM implementations often fail in the organization.

Update: When I finished this post, I found a new post coming from Kurt Chen of Technology Evaluation Center. Kurt posted PDM vs. PLM A Matrix View. What I liked in Kurt’s post is the focus on the PDM/PLM need to be integrated with people and system in the manufacturing organization. This is a key in my view.

Best, Oleg


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  • Kurt Chen

    Hi Oleg,

    Thanks for initiating this round of PDM vs. PLM discussion and keeping sharing your thoughts. It is important to clarify the two not only for better communication within the industry but also for users to see where they are standing and heading for. I’d be very interested in reading more thoughts from you following the data, process, and integration perspectives.



  • Ratnesh Kumawat

    Hi Mr. Oleg,
    I would like to add small point in PDM vs PLM. Organisations are actully streching the limits of PDM as well as PLM. i.e. some are trying to use PLM for their PDM requirements and some are trying to use separate PDM as an add on to their PLM. Does this not diluting the boundaries between PDM and PLM? Even so called PDM softwares are trying to encroach the boundaries of PLM.
    With Regards,

  • Christine

    Call it ERP or MRP, but at the end of the day it is manufacturing that is the customer of the engineering function. It’s almost comical how engineering departments can implement a PLM system without even consulting the manufacturing group as to their needs as they scope the project. The flow between the systems will eventually determine the success or failure of the entire implementation.

    Successful engineering Design change must be fed through “customer” feedback, where manufacturing, purchasing, and Quality are all customers of the design data. For the same reason, these paths of communication must be flexible to deal with the changing needs of the customer.

    I think we will be seeing more common platform, granular solutions that reach well beyond the engineering function in the future.

  • beyondplm

    Christine, thanks for comment and pointing on the issue of manufacturing. This is absolutely important for engineering to be synced up with manufacturing. There is a huge potential for cost saving from this sync, in my view. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Ratnesh, thanks for commenting! I think, the common trend is that PDM companies are trying to move towards PLM (they considered it as more trendy). Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Kurt, Welcome and thanks for your support. I think, these two confusing terms must be clarified and explained Next PDM vs. PLM comparisons will be coming later this month… Best, Oleg