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MDM and Product Lifecycle Management explained – finally!

By Andrew White | August 07, 2009 | 0 Comments

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)Product Information Management (PIM)Product Data Management (PDM)MDMMaster Data Lifecycle

One particular topic has plagued a lot of users for several years – what is the overlap, or intersection, between MDM, Product Data Management (PDM), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).  Well, a colleague of mine (Marc Halpern) and I have just published a couple of notes on the topic.  

My overview is A Look at the Differences and Interactions Among PDM, PLM and MDM and Marc drilled down into a little more detail, with Interfacing PDM and MDM for Cross-Enterprise Needs 

This topic is very interesting for a couple of reasons.  

  1. It is not a new topic; it became topical about size or seven years ago when MDM of Product Data (or as it was then known, Product Information Management) raised its ugly head.  Many consumer goods firms who had PLM strategies (back then) were just realizing that product data (as published by PLM applications) had to go somewhere other than ERP systems, so PIM seemed to be a good place to go.  However, PLM vendors (as creative as any other vendors) thought they could “do” PIM and so there was a small conflagration of vendor hype. About 4 years ago this died down, or so I thought.  
  2. PLM itself, as a software category, is not as mature (or even as widely understood) as some other pretty large categories, such as ERP, CRM, Procurement, and SCM.  This lack of maturity and understanding of how PLM should be, as a strategy, should be adopted by firms in many industries, prevented the earlier exploration of the intersection between MDM, PDM and PLM.  Whereas with ERP, SCM, and CRM, that dialog has long since passed (and MDM ‘won’).  
  3. Since PLM is once again in vogue (the hype level is high again, and PLM vendors are once again making noises to their prospects, along the lines of, “we can do that – just give me a chance”, it seems appropriate that we write the research that says what needs to be said.

Bottom line – and I plagiarize – use the right tool for the right job.  Though I may not be the best “home maintenance” person out there, I sure know when to use hammer, and when to use a spanner.  Hopefully business application architects will do the same.

Submit a customer case study to win the Gartner MDM Excellence Award 2009!  Go here:,zzz.html


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