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Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) does NOT manage customer-facing product information – true or false?

by Andrew White  |  July 16, 2015  |  Comments Off on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) does NOT manage customer-facing product information – true or false?

I just heard this from a client while on an inquiry: “I have to go to my users and now tell them that we need another ‘P underscore M‘ solution since our PLM system doesn’t do this?”  YES!

It has happened again.  I was talking with an end-user client that admitted they had just “spent a whole lot of money on a top-notch PLM project” only to find out the resulting implementation falls woefully short of managing product information for sales, marketing, supply chain planning, supply chain execution and so on.  This client has spent their budget and there is little left.  The solution is a failure since it only went part-way to meet the original goals.  In fact, if I had been there at the start, I would have cried, “Foul!”

Why does this keep happening?  Because PLM vendors over step their capabilities without the knowledge, skills, and capabilities needed to satisfy the promise of their own sales person.

PLM does NOT handle the product information – of any kind – for customer-facing business processes.  PLM has nothing to add to this need.  PLM is focused on the business process (and information) needed to design and develop new products.  That’s it.

If your scope reaches forward into the customer-facing business processes, and you need to curate and otherwise govern product information – structured and unstructured- there is whole other language and set of solutions needed ranging from Digital Asset Management (DAM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM/WCM), and several possible flavors of Master Data Management including MDM of Product Data (of which one specific scenario, appropriate here, used to be called Product Information Management).  A visionary organization night sprinkle across all of these a little Information Stewardship app for good measure.  All these solutions help manage the information for a wide range of customer-facing business processes.  These solutions help you get more value from your investments in CRM, e-Commerce, web sales, print catalogs, and the list goes on and on.

The MDM hub should act as the traffic cop between all the major applications such as CRM, ERP and PLM.  Each local app or suite might even have its own local hub to share data used locally – that is where PIM came from originally – much as Customer Data Integration (CDI) emerged as the shared customer hub for CRM and other customer masters.

Last rant for the day: The name Product Data Management (PDM) is another legacy hang-over form PLM days.  PDM is the name given to the product data repository supporting the PLM application or suite.  The PDM hub should in fact publish product master data to the MDM hub for use in all other consuming applications.  The PDM hub may also publish other product related data directly to other data hubs or business application, using the business rules in the MDM hub.  PDM is in fact an Application Data Management hub.  But now I am into the weeds.

Please, please, please keep and put PLM back into its box.  We did it CRM, and we did it with ERP.  Can we please do it again with PLM?

PS please note that I don’t refer to PLM vendors.  It is quite possible that a PLM vendor might enter these other markets for DAM, ECM, and MDM – but if they did, they should use those terms when appropriate.

Category: application-data-management  content-management  crm  customer-data-integration-cdi  digital-asset-management-dam  e-commerce  enterprise-content-management-ecm  erp  master-data-management  mdm  mdm-of-product-data-mdm  product-data-management-pdm  product-information-management-pim  product-lifecycle-management-plm  web-content-management-wcm  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio




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