Every product on the market goes through numerous stages of development before hitting the shelves. Products start ideas, then progress into prototypes, finalized products, and eventually retired products. This process, also known as the product lifestyle, can be managed most efficiently using management software. Product lifecycle management (PLM) software helps companies develop each of their products more efficiently and at a lower cost.
Product Lifecycle Management Software: What is it?
The processes of innovation, design, manufacturing, and retail involve several different departments within a single company. If the department teams work in completely separate silos, then they are likely to use their own unique systems and processes to accomplish their work, causing confusion between the teams.
Product lifecycle management software brings all of these separate systems and processes into a single platform. This ensures that everyone from the designers, to the factory, right up to the retailer has the same data and information and understands the previous stages of development.
Product Lifecycle Management Software: How Does it Work?
Taking a product from conception right through to sales requires planning, resource allocation, and feedback from all departments. It integrates multiple technologies and processes such as computer-aided design (CAD), product modeling and simulation, product data management (PDM), material billing, enterprise resource planning, and customer relationship management into a single platform.
Each department can add their input alternatively, consecutively, or simultaneously onto the project. In real-time, each action and communication made is logged, making it easier to revise work or fix an error. An alteration on the project at hand will produce an immediate update of previous and future stages. For example, if a new fabric is added to the garment during the design stage, a bill of materials is immediately updated along with a projection of margins from the sale.
Product Lifecycle Management Software: How Can it Help Your Business?
Having all parties involved in the product’s life cycle on a single platform can make your business more efficient, profitable, and productive. PLM software can benefit your business in the following ways:
- By increasing the ease of collaboration between companies, departments, and teams
- By streamlining the design, manufacturing, and sales functions.
- Through the automation of simple tasks
- By recording every iteration of the product and ensuring that everyone has updated versions
- Through the sharing of data and ideas
- By logging all interactions, thereby making regulatory compliance simpler
What is the Training Process for PLM Software?
Technology, like any tool, is only as good as its application. Training your team on how to use PLM software is essential in maximizing every gain you can get out of it. The training sessions are mostly dependent on the modules chosen and the objectives of adopting PLM software. After that:
- Theoretical training takes place so that the team understands what the PLM software can do
- Exercises are carried out in a closed software environment so that trainees can get experience using the software
- Post-training material is provided, should the trainees need refresher courses.
How Much Does PLM Software Cost?
PLM used to be the preserve of large organizations, but it is no longer that way. Much like any other technology, the cost has significantly come down and become accessible to smaller organizations. This is primarily due to the entrance of cloud PLM solutions in the market. This has shifted the cost of PLM software from a capital expenditure to more flexible operational spending.
The total cost of PLM usually depends on a few variables, like how many users need access, the modules used, objectives of the PLM software installation, and the chosen vendor. The average cost of PLM software is between $80-$150, paid monthly for each user. The cost structure is mainly comprised of:
- An initial fee or investment, which is usually 30-40 percent of the total cost. The number of users requested will affect this cost center
- Setup expenses (these are one-time expenses and include services like training and data migration)
- Recurring expenses: The expenses paid to keep access to the PLM software. The total cost relies on the number of users requested and is the lowest cost center, at approximately ten percent of total costs. This expense also covers maintenance and support.
Bottom Line: Is Investing in PLM Worth It?
Think about the amount of effort that goes into bringing a product to life, the number of iterations of small details, and discussions on the alternative. Keeping track of all of that can be daunting unless you have PLM software. All interactions and iterations are recorded and logged. This makes it easier to revise a product, note the design process, and try any idea knowing that reverting is as simple as a click.
Human errors can be costly; imagine if a decimal or a digital is off and how that would cascade as each department builds on top of that wrong measurement. Having a single file on which everyone works on reduces that risk. Everybody sees and works on the same thing.
Give Your Business and Employees the Edge
Collaboration, accuracy, and improved quality are just some of the reasons you should consider adopting PLM software. The cost savings from synergies and enhanced work conditions will make working in teams more profitable and more straightforward.