Basic Features that every PLM software system should have

In my article about PLM concept, we understand PLM term. PLM is a management of business and product information throughout its lifecycle. It is not easy to manage all these data manually or by old document management system. In the era of computer technology we can develop a system based on PLM philosophy which have ability to manage this information in a efficient way.

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Before developing such PLM software system, we have to think on what should it include so that we can rely on it for efficient management of product lifecycle.

There are many research are going on about PLM system and its content. In future may be new features will come in PLM system. I am covering all features as much as I can and I will update this article whenever new things coming in my way. I am writing my own view on this features of PLM software system.

PLM Software System Features:

1)BOM or product structure management

BOM (Bill of material) is the representation of information in a hierarchical way. Because of BOM we can analyze, compare and take the right decision on information about the product. In my articles on BOM management concepts, we can see the detail information about the Concept of BOM, Types of BOM and the Importance of BOM or product structure management.

2)Item or Business object Management

Item is an entity which contains information and data. The data is in the form of CAD files, pdf, doc, etc. of a specific object. We can process on an item, share it in a collaboration, analyze and compare it with other information. We can access it whenever we required. We can check item status, who modified it. We can manage different versions of the same item.

3)Change Management

We often read a quote about change that is: “In the whole universe, Change is the only thing that is constant”. Change is important for the product to sustain for a long time in the market. Change implies a continuous improvement in product and process. In my article about the Importance of Change, I gave details on how change affects product. Change is very hard to manage and implement in the business process. Thus management of the change process is very important in PLM.

4)User privilege management

PLM system should have user privilege feature about an item or on any information. The owner who create item have privilege like modify and revise it, in the same way, other users should have read access on the same item. In this way, we can protect the item from being modified in collaboration teams.

5)Information retrieval.

As we know to manage large information about the product like an aeroplane which has 3 million parts, is very cumbersome to find particular part information. PLM system has the ability to find out whatever information which is needed urgently for processes. Finding information is a non-value added activity in product management. If we can reduce the time to find information, then we can achieve big worth in PLM.

6)Maintenance of state of item and document

This feature maintains a state of a business object. It shows state like in-work, approve, changes made, absolute on a business object. PLM system should have a feature like maintaining a version of items. Whatever changes done on items, it should be preserved. Because of this feature, we can able to see what changes are made, who made changes and when.

7)Configuration Management

Nowadays, customer wishes are changed. They demand a customized product. They want unique items and variations in product. It is necessary to maintain and manage all this configuration in the product. Thus this feature is very much dominant in the management of different configured products.

8)Workflow Management

It is very important to manage the task among the workers. Because of workflow management, we can divide tasks, assign tasks among users. we can give the same task to approve for several users at the same time. We can use the email system for communication for task between users.

9)File vault

It is very important to store all product lifecycle data in a secure and efficient file system. Efficient means, we can able to retrieve exact data in a very small amount of time whenever we required. The file system should maintain revisions of data, user privilege over data, etc..

10) Project management

In every product developing state, the planning and ‘time to market’ is very important. PLM systems should have an efficient project management tool that can analyze project planning with the actual one so that we can take a proper decision without wasting time and achieve the goal of ‘Time to market’. We can perform various experiments on project planning before actually performing it by using a project management PLM system.

11) Variant management

The product is never same, it changes according to customer requirements. One product can have multiple variants. Variants may be in the sense of color, configuration contents etc. PLM system should have ability to manage these various variant configuration.

There are so many research are going on how to develop PLM system, so that we can achieve PLM goals like time-to-market and cost reduction in process. Every year new features are coming to PLM software systems.

There is very good book I found in which the PLM system features are articulated in a beautiful manner. The book details I mention here,
Book Name: Product Lifecycle Management
Authors: Antti Saaksvuori , Anselmi Immonen
Available on: Springer Research articles

From this list of features if you know anything else, then please comment here. Your thoughts are highly appreciated.

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