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Product Lifecycle Management

General notes on product lifecycle management.

General Notes

  • Nobody really knows what PLM is.
  • It seems more like a buzzword than a field of expertise.
  • However, the connotation of an integrated and consistent approach that considers the /whole/ of a product's life, and that there is some responsibility for it (via management) makes it a good term.
  • There is apparently STEP AP239 that deals with PLCS (product life cycle support)

Defining PLM

From 2PLM Newsletter volume 7, #1, Aug 16, 2004

While benchmarking of PLM is relatively easy, defining PLM is proving to be extremely difficult. There seem to be as many views of PLM as there are PLM experts. The following short selection from the Web shows how wide the range is:

  • “PLM : A business strategy that helps companies share product data, apply common processes, and leverage corporate knowledge for the development of products from conception to retirement, across the extended enterprise.”

In 2003, we started to define PLM using the term 'business activity', as in “PLM is the business activity of managing an organization's products all the way across their lifecycles in the most effective way.”

Partly that's because we found C-level executives see Product Lifecycle Management as a business activity they can proactively address to help achieve corporate objectives such as increased product profitability and reduced product-related costs.

And partly, it's because defining PLM as a business activity is a good start for clarifying other PLM terms. For example:

  • a PLM Initiative is a corporation's action (often a corporate-wide/cross-functional project) taken to implement or improve the management of products across their lifecycles
  • PLM processes are processes in the activity of product lifecycle management (e.g. the product planning process, the product development process, the product retirement process)
  • PLM applications are application systems used to manage products across their lifecycles. Currently, no individual application system manages all products across all of their lifecycles - current application systems manage products to some extent, across some part, or parts, of the lifecycle (e.g. a Computer Aided Design system, a Product Data Management system, a Product Portfolio Management system).

Other Definitions

According to the site of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition (, Logistics, and Technology, total lifecycle systems management (TLCSM) is the implementation, management, and oversight, by the designated Program Manager (PM), of all activities associated with the acquisition, development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal of a DoD weapon system across its life cycle.

The PDF report, NIST GCR 04-867, 'Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry', weighs in at 1.5 MB. It estimates the cost of inadequate interoperability in the U.S. capital facilities industry to be $15.8 billion per year. (

Some definitions of related terms are available at (FIATECH is a non-profit consortium focused on fast-track development and deployment of technologies to substantially improve how capital projects and facilities are designed, engineered, built and maintained.)

From the above list, we get the fairly circular definition: Life Cycle Data Management - is the management of data throughout the capital project or plant life cycle.

Per John Stark's book Product Lifecycle Management: Paradigm for 21st century Product Realisation (Amazon listing),

“as seen by the user there are five phases in a product's lifecycle :

  • Imagine
  • Define
  • Realise
  • Use (operate)
  • Dispose (recycle)

“and as seen by the manufacturer/supplier there are also five phases:

  • Imagine
  • Define
  • Realise
  • Support (service)
  • Retire”

“Starting with these definitions, it's interesting to see how the NIST lifecycle phases and FIATECH key terms relate. Of course, some readers might think it doesn't matter how many phases there are in a product's lifecycle.

“On the other hand, some readers might think that when working with other organizations there could be advantages in having clearly defined lifecycle phases, each of which has clearly defined processes and information structures. Advantages such as easier communication, standard interfaces, simple interfaces, reduced costs, less time wasted, etc.”

See Also


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research/product_lifecycle_management.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)