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Adaptive Compliance Engine (ACE)

Adaptive Compliance Engine (ACE) is a quality management solution that allows enterprises to streamline tracking, reporting and management of all quality and compliance business operations. For all business day-to-day operations, ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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Exenta

Exenta is a cloud-based apparel management solution that helps apparel, footwear, accessories, home furnishing and other consumer goods brands, manufacturers and retailers to manage their various business operations. Key features ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Propel

Propel makes cloud-based software that helps manufacturers deliver customer-centric products. Propel combines Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Quality Management (QMS), and Product Information Management (PIM) into a single Saa... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Trello

Trello is a visual collaboration tool for planning tasks and projects. While commonly used by agile software development teams, the solution is also used in other departments such as marketing, sales, support and HR. The web-based... Read more

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monday.comFrontRunners 2021

monday.com, an award-winning collaboration and project management platform, helps teams plan together efficiently and execute complex projects to deliver results on time. monday.com team management and task management tool allows ... Read more

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ClickUpFrontRunners 2021

ClickUp is a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool suitable for businesses of all sizes and industries. Features include communication and collaboration tools, task assignments and statuses, alerts and a task toolb... Read more

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Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f... Read more

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AirtableFrontRunners 2021

Airtable is a cloud-based project management solution targeting small to midsize businesses as well as departments within larger companies. This system focuses primarily on data organization and collaboration. The system uses... Read more

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Odoo FrontRunners 2021

Odoo Point of Sale (POS) is part of Odoo’s integrated suite of business applications. The module is available both on and offline and provides unified data across stores and has an integrated inventory management function. Od... Read more

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Aha!FrontRunners 2021

Aha! is a cloud-based project management solution for small, midsize and large enterprises. It caters to industries including education, energy, finance, government, legal, IT services, marketing, medical, non-profit and others. P... Read more

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Costpoint

Deltek Costpoint is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) and management solution designed to meet the requirements of midsize and large enterprise businesses. The solution primarily assists government contractors, professional se... Read more

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Quip

Quip is a cloud-based project management and task collaboration solution that help users work together and communicate without emails. Users can create and edit spreadsheets, documents and checklists in the system, and team member... Read more

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CATIA

CATIA is a computer-aided design and engineering software designed to help systems architects, construction professionals, designers, engineers, and equipment manufacturers in small and midsized businesses develop 3D product model... Read more

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ProductboardFrontRunners 2021

Productboard is a cloud-based product management and roadmap solution that helps users understand customer needs, market prioritization, progress and improvements. Designed for startups to large enterprises, it enables agile produ... Read more

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Pivotal TrackerFrontRunners 2021

Pivotal Tracker from Pivotal is a cloud-based agile project management solution designed to facilitate collaboration between teams and monitor progress throughout the entire project lifecycle. The solution allows team members invo... Read more

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SpiraTeam

SpiraTeam is a project management solution that offers collaboration and quality assurance tools for businesses of all sizes and within all industries. The solution can be deployed either in the cloud or on-premise and is compatib... Read more

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AssemblaFrontRunners 2021

Assembla is an on-premise and cloud-based software development platform that helps manage and secure files with Git, SVN and Perforce platforms. Designed for development in the game, health care and industrial industries, it helps... Read more

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RoadmunkFrontRunners 2021

Roadmunk is a cloud-based project management solution suitable for all industries and businesses of all sizes. Roadmunk offers schedule visualization tools, project templates and team collaboration features. Users can create ... Read more

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Epicor Advanced MES

Epicor Advanced MES is a manufacturing execution system that is suited to plastic molders, repetitive manufacturers and those with an assembly process involving multiple machines. It is designed to help floor operators to monitor ... Read more

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TeamcenterFrontRunners 2021

Teamcenter is a cloud-based product lifecycle management platform. It allows users to edit product data and processes such as 3D designs, embedded software, documentation and bill of materials. Teamcenter’s features include a... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: June 13, 2021

The goal of product lifecycle management (PLM) is to provide an infrastructure that companies can use to improve product quality. This is achieved by creating a centralized system to organize all data on all products, from initial conceptualization, to manufacturing, to sale and eventually to recycling.

For large companies with geographically dispersed teams, managing these processes and integrating data from throughout the supply chain is a complex strategy that requires software to help automate and connect disparate technology solutions. PLM software is the technology that ties these solutions together.

Here's what we'll cover in this guide:

What Is PLM Software?
Common Features of Product Lifecycle Management Software
Important Considerations
Market Trends to Understand

What Is PLM Software?

PLM software can be thought of as an application designed to help users track all information around product design, production and consumption. It integrates all technology and systems throughout the product lifecycle, from design and simulation technology to procurement and manufacturing solutions.

The advantages to using PLM software can be distilled to three main benefits:

Faster production. Through the use of computer-aided design software, designs can be quickly and easily created, and at lower costs. Meanwhile, computer-aided manufacturing functionality can manage machining processes to create more products, quickly.

More accurate production. PLM software can reduce the chance products deviate from design specifications during machining. Its users can also simulate and test designs before production to ensure finished products will be reliable.

More efficient production. Users can communicate with coworkers throughout the organization and share designs, production forecasts and other data. The creation of definitive, automatic processes for product build, assembly and disassembly.

These benefits combined lead to more organized, profitable product development.

Common Features of Product Lifecycle Management Software

The modules and features found within PLM applications will vary vendor by vendor: some systems are fully featured suites, containing modules to handle every step of the lifecycle, while other solutions offer phase-specific functionality to handle only one aspect of the lifecycle. Most applications act as the “integrator,” connecting various applications and data sources into one, coherent solution.

When evaluating PLM software, here are the key features and functionality to be aware of:

Application Description
Computer-aided design (CAD) CAD applications create two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional models of components. Users of CAD software are able to produce designs more accurately and at greater speeds than professionals who design by hand. In addition, engineers can also reuse and update designs as needed.
Computer-aided engineering (CAE) CAE is an essential process to simulate products, anticipate weaknesses and build-upon preliminary designs to create safer and more structurally sound assets. Its features commonly include performance simulators, finite element analysis, mechanical event simulation and fluid dynamics analysis.
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) CAM ensures that manufacturers create products precisely to design specification. Its applications communicate with machinery to create items exactly as intended, while creating the necessary documentation to trace manufacturing trends at later dates. These applications can greatly reduce raw material usage and improve production efficiency.
Manufacturing process management (MPM) MPM software manages and automates all of the processes that take place to machine products. MPM is also a key component in streaming processes through various reporting functions that look to reduce lead times and inventories.
Product data management (PDM) PDM creates a central repository for all information on product design, requirements and processes. PDM modules are often accessible from any device and offer data security features for users who need to secure production information. Bill of materials (BOM), CAD files, supplier and materials data and information on machine processes are accessible through PDM modules.
Reporting and analytics Analytics can be used to find where lead times are getting out of hand and costs are greatly overshooting estimates. Many systems feature pre-built reports, as well as ad hoc reporting that users can customize to their own needs.

Important Considerations

When evaluating PLM software, there are a few key considerations that you should keep top of mind:

Integrated suite vs. best-of-breed software. Buyers have a lot of options in this market. Many of the major vendors in this space offer multiple applications with varying degrees of functionality. When it comes time to purchase software to assist with PLM, buyers have three main options:

  1. Purchase PLM software from your ERP vendor. Most enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems offer PLM functionality with their suites. Example vendors include: SAP, Oracle and Infor.
  2. Purchase a best-of-breed PLM software application. There are PLM-specific vendors that offer a suite of modules and applications to manage every step of the product lifecycle. Example vendors include: Siemens, PTC and Dassault Systemes.
  3. Purchase PLM modules on a stand-alone basis. Buyers may also choose to purchase CAD, CAE or other modules on as stand-alone tools. Example vendors include: Autodesk, MasterCAM and CAMWorks.

All three options have their merits and faults for particular buyers. We recommend buyers first evaluate their needs, consider the systems that new PLM technology must integrate with and then evaluate the systems that best meet this criteria.

Cloud-based vs. on-premise. Cloud-based PLM software is still in its infancy, but many of the big vendors now offer to host some functionality and allow applications to be accessed via the Internet. The benefits of using PLM software in the Cloud are similar to many other applications, such as low upfront spend and easy online access.

Because of the proprietary nature of the information stored in PLM software, many buyers choose to deploy this type of system in a private Cloud, or an online network managed by the users’ company, rather than by the software vendor. This allows buyers to enjoy the cost- and access-related benefits of the Cloud while maintaining tighter control around their data.

Market Trends to Understand

As we look to the future of PLM, there are some glaring trends on the horizon. First and foremost is the advancement and blurring of the lines that we’re seeing in connected devices. Over the next 5-10 years, more and more products will become connected. While this will lead to exciting product performance and maintenance monitoring, it’s also a new component of product design that must be taken into account.

From a manufacturing perspective, more and more products are going to require baseline software components built into them. This will add another team for existing design, mechanical, electrical, and other manufacturing teams to work with. Organizations will have to determine where, when, and how to embed software teams into the traditional PLM processes.

FrontRunners

Your Guide to Top Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software, May 2021

Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Product Lifecycle Management Software products in North America.

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“Usability” includes user ratings for Functionality and Ease of Use.“Customer Satisfaction” includes user ratings for Customer Support, Likelihood to Recommend and Value for Money.Reviews analysis period: The reviews analysis period spans two years and ends on the 15th of the month prior to publication.