Find the best Product Lifecycle Management Software

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Unifize

Unifize takes a totally different approach to quality management operations. It is infinitely configurable to every quality process, meaning we map to your processes and not the other way around. Unifize brings people, processes a...Read more about Unifize

4.7 (11 reviews)

18 recommendations

Propel

Propel Software helps product companies grow revenue and increase business value with PLM, QMS, PIM, and supplier management on a single cloud platform. Our product value management solution connects commercial and product teams t...Read more about Propel

4.1 (16 reviews)

16 recommendations

MasterControl Quality Excellence

MasterControl is the #1 QMS in the life sciences with more life sciences customers than any other QMS provider. For over 30 years, we’ve helped companies of all sizes bring their life-changing products to market sooner. We provide...Read more about MasterControl Quality Excellence

4.5 (422 reviews)

2 recommendations

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is an enterprise resource planning software with primary features such as real estate management, human capital management, environmental health and safety and commodity trading. What is JD...Read more about JD Edwards EnterpriseOne

4.2 (157 reviews)

1 recommendations

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ComplianceQuest

ComplianceQuest is a next-generation, AI-powered Quality and Safety Management System (EQMS + EHS = QHSE) built natively on Salesforce to help life science companies speed product and process innovation, minimize risk and drive co...Read more about ComplianceQuest

4.7 (91 reviews)

1 recommendations

PolyPM

PolyPM was created by Polygon Software, a provider of technology solutions for apparel manufacturers and textile mills since 2001. PolyPM is a 2-in-1 enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM) solut...Read more about PolyPM

4.6 (37 reviews)

1 recommendations

Adaptive Compliance Engine (ACE)

Adaptive Compliance Engine (ACE) is a highly configurable, workflow-based, quality management system built for companies with complex needs. This solution offers various applications, such as ACE Docs, ACE LMS, ACE Inspection, ACE...Read more about Adaptive Compliance Engine (ACE)

4.6 (22 reviews)

1 recommendations

Exenta

Aptean Apparel Solution isn't just a solution; it's your strategic ally in the Fashion & Apparel industry. Designed to integrate every business aspect seamlessly, it transforms operations, offering real-time visibility and unparal...Read more about Exenta

3.4 (8 reviews)

1 recommendations

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 about Trello

Jira

Jira Software is a business process management tool used by agile teams to plan, track and release software. Jira Software supports Scrum, Kanban, a hybrid model or another unique workflow. Jira enables users to create project r...Read more about Jira

ClickUp

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 about ClickUp

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 about Wrike

Airtable

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 about Airtable

Odoo

Odoo is the #1 open-source integrated business apps suite. Main apps include Website Builder, eCommerce, CRM, Accounting, Project Management, Warehouse Management, Manufacturing, Human Resources, and Marketing. There is an app for...Read more about Odoo

Aha!

Aha! is the world's #1 product development software. We help more than 1 million product builders bring their strategy to life. Our suite of tools includes Aha! Roadmaps, Aha! Ideas, Aha! Whiteboards, Aha! Knowledge, and Aha! Deve...Read more about Aha!

Sage 100

Sage 100 is a cloud-connected ERP platform (Enterprise Resource Planning) for medium-sized manufacturers, distributors, and professional service companies. Finance, budgeting, planning, inventory, supply chain, production manageme...Read more about Sage 100

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 about CATIA

Tempo Timesheets

Tempo Timesheets: Effortless Time Tracking and Reporting in Jira Track time online, generate reliable reports, and streamline invoicing with Tempo Timesheets. Use the mobile app to track time on-the-go. Log time quickly by draggi...Read more about Tempo Timesheets

Lucky Orange

Lucky Orange is a suite of conversion optimization tools designed to help businesses track and engage with visitors using heatmaps, dashboards, live chat, polls and more. Administrators can gain insights into problematic areas wit...Read more about Lucky Orange

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 about Quip

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

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.