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Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) – What is it?

Another buzzword, another hyped up same ol’ thing or something new, looking at an age old problem with new glasses – what is PLM exactly all about? I came across Arena solutions which is in the business of selling PLM tools and went through their demos to ascertain what they’re upto. In a nutshell, PLM software:Products as ERP:Finance and CRM:Customers. Attendant to the described associations is an underlying definition that no vendor of the latter products might sign up to because they’re in the business of extending their solutions/services into the PLM space or any other space that one can think up.

Mark Holman of Arena solutions in his demo seeks to explain how PLM can:
1. Accelerate time to market
2. Streamline collaboration in the supply chain
3. Ship profitable products

Mark also compares the current state of PLM software with traditional PLM software based on the Client-Server model as opposed to the PLM as a service (SOA approach?) model – meaning that all you need is a internet connection and a web browser (Web 2.0?), that they follow.
A first cut review of the demo leads me to think of PLM as a information exchange and, product related control routing and processing tool that uses SOA to deliver its content. I’m sure that ERP vendors are hot on their heels adopting the same technology wholesale into their myriad functionalities or extending their current capabilities in that direction. Gleaning information from the demo, I’d classify PLM as an analytic tool that brings into a firm adopting it a host of its own preferred method of structuring product management, cost reductions, collaboration etc.
However, something that struck me that if ERP seeks to subsume PLM, might PLM instead replace ERP itself simply because of the ease of adoption, focus on product management rather than financial mumbo jumbo and accounting? Could PLM and CRM taken together as an integrated SOA render ERP irrelevant?

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Category: PLM, Reviews, Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Software

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