Tips for Implementing a PLM Methodology in Your Organization

Key Takeaways

  • An electronic product’s lifecycle includes multiple phases, ranging from initial design to retirement from market.

  • There is no single workflow for PLM, but software tools allow companies to implement their own PLM methodology.

  • Electronics companies need PLM solutions that create convergence between design and manufacturing teams.

 PLM manufacturing graphic

Product lifecycle management (PLM) software is used by companies in all industries to coordinate and manage product development efforts. These software platforms are built with the understanding that products follow a particular lifecycle, beginning with introduction and low sales but eventually peaking at full maturity. PLM systems are designed to allow industries to implement management processes surrounding product development, manufacturing, and distribution throughout each phase of the product life cycle.

PLM is clearly important for coordinating organizational resources and effort around the development and distribution of a product in a go-to-market strategy. The question surrounding PLM often becomes, what is the best PLM methodology that is implemented with PLM software platforms? Because no two companies are exactly alike, and processes involved in PLM will differ at various companies, any organization implementing a PLM methodology will have to develop its own processes as part of PLM.

While we can’t offer a one-size-fits-all PLM methodology that works for every company, we can offer tips on how to develop PLM processes that are enabled with the best PLM software platforms.

Tips for Developing a PLM Methodology

Implementing a PLM system and methodology in an organization is all about fusing management processes with software tools across multiple teams in an organization. Processes are key to implementing all of the important design, engineering, manufacturing, and distribution tasks needed to bring products to market and sustain their lifecycles for as long as possible. When developing and implementing a PLM methodology, the goal is to address the links between these phases of the product lifecycle, the people who will execute important tasks, and the technology that allows everything to be tracked and managed.

The electronics industry is so diverse that it is difficult to formulate a single PLM methodology for every product. However, enterprises making the shift away from disjointed systems to a single, unified PLM system for product management should follow these tips when selecting and implementing their solution.

1. Identify Pain Points and Determine Goals

While it might sound like a simple consideration, companies need to determine exactly what their goals are before building a process around a PLM system. Companies that handle all aspects of product management, spanning across development, manufacturing, and distribution, will need a system and processes that create a fully integrated approach to product management. This means the marketing and sales collateral will need to be in the same place as technical application data.

2. Understand PLM vs. Project Management

PLM takes a 30,000 ft. view of a product, whereas project management looks at the individual tasks involved in managing each phase of a product’s life cycle. If you already have a project management system in place, the PLM platform and methodology should operate at a higher level, where teams are assigned broad tasks that are managed within the lower-level project management platform at the team or group level. Part of a PLM methodology is to efficiently assign objectives rather than tasks.

3. Integrate Teams and Processes

A PLM methodology will be affected by cross-organizational interactions. In electronics, we focus a lot on product development, but there are also functions like sales, quality control, sourcing/procurement, and customer success that will need to work within the PLM system and processes. It’s important to understand that PLM processes extend to several teams and systems that must communicate with each other effectively. The challenge in developing a PLM process is to implement high-level management tasks that accommodate each stakeholder’s processes and methodologies such that all stakeholders can work together and benefit from cooperation.

Integration Keeps Teams Efficient

In the software world, and specifically with SaaS platforms, modern software products will integrate with complementary software so that teams can develop processes around multiple systems. Cloud PLM systems are excellent examples, some of which can pull data from ERP systems, CAD/CAM applications, inventory management applications, documentation servers, version control systems, and on-premise databases. A scalable PLM methodology in an enterprise environment will rely on much more than just a single application or platform to manage product lifecycles.

Depending on the needs of individual products, a PLM methodology will need to incorporate tasks from multiple applications and functional groups:

  • Collaboration programs that help team members exchange information as part of development, customer success, manufacturing, and design changes.

  • CAD programs where physical designs are created and converted into manufacturing files to be used in volume production.

  • Version control applied to all product data, ranging from documentation to critical manufacturing information and CAD data for the physical design.

  • Supply chain visibility services from 3rd party vendors, which can provide lifecycle statuses on critical parts in an assembly and flag these for replacement by design and sourcing teams.

  • Quality management systems that aggregate and analyze production data provided by quality engineering teams or contract manufacturers.

Today’s PLM platforms can provide a single reference for all data related to a product’s function, production, and operation in the field. Critical team members and project stakeholders can get the visibility they need with a PLM system and methodology.

If you are looking for a scalable solution, consider Allegro Pulse. Pulse features include a workflow engine, data management, security protocols, and search capabilities. And, Pulse integrates seamlessly into many design tools, allowing it to manage the design data behind the scenes, freeing up engineers to focus on their work instead of juggling design files.

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to our team of experts

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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