There are several new products introduced into the market every day. But only a small percentage of them are successful, and the others can’t hang around and survive in the market. The cause is that they either fall short of client expectations or are introduced before the market is prepared. It is due to fundamental issues of how you manage product lifecycle. In this article, we provide an in-depth guide of the product life cycle and discuss ways to implement successful product management.
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What is product lifecycle management (PLM)?
Definition of product lifecycle management (PLM)
What is product lifecycle management? Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing a product’s lifecycle from conception to sales, servicing, and eventually retirement. It is a sophisticated process that uses technology to assist you in creating, capturing, managing, and using your products to help your firm optimize earnings.
Fundamental of product lifecycle management (PLM)
The ultimate goal when manage product life cycle is to produce a product that outperforms its competitors, is highly profitable, and lasts as long as consumer demand and technology permit. This is accomplished by bringing together the numerous companies, departments, and employees involved in the product’s production to streamline their operations. It involves much more than just creating a bill of materials (BOM). Although PLM can also be seen as a business strategy, 3 fundamentals have an impact on how teams function and an organization’s capacity for expansion and success:
- Information about product definitions is accessible and used globally in a secure manner.
- maintaining the accuracy of the product definition and all relevant data over the duration of the product
- Management and upkeep of the business procedures used to produce, handle, distribute, and exchange, and use the information
PLM solutions aid businesses in managing the engineering difficulties and the complexity of designing new products. One of the four pillars of a manufacturing company’s information technology framework, along with managing communications with customers (customer relationship management, or CRM), dealing with suppliers (supply chain management, or SCM), and managing resources within the company (enterprise resource planning [ERP]).
How a product is marketed depends on how you manage product life cycle and what stage of its life cycle it is in. For instance, it is necessary to describe a new product (one that is in the introduction stage), whereas it is necessary to differentiate a mature product. PLM can also have an impact on a product’s most basic components. A product can continue to develop even after it reaches maturity.
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How does a product lifecycle management system work?
A PLM system provides designers and engineers with immediate access to the vital data they want. The solution streamlines project management by managing this product data across the whole product development lifecycle and connecting CAD (computer-aided design) data with a bill of materials and other corporate data sources, such as connectivity with an ERP system.
PLM also prevents designers and engineers from working in a disconnected vacuum by providing them with access to external information sources such as customer and analyst feedback on existing products, performance information on products in use, and visibility into the constraints of downstream processes like manufacturing.
A PLM system aids teams in ways other than design and engineering. It can give business stakeholders and/or suppliers a “single source of truth” for input early in the product life cycle management process.
Prime examples of PLM product lifecycle management
PLM systems are frequently utilized in the manufacturing industry. Aerospace, automobile, and defense are important industries when it comes to how to manage product life cycle. These three companies are utilizing PLM in novel ways:
- Humboldt Wedag, a cement industry leader, developed a responsive, future-proof PLM solution to let employees collaborate on design processes in many languages and across three continents.
- Kaeser Kompressoren, a prominent manufacturer and supplier of compressed air solutions, improved the design process for new products with a centralized solution that promotes collaboration and efficiency.
- VACUUBRAND, an industrial vacuum equipment supplier, reduced product development time and improved product and data quality by replacing disparate legacy systems with an integrated PLM solution.
The fictional business Dog Cone is also the best prime illustration of engineering product life cycle management across the product life cycle stages, as it:
- Product development: The Dog Cone is established as a result of the concept for a novel, healthy ice cream dessert for dogs. The product is created, tested, and subject to regulatory oversight. Dog Cone is able to efficiently produce, obtain, and distribute the new dog treat by coordinating the efforts of all the departments, from supply chain to manufacturing and marketing. Only a few well-placed boutique pet stores in important influencer markets are launching the product.
- Product expansion: Chain pet retailers and more start carrying Dog Cone snacks. New packaging is introduced, and distributor recruitment efforts are ongoing.
- Product maturity: Similar items from new competitors have joined the market, and peak demand has been attained. Dog Cone introduces new flavors, various sizes, and eye-catching new packaging to stay competitive.
- Product decline: Dog Cone uses lessons learnt to grow its business in the face of rising competition and market saturation. The Dog Cone crew is more cohesive thanks to PLM. Standardizing procurement has advantages for the supply chain. Continuous learning and software integration are advantageous for planning, conceptual design, product and manufacturing engineering, among other disciplines.
Benefits of Product Lifecycle Management
Product lifecycle management services enable your business to manage information so that it is valid, clear, and succinct. With precise data and improved communication, businesses may develop ideas for new goods and features, launch products more quickly, ramp up to full production more quickly, and gain a larger part of the market. In conclusion, PLM enables businesses to save money and advance their time to market by:
- Managing information centrally
- Keeping data precise
- Collaborating easier
- Accelerating the time to full output
- Increasing market share
- Pricing properly
- Finding innovative product and functionality ideas
Additionally, if businesses manage product life cycle, they can improve product quality, increase product safety, increase sales potential, and decrease errors and waste. It can also help companies bring their products to market more quickly and at a higher level of quality. It is possible to use specialized computer software to support PLM through features like document management, design integration, and process management. As well as these advantages:
- Product reliability and quality enhancement
- Expenses for prototyping’s reduction
- More precise and timely requests for quotes (RFQ), often known as supplier solicitations
- Rapid recognition of sales possibilities and income sources
- Savings from reusing original data
- A framework for product optimization
- Less waste
- Improved ability to control seasonal variation
- Enhanced forecasting to cut material costs
- Increased supply chain collaboration
Why do companies need to manage product life cycle?
For businesses, complexity is a huge concern. This complexity is only increasing due to the interaction between product design, supply chain management, distribution, and customer feedback. In addition, prices are falling due to increased global competition, rules are continuously changing, and your company needs high-quality, quick-to-market products to be profitable. That’s why they need to manage product life cycle.
Consider each step in the lifetime of a product, how they relate to one another, and how to put the technology in place to manage each step if you want to succeed. A proactive knowledge capture strategy, teamwork encouragement and facilitation, and easy access to information across the organization are all benefits of effective PLM. These factors assist organizations shorten the time to market and increase go-to-market.
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5 Phases of typical product development cycle
There is no single industry standard for how to characterize the stages of product development because there are numerous alternatives when it comes to how to manage product life cycle. The phases listed below, however, illustrate a normal development cycle.
- Concept and design: The ideation stage in which a product’s specifications are established in light of considerations such as competitive analysis, market insufficiencies, or consumer needs.
- Develop: The product’s precise design, as well as any required tool designs, will be made. The anticipated product is validated and analyzed during this phase, as well as a prototype is developed and put through field testing. This yields crucial information about how the product is utilized and what improvements are required.
- Production and launch: The design and other elements are modified in response to feedback from the pilot to create a version that is ready for the market. Scaled production of the new product is carried out before it is released and distributed to consumers.
- Service and support: The time frame during which service and support are provided after the introduction of a new product.
- Retirement: Managing the product’s removal from the market at the end of its lifecycle, as well as any retrials or incorporation into other concept ideas, is necessary.
Product lifecycle management in the future
The pressure to launch products ahead of rivals, entice great people, and produce goods with the highest quality possible utilizing sustainable processes will only grow over time. PLM can assist in meeting these demands with quicker, more meticulous design and product engineering cycles, but only if businesses make the necessary technological investments.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing more devices online, and designers and engineers stand to gain significantly more insight on products in use as well as the potential to upgrade products that are already in customers’ hands. This enables producers to continue producing new consumer value over the course of the product life cycle.
- With the goal of attaining comprehensive supply chain sustainability, organizations will look to update their product lifecycle management processes through green industrial design, production, and logistics as sustainability continues to gain prominence.
- PLM systems are increasingly available as software as a service in the cloud, similar to other types of enterprise software (SaaS). This will increase PLM’s accessibility to smaller businesses and foster the kind of teamwork that successful product development teams require as their workforces become more dispersed.
- Digital twins are virtual representations of a product that are maintained by PLM systems and connected to their actual “twin” via IoT. Digital twins are a relatively new idea, but it is anticipated that they will help manufacturers save a lot of money in the years to come. By 2023, 65% of global manufacturers will have achieved 10% operating expense savings, according to IDC, thanks to process digital twins powered by IoT and machine intelligence.
Which challenges companies have to confront in managing product life cycle processes?
Less than half of R&D executives currently claim to have knowledge of the entire design-to-delivery process. This shows that PLM has not yet fully realized its potential for many organizations as a lone source of product truth.
Additionally, as Industry 4.0 practices are increasingly adopted in the manufacturing sector, the amount of data that is available about products and customers has grown dramatically. This has improved visibility throughout the product life cycle. Sharing data between PLM entities could improve PLM product lifecycle management, but only if the data is accurately collected, properly analyzed, and safely shared. This emphasizes the importance of integrating AI, machine learning, and data encryption.
To sum up, some of the biggest PLM challenges are:
- System, process, and departmental disconnect
- Poor quality data
- Frequent change orders
- Higher inefficiencies with different tools
Finally, many PLM proponents find it difficult to explain the software’s value outside of engineering. In each of the aforementioned scenarios, investing in a solution that connects with current enterprise systems and has built-in artificial intelligence would boost its usability and value for the entire organization.
How to measure the effectiveness of Product Lifecycle Management
The following measures can be used to assess the success of your PLM efforts:
- Team productivity: With better communication and information sharing, productivity should rise overall.
- Quality of output: Strong PLM lowers process waste and enhances product quality, including a higher first-pass yield, or the number of flawless units produced.
- Efficiency in time-to-market: PLM helps businesses meet product launch deadlines by standardizing procedures and consolidating information to increase effectiveness.
- Budgets for product development: Integrating ERP software modules improves efficiency by reducing labor-intensive operations and increasing the effectiveness of your employees. This aids in cost management.
- Revenue from new products: PLM of high caliber produces better-quality items that reach the market more quickly, increasing revenue.
- Cycle time: PLM keeps track of the amount of time it takes to develop and introduce new products (cycle time). Incorporate all aspects, including testing, marketing, and design.
- Product life: How long does the average client utilize a product for? As a benchmark for upcoming efforts, compare that to historical statistics.
- Product waste: Look into the amount of waste produced by each new product.
- Warranty claims and the dependability of products: Are your items long-lasting? Analyze the number of products sold and the number of warranty claims to see how many are discovered to be defective or problematic.
As we have seen, the traditional product life cycle operations management depicts a path with distinct phases and swift strategic alterations. You scale, seize a sizable portion of the market, and then restrict risk at the first indications of a decline. But it’s not always the ideal approach to developing a product that users would adore. Knowing your consumer and maintaining a continuous feedback loop between user and product discovery are both necessary for developing a product that people will enjoy and continue to adore. You may anticipate wants, comprehend frustrations, and respond with an agile, iterative lifecycle to satisfy customers all the way through to manage product life cycle.