In today’s fast-paced business world, it is necessary that everything is done appropriately in order to achieve exemplary results. One of the means with which a company can boost its production while maintaining other aspects of the organization in shape is through implementing the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). PLM is referred to as a controlled and systematic concept used for developing and managing products, as well as managing various product-related information.
It also offers control and management for the processes involved in the lifecycle of the product from the moment it is developed to the moment that it reaches retirement in the scrap yard (S??ksvuori and Immonen 2008: 3). According to S??ksvuori and Immonen (2008: 3), the main purpose of product lifecycle management is to create, preserve, and store information which relates to an organization’s various activities and products. This is done in order to ensure that all of the data necessary for company’s daily operations are processed easily with no problems in shortest time possible.
Apart from these, product lifecycle management aims to ensure that all data and work which has been processed remain available for future use, regardless of when it was created, where it was created, and who created it. According to John Stark (2005: 17), PLM is the activity or process of managing a product “throughout its lifecycle”—this means that a company still cares about what happens to the product in question, even if it has already left the factory.
As far as PLM is concerned, the product’s lifecycle involves five phases: “imagination, definition, realization, support, and retirement” (Stark 2005: 17), and these phases are viewed as important in ensuring that the company is aware of the customer demand on the product, as well as the customer satisfaction provided by the product. If a company wants to develop exemplary products for the public, then it needs PLM during research, development, sales process, and during the use stage (Stark 2005: 19).
Apart from the aforementioned information, it should also be noted that PLM is also an encompassing business activity which not only addresses a company’s products, but also addresses important organizational components such as the organization’s “organizational structure, working methods, processes, people, information structures, and information systems” (Stark 2005: 16). Benefits of PLM One of the biggest benefits which PLM can offer to an organization is the fact that it can resolve problems during the design phase of the product, which can ultimately cut down on wastes, which will save costs in the long run.
If a product is already perfected in the development stages, there are bigger chances of avoiding mistakes throughout its lifecycle (Cheng, Webb, and Marsh 2004: 281). A company can attain a lot of benefits from PLM for it provides different benefits throughout the product lifecycle. By using PLM, products can get to market faster upon production, attain support for their utilization during the course of the lifecycle, and provide appropriate management as the product reaches the end of its lifecycle. PLM aims to provide several benefits in four primary areas (Stark 2007: 120): 1.
Financial performance – PLM aims to provide a company with increased profit by introducing the product early in the market and reducing development costs (Stark 2007: 120). 2. Time reduction – PLM also aims to improve the development process of a product by ensuring that the development time allotted for it is reduced (Stark 2007: 120). 3. Quality improvement – PLM aims to improve product quality by ensuring that manufacturing defects are decreased, which would reduce the number of customers returning the product, which also means that the product would get better feedback and reduce customer complaints (Stark 2007: 120). . Business improvement – PLM aims to provide an increase in the company’s “innovation rate, part reuse factor, increase product traceability, and ensure 100% configuration conformity” (Stark 2007: 120). In a nutshell, what PLM aims to achieve upon implementation is to increase the company’s profits due to higher chance of product acceptance upon introduction in the market, increase product availability in the market, decrease flaws in product design which would decrease the costs in customer care and increase customer satisfaction (Tabrizi 2007: 208).
However, PLM does not only focus on the product information, but it can also serve as an archive for other information which are relevant to the product’s success. These information include “vendor application notes, catalogs, customer feedback, marketing plans, archived project schedules” (Kapoor 2009: 2) and all forms of information which has been acquired during the product’s lifecycle (Kapoor 2009: 2).
Of course, it is necessary to state the the benefits which PLM provides is not confined to decreasing costs, increasing profits and savings, and creating company growth; it also aims to create tough, but necessary changes when it comes to “processes, practices, and methods, and gaining control over product lifecycles and lifecycle processes” (S??ksvuori and Immonen 2008: 2). SAP PLM Solution In order for an organization to survive in the continuously changing environment, there is a need to create and deliver innovative services and products which would distinguish the organization for rival organizations.
One means to ensure that one’s organization is on top of the business world is to acquire the SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM) solution; this is an application which provides an organization with support regarding product-related procedure (SAP. com c. 2010). The SAP PLM software claims to be able to aid an organization in creating innovative services and products which can create and fulfill market demand, optimize the developing processes involved in the creation of the services and products, and ensure agility with regard to taking advantage of opportunities in the business world.
Apart from these, the SAP PLM solution also aims to “improve product reliability, safety, and speed-to-market” (SAP. com c. 2010). Companies Which Implemented the PLM Solution The PLM software has been utilized by a lot of organizations since its introduction in the 1980s, for the software can be utilized in different fields, such as manufacturing, sales, finance, as well as service groups. Any organization which relies on product information can benefit from PLM for it can be customized according to the organization’s needs (Thierauf and Hoctor 2006: 80).
One organization which utilized PLM is Staples, Inc. ; the organization’s “internal designers, buyers, and financial experts” (Gelinas and Dull 2010: 37) uses the PLM software in order to collaborate with “business partners, including designers, manufacturers, and quality-test houses” (Gelinas and Dull 2010: 37) all over the world in order to come up with the best products for the organization (Gelinas and Dull 2010: 37). Another company which uses the PLM software is Heinz; the company uses it to track various ingredients which are included in the company’s line of different condiments.
Apart from these, there are a lot of large retailers and drug companies which use the PLM software to compete with other brands and improve package design (Margulius 2005). However, despite its continuously increasing popularity in the business world, it must not be taken for granted that companies such as aforementioned are not immune to the issues which may come up upon implementation of the PLM software. One problem which needs to be addressed is the size of PLM, and its scope.
People may refer to PLM in different contexts, which may confuse other organization members as to the purpose of PLM in their organization. Also, since PLM is complex software, not every individual in the organization will be able to understand its processes and employ it for the benefit of the organization (Stark 2007: 187). Summary As seen in the aforementioned discussion, PLM provides benefits to a company upon implementation by increasing profits, decreasing product development time, decreasing mistakes, and so on.
However, it must not be taken for granted that PLM is a complex concept; therefore, there is a need to ensure that people who are in-charge are appropriately trained in order to maximize the benefits gained from the PLM software. Regardless of whether PLM is effective or not, if the individuals in-charge are not fully trained for its usage, it would not be able to help the company in achieving its goals, thus, defeating the ultimate purpose of PLM.