Digital Strategy

What’s the Difference Between PDM and PLM Systems?

Which collaboration tools are the right choice for replacing cluttered email chains — and helping you deliver product success for your team and customers?

Modern enterprises are in a constant race to bring quality products to market faster, and the stakes are higher in 2020 than ever before.

How many minutes can you afford to waste tracking down the right product design files?

How many emails can you send highlighting revised product versions before your competitor gets to market before you do?

How many times can you afford to miss crucial product quality issues before it’s too late?

To remain competitive, you have to get rid of tedious manual business processes and inefficient communication silos. Let’s determine which collaboration tools are the right choice for replacing cluttered email chains and helping you deliver product success for your team and your customers.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) vs. Product Data Management (PDM)

Targeted software and technology tools are necessary to ensure product workflows, milestones, and business processes are in place. The two main tools for product collaboration on the market fall under Product Data Management (PDM) or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Here’s a refresher:

tools help engineering teams organize product design files and maintain consistency across versions while they develop and update products, ensuring there exists a single version of each file and that each product update change is tracked.  

Why use a PDM? 

  • Innovating new products is far from instantaneous—it takes time and lots of trial and error to successfully launch a product. Designs go through several iterations to meet consumer needs, allocated supply chain and resource costs, and manufacturing feasibility goals. 
  • Since most products will have multiple parts and files that link together, it’s important to keep them organized in hierarchical folders to prevent errors, which PDM tools can simplify.

PLM tools enable companies to get quality and innovative products to market faster while reducing costs, improving product throughput, and facilitating contextual collaboration from concept to customer. PLM ensures that the assumptions made during the innovation management phase are actually feasible and can solve the customer’s pain points. 

Why use a PLM? 

  • PLM captures and manages the whole product lifecycle by sharing a broader set of product data than a PDM tool shares, which may include bills of materials, manufacturing data, design approvals, packaging, marketing information, and much more. 
  • This breaks down communication silos across various internal and external teams such as engineering, operations, quality, procurement, logistics, suppliers, sales, and marketing, enhancing collaboration and productivity. 

How they work together

PDM and PLM systems function best when successfully integrated with each other to provide visibility into design files, workflows, and change management processes in order for your team to bring highly innovative and quality products to market quickly.

Large and small enterprises making anything from medical devices to consumer products use both PDM and PLM software to manage the data and lifecycle of product development, enabling real-time contextual collaboration with consistency in bills of materials and part numbers — every manufacturer’s dream! 

Plus, with a closed PLM-to-PDM feedback loop, teams from engineering to services can gather insights from customer feedback and leverage them to design improved products. 

Today’s consumers expect cutting-edge innovative products, and the emerging mobile-first workforce expects to complete their work efficiently with modern and intuitive tools that fit their requirements. Getting products from an idea to the hands of the customers at lightning speed is the need of the hour. So what are you waiting for?

PDM vs PLM infographic

To learn more about the differences between PDM and PLM tools, and how they can work together for your team, download our infographic here.


Lance Conard


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