Product Life-cycle Management is the process of managing the life-cycle of a product from conception, through design and manufacture, to service and eventual disposal. It encompasses the people, data, processes, and systems associated with a product. It's a fundamental component of good supply chain management as the fundamental goal of supply chain management is to get products and services from suppliers who produce them to buyers who consume them in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
Product Life-cycle Management solutions are often employed by companies looking to implement six sigma or lean methodologies because they can provide:
- complete process visibility compared to the limited process visibility that may be the norm without a solution
- a centralized, usually web-based, point of control compared to the lack of a central control point without a product life-cycle management solution
- one version of the product status and truth which can be difficult to obtain in a multi-system approach
- workflow management
- an integration point for the various systems used in the various stages of product design, development, and merchandising
Product Life-cylce Management solutions come in many shapes and sizes, and should not be confused with Product Information Management solutions which are a subset of solutions that only focus on the management of the designs, schematics, and documentation related to a product. They may be developed as traditional behind-the-firewall solutions or on-demand Software-as-a-Service solutions and may include expert-systems that guide the process in addition to knowledge management components that capture all of the information related to the product.
For more information on Product Life-cycle Management in the supply chain, please review the following posts: