PLM structures help a company track their product from idea to completion.

Product lifecycle management (PLM)

What is Product Lifecycle Management? 

PLM represents the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from ideation, product innovation, product development, manufacturing, and product commercialization. PLM software integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise.

Product lifecycle management is one of the three cornerstones of a corporation’s information technology structure. All companies need to manage communications and information with their customers (CRM-Customer relationship management), their suppliers (SCM-Supply Chain Management), and their resources within the company enterprise (ERP-Enterprise Resource Planning). Food companies must also develop, describe, manage and communicate information about their products.

The following diagram illustrates integrated business information dependencies within a food and beverage company managed by PLM. PLM functions as an electronic data and document management hub for information that is typically not managed by the enterprise ERP system (Examples include SAP, Oracle, INFOR, etc.). The PLM software program database usually sits on a dedicated SQL server, and is traditionally managed within the R&D Department although it can be managed within any department. The reason for housing the product within a combined R&D/QA department is because these departments are held responsible for new product ideation, innovation, development, and product commercialization Stage Gate (or similar) workflow processes. PLM benefits the QA department because it facilitates electronic document and revision control of ingredient and product specifications. The diagram also shows how PLM can centrally manage laboratory analysis information, nutritional labeling information (using Genesis R&D or similar programs), electronic sensory and consumer information, manufacturing statistical process control information, etc.  It could also be use in the QSR industry by Purchasing, Procurement, or Supply Chain Management departments to electronically manage contracts, product data sheets, product costing (which might reside locally if a company does not have an ERP system), and other business information.


    • Document Management and Data Mining
    • Ingredient Tracking and Tracing
    • Specification Management & Version Control
    • Certification Process Workflow & Doc Management
    • Synchronization with Marketing Calendar
    • Connectivity to Nutritional Database
    • Connectivity to statistical process control QA data
    • Integration with customer PLM or databases
    • New Product Development & Commercialization Workflow Management


    • Communication with external ‘private label’ customers
    • Communication with ‘internal customers’
    • Multilayered security rights
    • Delete obsolescent plants, products, and specifications
    • Receive, file, and track external supplier product information
    • Store, retrieve, and modify external certification organizations information
    • Provide external customers regulatory information– i.e. certification, QA/Food safety audit agencies
    • Connectivity with EDI Order Management Process
    • Provide confirmation emails that critical information has been accepted and read by ‘internal employee customers’
    • Facilitates multiple plants and suppliers information sharing and collaboration
    • Reporting capabilities like schedule reports, etc. via Report Writer tools, etc., as well as report distribution internally and externally
    • CRM or Customer Relationship Management contact management
    • Stress-free Document Management capabilities SUCH AS Data Mining – into formulas, ingredients, plants, and packaging
    • View Inventory Management information – I.e. SKU stock level status
    • Store and mine sales information, as well as sales history
    • Create and Manage ‘Work Flow’ processes
    • Search and Track Audit trails
    • Category Management (Sales and Marketing) – requires process documentation
    • Brand Management (Marketing) – requires process documentation
    • Tactical and Strategic Product Management – requires process documentation
    • Integration of Marketing Calendar
    • Process Re-engineering
    • Web Publishing