Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product. PLM began in industries where safety and control were critical. Over time, manufacturers from a variety of industries have adopted PLM, including consumer electronics, packaged goods, engineering and design.
PLM strategic processes include:
- Cost reduction
- Scaling to meet demand
- Extending duration of profitable years
- Maximizing profitability as product sales decline
Companies rely on PLM software to manage the entire lifecycle of a product efficiently and cost-effectively. Engineering, marketing and services utilize PLM to share information and data across design, quality, manufacturing and business. From managing the design to exporting data for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, PLM follows the product’s lifecycle and is typically divided into the following stages:
- Beginning of life (BOL): New product development, design processes and product launch
- Middle of life (MOL): Collaboration with suppliers, product information management (PIM) and warranty management
- End of life (EOL): Strategies for how the product discontinuation, disposal or recycling
PLM software systematizes and automates administrative processes by creating a central hub for all product and design information and data. This hub is accessible to everyone involved in the process including engineering, manufacturing, contractors and vendors. It is especially helpful as a business grows to maintain clear and constant communication between overseas suppliers and design engineers.
Essentially, PLM is incredibly complex and it helps companies manage the growth, maturity and decline of their products. PLM helps large teams, spread out across the globe, gain insight into the lifecycle of their products from start to finish. It helps them determine if scaling is a good idea, establishes competitive advantages to maintain or grow the market share and supports the examination of production volume.
PLM streamlines the product development cycle by:
- Shortening the time for products to get to market
- Reducing costs
- Improving product quality
PLM vs. PDM
Many companies use PLM and product data management (PDM) tools side by side and sometimes they overlap. While PLM focuses on processes as they relate to a product’s lifecycle, PDM focuses on managing and improving design data as it relates to product development. When combined with CAD software, for example, PDM becomes a highly specialized design environment.
Because PLM leverages PDM to manage product lifecycles, remake processes and increase output, G2 Crowd has listed PDM and PLM tools together under the umbrella of PLM. And this is how we have one PDM product in our list of top PLM software.
- Arena PLM
- Omnify Empower PLM
- PropelPLM Suite
- Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM
- Autodesk Vault
From Aerospace and defense, to food and beverage, just about any company can reap the benefits of PLM. When products are this extensive and used by so many people, customer satisfaction is key for deciding which PLM to implement into your business processes.
The G2 Crowd Customer satisfaction rating is affected by:
- Customer satisfaction with end-user-focused product attributes based on user reviews.
- Popularity and statistical significance based on the number of reviews received by G2 Crowd.
- Quality of reviews received (reviews that are more thoroughly completed will be weighted more heavily).
- Age of reviews (more recent reviews provide relevant and up-to-date information that is reflective of the current state of a product).
- Customers’ satisfaction with administration-specific product attributes based on user reviews.
- Overall customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score® (NPS) based on ratings by G2 Crowd users.
Here are the best PLM software products determined by customer satisfaction via user reviews as of Nov. 20, 2017.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Product Name: Arena PLM
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Arena PLM combines PLM, supply chain collaboration and quality management systems (QMS) into a single platform to streamline product development, improve quality and reduce time to market.
- Bill of Materials (BOM) Management: centralized, unlimited, function-specific, customizable, cost calculation and breakdown analysis, substitutes and more
- Compliance, change, project, quality, document and item management
- Demand analysis: material demand calculation, flexible source inclusion, full result export, cost integration, repeatable analyses and more
- Business Intelligence: in-context analytics, configurable dashboards and more
- Supplier Collaboration: AML redefining, file management, quick sign-up, full vendor spec, sourcing BOM, supplier notes and more
- Enterprise Integration: Cloud-based single sign-on, arena API, ERP exchange, scheduled outputs, EDA integrations and more
What users say
Users agree that Arena offers a flexible and customized workspace that manages complex products with ease.
“The sheer usability of Arena is unmatched, both from the standpoint of universal access through the cloud-based interface as well as the flexibility and fluid customization of the workspace. Simply put, you can set up Arena PLM to support nearly any project you can imagine from your PHONE is a matter of minutes.” — Arena PLM review by Roget R.
According to an Arena PLM review by David P., “I have implemented Arena singlehandedly at two start-ups, and I am extremely happy with the product. It has all of the power anyone could need, and is also easily customized. I have been able to import BOMs and be up in running in a matter of days. I have used other PLM systems in the past at both large and small companies — Arena leaves nothing to be desired.”
Arena PLM integrates with a variety cloud and on-site business systems, including Netsuite ERP, Oracle E-Business Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, QAD ERP, Expandable ERP, Sage, Kenandy, Rootstock, SAP Business ByDesign and more.
- Predefined configuration templates
- Easy-to-use import wizard enables clean data import
- Set up your own change process to put data under revision control
- $89 per seat per month
- Customer configurations vary
- Annual subscription required
Product Name: Omnify Empower PLM
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Omnify Empower PLM system can address the needs of manufacturers from start-ups to thousands of users with an easy-to-use and quick-to-implement system.
- Bill of material (BOM)
- System integration
- Item, parts and document management
- Change, project and training management
- Quality, compliance and issue management
What users say
Users agree that the Omnify Empower PLM’s integrations provide them with unlimited solutions.
“The fact that almost everything is configurable (attributes, process flows etc.) is a huge pro compared to other PLM tools I have seen.” — Omnify Empower PLM review by Gerard M.
“The support team is superlative,” according to an Omnify Empower PLM review by Joel B. “Questions are answered timely; often suggesting methods beyond what we had originally conceived. The system allows for unlimited creative solutions. Many times looking at an issue and attempting to solve it via Omnify allowed us to come up with a very slick solution that was unlike what we had originally envisioned.”
Omnify Empower PLM integrates with a variety of ERP, product data management and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions including Aptean, Deltek Vision, Netsuite ERP, Oracle E-Business Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, QAD ERP, Epicor ERP, Expandable ERP, Infor ERP and Sage.
- Contact Omnify Empower PLM for a quote
Product Name: PropelPLM Suite
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars
Built on the Salesforce platform, PropelPLM Suite helps businesses define, update and share product changes from the beginning of product development to product usage.
- Requirements management
- BOM management
- Change and configuration management
- Project management
- Product commercialization
- Quality management
What users say
Users agree that PropelPLM Suite provides exceptional customer support.
“The Propel team is an exceptional group of bright, helpful, talented people that do not take their responsibility lightly, and do not put you at risk. I have never had such a smooth, painless deployment with a superior level of support from Propel. The best thing about Propel is the people, who quickly become your partner in success.” — PropelPLM Suite review by Al F.
“The best part about PropelPLM is the fantastic customer support. They walk you through importing your data and provide fast responses for any questions. Our data was imported quickly and seamlessly and their team was very accommodating to new requests.” — PropelPLM Suite review by Jordan S.
Sync the latest product designs through integration with AscentERP.
- Salesforce cloud platform
- Everyone plan: $45 per user, per month, billed annually
- Essential plan: $90 per user, per month, billed annually
- Enterprise plan: $120 per user, per month, billed annually
Product Name: Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM focuses on product development processes across a variety of industries including industrial machinery and products, consumer electronics, automotive suppliers and medical devices.
- New product information (NPI)
- Change, quality and product data management
- Supplier collaboration
What users say
Users agree that ability to customize the solution to their workflow makes this solution indispensable.
“The ability to customize the software to our workflow that we need to fit our company path. The fact that we can create a similar look for completely different workflows is a blessing as well for smoother transition from task to task.” — Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM review by Kevin M.
“The high level of customization and ‘you can pretty much do anything you want’ vibe of the whole application,” is what Johnny B. likes best according to their Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM review. “For instance, the way in which any team’s workflows can be directly translated to a block diagram is very powerful, and the scripting engine allows for some pretty deep add-on customization.”
Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM uses Jitterbit to simplify and accelerate integrations with a variety of CRMs and ERPs.
- Pro plan: $75 per user, per month
- Enterprise plan: $150 per user, per month
- Free trials are available
Product Data Management (PDM)
Product Name: Autodesk Vault
G2 Crowd Star Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Autodesk Vault helps designers and engineers track, collaborate and manage product development cycles.
- Share 2D or 3D views
- Configure files to replace, reuse or copy to use in new designs
- Multiple teams can make concurrent designs from one central location
- Easy administration and configuration
- Multisite scalability
- Stronger data security
- Fast data searching
What users say
Users agree that Autodesk Vault’s ease of use is key.
“It’s easy interface makes navigation and conducting tasks seamless.” — Autodesk Vault review by Chris R.
“Vault is very easy to use,” reads an Autodesk Vault review by Ryan S. “After reading a few install documents, I was able to set up Vault on a local server and train my colleagues on it’s use. It greatly helped in coordinating our engineering functions on several projects and kept pesky file management conflicts to a minimum. My favorite feature is that Vault allows you to work off your local machine instead of the network via your own personal ’Workspace’. Once files are checked out to you, they are saved to your local machine and you are free to work on them until you check them back into the network server. This will greatly speed up your workflow.”
Autodesk Vault integrates with SharePoint and Autodesk design for direct CAD applications.
- Vault Workgroup: $335 for 1 year, $670 for 2 year and $1,005 for 3-year subscriptions
- Vault Professional: $635 for 1 year, $1,270 for 2 year and $1,905 for 3-year subscriptions
- 3-year student and educator licenses available
- Free product trials are available
Those researching PLM and PDM products can sift through hundreds of verified user reviews on G2 Crowd to find the best option for them. Check out the PLM software category, where you can compare products, discover available features and read user reviews.
* Please note: Reviews have been edited for spelling and grammar.