Okay, PDM VS PLM  may merit some brief discussion; one contains the other, they follow the same basic rules, and are affected by the same basic stimuli. One is not the other directly, but comparing them in this kind of scenario is not easy.

Defining PDM:

PDM is product data management. It’s basically the product version of version control. Whenever a model of a product (caused by variation of different facets) is released, specific concerns, requirements and outcomes of these variations are documented, as well as which versions were sent to which customers or vendors at which time.

This is important information because it tracks the where and when of different incarnations, and allows customer service and support, as well as R&D and the like, to be able to address the proper incarnation of the product when it comes up.

This is very important to do, but people often neglect this, and that results in the kinds of fiascos you hear about in the news where customer service and support messes up, or bad product causes a number of problems itself.

Defining PLM:

PLM is product lifecycle management, which is the maintenance and guidance (as well as observation and measurement/response) of the product as it goes through a lifecycle.

This includes its research and development (either in modification or inception), testing marketing, production, distribution, and yes, the PDM duties that come along with these, as well as support and training and other boring crap like that we’ve all talked to absolute death by this time in history.

You heard me. PDM is a part of PLM, so they are not alternatives to one another, nor are they mutually exclusive at all. You need lifecycle management to handle the actual process of inventing or refining a product, producing it, making the public aware and wanting for it, and so on.

PDM, you need, to make sure different variations are accurately addressed when different ones come along.

So, What Then:

That’s what I’ve been asking this entire time we’ve been talking. Why am I even addressing something this absurd? Why, because until someone like me puts my foot down and points out that this way of thinking is pointless, people will keep doing it.

So, if you came here looking to find out why they’re different, or which one is better by some standard of that, then you’re a little disappointed, I’m sure. Well, learning something is always good, even if the answer we get is not the one we had hoped for or had expected.

So, PDM VS PLM is a moot discussion, since one is just part of another. I want to not see this come up anymore, internet, now that you know better.


Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.