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PDM (Product Data Management) Buyer’s Guide

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Tech-Clarity-PDM-Buyers-Guide-2013-01-16.docx-1PDM Buyer’s Guide – Ensuring Maximum Value from Product Data Management is an educational tool to help manufacturers evaluate and select the right data management solution to improve design, product development, and engineering performance. PDM helps companies control, access, and share information. This guide offers advice and requirements related to:

  • Software functionality
  • Implementation
  • User adoption
  • Support
  • Vendor characteristics / attributes
  • Special needs for smaller or larger companies
  • Industry needs

Please enjoy the summary below, or click the report to download a PDF overview (free of charge, no registration required).

The full report is available on PTC’s PDM Resource Center (free of charge, registration required).

Table of Contents

  • Introducing the PDM Buyer’s Guide
  • The Product Data Management Imperative
  • Analyze PDM Capabilities
  • Service Requirements
  • Consider Vendor Requirements
  • Identify Unique Company Needs
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • About the Author

Introducing the PDM Buyer’s Guide

Product Data Management (PDM) is an important tool to help manufacturers overcome the complexities of designing, developing, producing, and supporting today’s products. Manual and ad-hoc approaches such as shared folders, FTP, Dropbox, and hard drives are simply not good solutions to manage critical, complex product information. These approaches may work for very small organizations, but quickly falter as organizations grow and people need to share information outside of a few core engineers. These techniques also fail to manage data relationships and complex file structures common to 3D CAD systems. PDM systems are purpose-built to address these issues. PDM is a structured, collaborative solution that helps manufacturers control, access, and share crucial product data. Selecting the right PDM system for your business has a large impact on productivity, product success, and profitability.

PDM Evaluation Framework 2012

The PDM Buyer’s Guide is a reference tool to guide you on what to look for when selecting a PDM system for your company. The guide is composed of four sections covering software functionality, service requirements, vendor attributes, and special company considerations (Figure 1). Each of these sections includes a checklist with key requirements to investigate when selecting PDM software. The guide focuses on common requirements that form the foundation of PDM for manufacturers:

  • Getting files under control so people can find the right revision with confidence
  • Making sure concurrent updates don’t overwrite each other to avoid “the last save wins” syndrome
  • Making information available outside of engineering
  • Ensuring Intellectual Property (IP) is captured and accessible regardless of who stored it
  • Getting away from complicated shared drive structures that lead to errors
  • Making sure people don’t manufacture or purchase against the wrong drawing
  • Provide “one version of the truth” versus multiple copies of designs

Beyond these basics, there are special considerations for smaller companies and for the largest of enterprises. There are also special considerations for some industries. This Buyer’s Guide points out some specific items to consider based on company size and offers a few special considerations to look for by industry. The guide goes beyond software functionality to focus on the entire experience of owning and operating the solution. The guide and associated checklists include product, infrastructure, implementation, service, and business requirements  – all of which impact the benefits received and total cost of ownership (TCO) of PDM.

The PDM Buyer’s Guide is not intended to provide an all-encompassing requirements list. Instead it covers the high points that manufacturers should look for in a PDM system. Think of this as a “PDM Litmus Test” to see if a solution is a good high-level fit for your business before spending significant time and effort analyzing detailed features and functions.

Although the checklists focus only on PDM requirements, it’s important consider more than your current needs when choosing a system. Many companies eventually want to grow beyond basic PDM.  These companies start with PDM and evolve though a maturity process to a more full Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) environment. PLM extends the core PDM foundation to support more product development and engineering processes, manage a richer view of products, include more people in product development, and support processes further upstream and downstream from Engineering in the product lifecycle (Figure 2). Consider this potential when selecting your software and ensure that your solution has the capability to expand with your growing needs.

4 Dimensions of PLM Expansion

SPEAK YOUR MIND

  1. Nice paper, Jim. It’s interesting to see that PTC is so focused on PDM. That’s good for us. . . best wishes

    • I see a lot of companies looking for PDM to control, access, and share information. Some want to move on to a more full PLM system, but others are happy getting their designs and product data under control. Both offer positive business benefits.

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