PIM or PLM: What to Choose?

What is the difference between PIM and PLM, why they confuse businesses, and how they help organizations in getting ahead of their competitors?
Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): What to Choose?

Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) are two systems that confound businesses. As similar as they may sound, industry insiders know that PIM and PLM are not the same.

How are they associated? What purposes do they serve? Are they complementary? Do they assist similar businesses? What value do they bring to the table? Does having one means you don’t need the other? Which one has a more significant part to play?

Here's discussing PIM Vs. PLM in a detailed manner

What Do They Do Stand For?

PIM: is regarded as a combination of business practices needed to manage product information (including product descriptions, technical details, SKUs, digital assets, product metadata), required primarily for product marketing and sales. It consolidates and delivers correct, complete, relevant, consistent, and compelling product information disseminated to every customer-facing channel.

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PLM: is a discipline that is enabled by software (at every step of the way) to manage products throughout all their phases of life from idea generation to prototyping, concept design to production, development, release, distribution to customers, after-sales support, and lastly to product retirement. Having the purpose of integrating product development information and processes, PLM is most beneficial to the engineering, management, and development departments.

Roles and Purposes

PIM: The role of PIM is to accumulate, consolidate, clean up, enrich, streamline, to facilitate the flow of product information to end customers. It centralizes all product-related information in a single source to execute seamless information syndication to various touchpoints and offer fulfilling product experiences. The specific purpose of PIM is to enable the marketing and selling of products; it is primarily concerned with customer-facing product information.

PLM: The specific role of PLM is to manage every single piece of information related to a product’s lifecycle. However, this does not include the information necessary for marketing or sales. It contains information related to product design, stages of development, engineering modifications and project development, product compliance, R&D, etc. PLM does not oversee or control customer-facing information; its focus is entirely on enhancing product lifecycle processes.

Related Technologies That Complicate Things

PIM: In the case of PIM, the technologies that often leave people perplexed are Master Data Management (MDM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM). Broadly speaking, PIM can be understood as a subset of MDM, and DAM can be seen as a subset of PIM. Therefore, PIM falls precisely in the middle of both (MDM>PIM>DAM). However, though all three are related, PIM has specific importance as a stand-alone system and fulfills a very significant role for enterprises.


PLM: In the case of PLM, the connected systems that confuse individuals are Product Data Management (PDM) and Product Portfolio Management (PPM). PDM is used for managing technical documentation in one place by engineering teams. On the other hand, PPM is a dedicated system to analyze and assess every product in an organization and its success, risks, and opportunities. Both PDM and PPM are subsets of PLM (PLM> PDM, PLM>PPM).

Where Do Similarities Begin and End?

The similarity begins from the fact that both are a single source of truth—PIM stores all product-related information. PLM stores every bit of product-related data needed to engineer, design, manage and conduct R&D from start to finish. They both aim to improve efficiency (for PLM in the product development process, PIM in information dissemination and accuracy). Both contribute towards getting products to the market faster and reducing costs. Both are innovation-centric and are focused on bringing better value and growth to businesses. And that is where the similarity ends, as PIM and PLM are needed for particular purposes.


Can Both the Systems Be Deployed Together? How?

Yes, both PIM and PLM can not only be deployed simultaneously, but they also complement each other. While PIM assists organizations to become swift, consistent, and compliant by transforming the flow of marketing and sales-related information intended for the organization’s target audience, PLM concentrates on product creation, development, and eventually product retirement or discontinuation. PIM and PLM together can streamline the entire product data of an enterprise from product inception to getting it delivered to the buyer’s doorstep. Some of the product data that originates in PLM can trickle to PIM, for example, technical features and descriptions. This data can then be enhanced and made available on external, customer-facing channels. However, this is not true for PLM, as generally, none of the data in PIM is needed by PLM.


Wrapping Up: The Changemakers

Every product that’s manufactured in an organization goes through several phases, and so does its data. Both PIM and PLM work as change agents for businesses. Organizations that develop products can leverage sophisticated workflows and automation, which PLM offers and aid product creation. At the same time, PIM helps maintain the quality of product data delivered outside the enterprise for improved customer experiences. Both work towards streamlining product data, decrease redundancy and enhance efficiency. In terms of the users of both, PLM data is used mainly by developers, technicians, designers, product teams, suppliers; information in PIM is chiefly utilized by marketers, sales personnel, and field reps.

In short, their roles are different but essential, valuable, but separate; both can help you edge out the competition. Whether they are needed together or not is a choice that businesses must make. But one thing is certain—one can’t replace the other.

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Author:Rakesh Kumar
Rakesh Kumar
  • Chief Solutions Officer
7 articles by this author

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