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When Does PIM Take Over for PLM?

When Does PIM Take Over for PLM?

No one goes into a new product launch expecting failure. And yet, commonly-quoted statistics tell us that failure is exactly what we should expect.

Harvard’s Clayton Christensen is often quoted as having said that 95% of the 30,000 new products introduced annually go on to fail. Your job as a product manager is to avoid becoming just another one of those statistics.

Data and technology are your keys to avoiding product management disaster. And while a PLM (product lifecycle management) solution can go a long way to ensuring success, it can’t get the job done all on its own.

Your best bet is to find the perfect combination of PLM and PIM (product information management). There’s just one question you have to answer—where does one start and the other end?

'5 Crucial Questions You Need to Answer Before Choosing a PIM System'“Five crucial questions you need to answer before choosing PIM”.

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The Key Functions (and Shortcomings) of PLM

As the name might suggest, PLM solutions focus on the entire lifecycle of your product, including the information generated from conception to design, development, release, manufacturing, service, disposal, and retirement.

In short, PLM seems like a one-stop-shop for everything you need to ensure product success. Using PLM technology, you can create a repository for all information ever created about individual products whether it’s engineering specifications or iterations of design elements.

The problem for product managers is that PLM stops short with engineering and development. PLM systems allow the R&D team, engineers, product managers, and manufacturers to author and manage product requirements, portfolios, designs, compliance documents, and more. And while these functions are essential for any product team, product managers need more.

PLM systems aren’t set up for the customer side of your business. The technical authoring solution doesn’t have support for things like internal reporting, commercialization/service information, or integration with other systems like your ERP. 

If you want to maximize the profitability of your products, you need to address the customer-facing side of product management. And that means bringing a PIM system into the mix to pick up where PLM leaves off.

How PIM Fills the Gaps for PLM

Unlike PLM, PIM systems are focused on the customer-facing aspect of product management. Your PIM system becomes the single source of truth for all-things product information.

While there is some overlap with PLM (for example, PIM will contain product specifications), PIM goes a step further by storing images, videos, text, and documents that explain the unique value of each product. Where PLM helps engineers and designers stay on track from concept through launch, PIM can be used in two distinct ways:

  • Internal PIM: Create a centralized location for product information that can be used by sales and marketing to stay informed with ongoing changes. As changes are made, PIM systems give quick and easy access to the most current product information so internal stakeholders don’t have to waste time sifting through old or duplicate data before delivering value to prospects and customers.
  • External PIM: PIM systems are especially useful for companies that sell across a wide range of channels (web, E-Commerce, Google Shopping, catalogs, etc.). Your PIM will gather, cleanse, and synchronize all product information and distribute that data to each channel. Instead of manually trying to ensure consistency, PIM maintains customer experiences no matter how frequently you make changes to product descriptions. Where PLM mitigates risk of product quality inconsistency, PIM removes the risk of outdated or inconsistent information across channels.

Rather than trying to choose between PLM and PIM for your specific needs, you’ll see much more success by taking advantage of the strengths of both technologies.

Bridging Two Sides of Product Management with PLM and PIM

By nature, product managers wear many different hats. You have to manage the technical development side of your product, working with engineers and designers to ensure you’re bringing a quality solution to market. And you also have to work with sales marketers to ensure products reach their intended markets.

Bridging the gap between these two sides requires a cohesive product data management strategy that ensures all stakeholders share a common understanding of product information, minimizes confusion during process execution, and maintains the highest standards of quality controls.

Using PIM and PLM systems to complement one another is the best way to bridge this gap. And for many product managers, accomplishing this goal comes down to choosing a PIM system that will mesh with the PLM that’s already in place. 

Download our guide

Guide: Five crucial questions you need to answer before choosing a PIM systemIf you want to learn more about implementing a PIM system that complements your PLM, download our free guide “Five crucial questions you need to answer before choosing PIM”. 

Download guide