This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best product lifecycle management software and other PLM solutions.
Product lifecycle management is a process in which companies can track, control, and influence the introduction and growth of their product in order to keep it relevant in the market for as long as possible. PLM solutions are important in eCommerce operations because they provide a central place for managing the development, design, launch, and marketing of a product from start to finish.
In this post, I’ll highlight a few of the best PLM package options for enterprise lifecycle control and give a synopsis of some noteworthy product management tools currently on the market.
PLM Software vs PDM Software
PDM vs PLM...what’s the difference? Product lifecycle management (PLM) and product data management (PDM) share some similarities, namely that they are both centered around processes designed to unify and control a business asset—be it a product/service item or a collection of data. Sometimes these two processes meet in “product data management” operations, which do all of the above.
PLM tools are centered around the planning, design, execution, testing, launch, and marketing of a single product or series of products. PLM is a strategic business approach that touches many areas of the product development process and can be useful for everyone from engineers to stakeholders.
PLM tends to encompass:
- Milestones or stage gates
- CAD/BOM syncing
- Change management processes.
PDM tools, on the other hand, are all about the collection, navigation, storage, and security of a different type of asset: data. PDM focuses on being fast and easy to maintain; it is a tool only for engineers and tends to be cheaper than the “all-encompassing” nature of PLM.
PDM tends to encompass:
- Controlling and maintaining a “master file”
- Tracking each change with each new version update
- Assigning part numbers for each part/file across the overarching assembly
- Digital asset management software
The Best PLM Software
Here’s a shortlist of the best product management lifecycle software:
- SAP PLM
- Oracle Agile
- Siemens Teamcenter
- Bamboo Rose
- Aras PLM
- NGC PLM
- Centric Retail PLM
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Overviews Of The Top PLM Application Options
Here’s a brief description of each of the PLM process tools that are featured on this top 10 PLM software list.
1. SAP PLM - Best PLM for enterprises
SAP is an large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool and CRM/customer relations software company based in Germany that offers several product management solutions like product costing, engineering, and compliance. As part of their package, they partner with Siemens’ Teamcenter to provide a full service product lifecycle management tool.
SAP offers a ton of product lifecycle solutions that you can pick and choose from or combine altogether. They have product lifecycle costing, an interface for product authoring tools, product requirements acquisition and management, product marketability reports, and even chemical compliance and other dangerous goods management.
Because SAP’s solutions are broken up into many modules (even their integration system requires a unique platform), the cost of using it can add up quite quickly. The pricing notes at the base of this summary are specifically for the Teamcenter PIM solution but additional purchases are required for the costing, engineering, development, and compliance packages.
SAP Integration Suite makes integrating on-premise and cloud-based applications into your workflow possible at an additional cost. You’ll also have the ability to design, publish, and manage APIs.
SAP PIM costs from $1700 for a server license plus $1500/author or $730/viewer.
2. Oracle Agile - Best for those already in the Oracle software ecosystem
Oracle Agile is a global, integrated platform that acts as a single repository of information that allows for innovation management, product development, product quality management, product master data management (MDM), and configurator modelling.
Oracle Agile enables users to gain a full understanding of the process flow because of how easy it is to document a product’s history and to pull it right up. You can trust that changes made by collaborators will be updated in real time and that you’re always seeing the newest information so you can accomplish tasks in a timely manner.
Oracle Agile is undoubtedly robust which means that there is a learning curve and may come across as meant for more advanced users. The screens are alike for many of the business processes and may appear to be visually outdated.
Oracle Agile does not offer a free trial and customized pricing is available upon request.
3. Siemens Teamcenter - Best for companies with advanced needs
Teamcenter is Siemens PLM software—an adaptable product lifecycle management system that’s deployable on-premise or by cloud SaaS that has features for BOM management, change management, document management, and NX integration among others. It promises to connect people and processes across domains and departments and throughout your supply chain.
Siemens Teamcenter has a simple interface that makes the software easy to understand and use. CAD history and revisions are accessible and easy to import and export, toolbars are customizable, and viewing 3D models without the need for integrations makes Teamcenter one of the best in the market.
Because Siemens Teamcenter caters to more comprehensive and advanced needs, opening large data files, 3D models, tends to cause delay and lag. Some may find navigation a bit of a challenge due to the sheer number of features within the software.
Siemens Teamcenter offers a 30-day free trial and customized pricing is available upon request.
4. Bamboo Rose - Best for retail companies
Bamboo Rose is a multi-enterprise and supply chain platform that strives to reduce cycle time and sampling costs through a variety of productivity and efficiency features. The tool can help by giving users one version of truth, real time design and product development processing features, standardised design elements and collaborative 3D designing, as well as a strong private label product portfolio.
Bamboo Rose enables users to work with various suppliers in one platform, streamlining multiple processes and getting rid of siloed information. The platform makes it easy to see all the relevant data across different aspects of the development and production cycle.
Bamboo Rose is packed with features which means that there could be a learning curve in terms of navigation and feature set mastery.
Bamboo Rose provides pricing details upon request.
5. Aras PLM - Best for North American teams
Aras Innovator is trusted by companies such as GE, Honda, Motorola, and XEROX and is used in almost 150 countries. It comes with the following features: new product development and introduction, multi-CAD data management and visualization, project management, and configuration and change management.
Aras Innovator makes it easy to connect with other software through its many integrations, allowing users to put things in and pull things out of the software without much trouble.
Unfortunately for more simple users, Aras Innovator can come off as a rather sophisticated or more advanced piece of software. There are a lot of opportunities to customize but it’s not easy doing so, making it seem like Aras Innovator enjoys making users rack up on their number of clicks within the software.
Aras Innovator offers pricing details upon request.
6. Upchain - Best for SMBs
Upchain is a cloud PLM software solution for modern manufacturing that allows users to securely collaborate on a global scale. Upchain enables users to work together in real time to keep projects going without delays, allowing you to stay within budget. Upchain comes with CAD and Microsoft Office plugins, BOM management, API integrations, ECR creation and management and so much more.
Upchain provides users with a single source of truth where documentation is easily accessible and their cloud technology makes it so that no matter where team members and collaborators are, all the information is available to everyone. Their transparent and modest pricing makes tham a great PIM starting point for small and medium businesses.
As Upchain continues to improve its services, many features customers are looking for are still in the works. One thing they’ve managed to overlook is the fact that their tutorials have now become outdated. It doesn’t help that some terms may cause confusion in entry-level users.
Upchain costs from $30/user, offers 3 pricing plans, and a free demo.
7. Andromeda PLM by NGC - Best for manufacturing giants
Andromeda PLM by NGC is a cloud-based product lifecycle management system made for the fashion and footwear industries. It comes with features for planning, merchandising, design, costing, sampling, quality, bill of materials creation, and sourcing. It’s also equipped with workflow calendars and customisable dashboards.
With Andromeda PLM by NGC, companies can create a database of all the information necessary for the manufacturing processes all the way through launch and marketing. Transactions are a breeze with no more missing information from suppliers, vendors, and collaborators. Technical specifications are standardised and quickly understood by manufacturers.
Andromeda PLM comes across as slightly outdated when it comes to their graphical user interface. Cutting edge brands may not feel inspired by the lackluster UI or stale. Text-heavy layout. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this can all be overlooked.
Andromeda PLM by NGC offers a free demo and customized pricing is available upon request.
8. Centric Retail PLM - Best for multicategory retail companies
Centric Retail PLM comes with features that let users speed-up time to market, increase product introduction success, boost product innovation, launch more SKUs, get closer to customers, lower COGS & improve product margins, streamline private/white label and supplier co-created development, and maximise product assortment value.
Centric Retail PLM not only serves as a central process and storage solution, it is also a global platform that allows companies to respond to their customers and communicate with team members no matter where they are.
Centric Retail PLM is designed for companies with thousands of suppliers, vendors, retailers, and products in mind and so the many features in the software, a number of them customisable, may pose a challenge to new users.
Centric Retail PLM offers a free demo and customized pricing is available upon request.
9. Propel - Best for those in the Salesforce ecosystem
Propel is a cloud-native product solution that allows its users to gather and optimize new product introduction, collaborate on a company-wide scale, design quality data databases, leverage productivity tools. Propel even offers accessibility through your phone using their smart mobile app.
Propel is a user-friendly platform that helps you stay organised with workflow customization features that enable you to provide customers with better service, monitor product details and operations, and even compare revisions details.
Because Propel is built on Salesforce, having no previous experience with Salesforce may result in an additional learning curve.
Propel offers a free demo and customized pricing is available upon request. Note that Propel offers packages with a minimum of 10 users.
10. ProductBoard - Best for tech companies
Productboard is an agile product management tool best suited for digital industries that lets users scrap spreadsheets, consolidate user feedback, define product strategy, earn buy-in for plans, and preserve existing workflows. Productboard is an IoT company trusted by customers like Zoom, Zendesk, and Avast.
Productboard has a pleasant visual interface that maps insights out into product ideas and features that make it easy to create timely and relevant products using organised and detailed information from different sources across the production process.
Because Productboard caters to clients in tech, many features can take more time to learn. More training videos and tutorials would be helpful to users who are just getting started with such robust software.
Productboard costs from $20 and offers a 15-day free trial.
Other PLM Tools
Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for product lifecycle management, check these out.
- Opentext - Best for information management
- 4G:PLM - Best for growing small to medium-sized businesses
- Arena PLM - Best for high tech electronics manufacturers
- PTC Windchill - Best for geographically distributed teams
- ENOVIA - Best for industrial manufacturing
- Sterling PLM - Best for the automotive industry
- Hexagon - Best for structural engineering
- PDXpert - Best for the process control industry
- Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle PLM - Best for engineering and construction
- Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE - Best for aerospace & defense industries
PLM Systems FAQ
Have some questions about the processes and tools used across a product lifespan? Check out this handy FAQ.
What is PLM software?
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software is a digital tool that helps to manage the resources required to design, launch, test, market, and administrate a product or service. PLM software will most likely offer functionality to oversee data, processes, business systems, and people/time resources.
What is Database Lifecycle Management?
Database lifecycle management is similar to product lifecycle management in that it is a process by which to navigate the creation, development, marketing, and launch of a commodity or goods. Database lifecycle management, however, is a policy-driven approach to managing data assets, databases, and database-related items in particular.
What Do You Think About the Above Lifecycle Management Software?
Have you tried out any of the software product life cycle tools listed above? What product lifecycle management marketing tools would you add to this list? Let us know in the comment section.
Looking for more tools such as PIM Software? Here's our list of the 10 Best PIM Software.
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