May 21, 2024

Product Lifecycle Management: Understanding the Stages of PLM

Introduction to PLM

Product Lifecycle Management(PLM) refers to the process of managing a product’s development and marketing from its initial design phase until it is retired and disposed of. PLM helps organizations manage information related to their products and track changes throughout the various stages of a product’s lifecycle. By implementing a PLM system, companies can streamline processes, facilitate collaboration between teams, minimize redundant work, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Product Definition and Concept Development

the first stage of PLM is product definition and concept development. During this stage, companies identify market opportunities or needs and generate ideas for new products. Market research is conducted to understand customer requirements and potential demand. Technology assessments are done to evaluate the feasibility of different design concepts. Cross-functional teams work together to define product specifications, select target markets, and establish a business case. Concept development results in the creation of initial technical drawings, CAD models, bills of materials, and other documentation. This stage establishes the foundation for all future activities.

Product Design

Once a product concept is selected, the design stage begins. Engineers take the product definition and translate it into detailed designs and plans. CAD systems are utilized to refine technical drawings, part designs, assembly designs, and documentation. Engineers work collaboratively to resolve design issues, validate functionality and performance requirements, and ensure compliance with safety and quality standards. Design reviews are held to receive feedback from other teams. Prototypes and design verification testing may be conducted. The goal is to produce validated, finalized design documentation that can be handed off to manufacturing.

Product Planning

during product planning, teams focus on preparing for volume production and market launch. This includes finalizing the bill of materials, developing a work breakdown structure, estimating costs, setting up suppliers, developing production process plans, tooling requirements, and quality control procedures. Manufacturing engineers work closely with designers to ensure producibility. Production schedules and forecasts are established. Marketing and sales develop promotional plans, pricing strategies, distribution channels, and launch timelines. Planning covers all elements needed for a smooth transition to production and launch.

Product Production

The production stage involves manufacturing the product according to the designs, plans, and procedures developed previously. Production equipment and tooling are set up and validated. Manufacturing process controls and quality checks are implemented. Supply chains are activated to deliver components. Production begins inlots to proof the processbefore scaling up to full volume. Capacity, yields, costs, and quality metrics are closely monitored. Any necessary refinements are made to finalize the production system. Manufactured goods are stored or shipped as needed. Change management systems ensure that design and process updates can be incorporated smoothly.

Product Delivery

During product delivery, the focus shifts to distributing the product to customers and supporting post-sales needs. Inventory is shipped from warehouses through various channels such as retail outlets or direct-to-customer. Training may be provided to sales teams and distributors. Warranties are issued. Feedback systems capture customer satisfaction levels and issues. Field service teams handle repairs, returns, refurbishment, and end-of-lease recovery as needed. Usage and consumption data are analyzed to understand actual product usage compared to forecasts. Customer support responses are tracked. This feedback assists in future product improvements.

Product Sustainment

Over the product life cycle, sustainment activities maintain product performance and value in the field. Enhancements or revisions may be designed and introduced through new production runs or retrofits. Parts obsolescence is managed by ensuring long-term availability or introducing replacements. Repair centers and parts inventory support extended service periods. Technical documentation, training programs, and support infrastructure are updated for the installed base. End-of-life strategies are developed based on usage monitoring, feedback, and sustainability goals. Regulatory compliance is maintained throughout sustained product lifecycles, which may span decades.

Product Retirement

All products eventually reach the end of their useful lives and enter retirement. PLM systems help coordinate an organized product retirement process. Remaining inventory is cleared through discounted sales. Spare parts continue to be stocked for repairs during the phase-out period. Proper waste handling and recycling processes safeguard the environment and comply with regulations for retired components.Product history records are archived for future reference. Retirement formally closes out the final stage for a product in the PLM system. Lessons learned are captured to continuously improve future product lifecycles.

Benefits of Implementing PLM Systems

PLM systems provide numerous advantages for organizations across all stages of product development and management. Centralized product data storage eliminates data silos and enables easy collaboration across teams. With controlled, auditable changes and revisions tracking, development stays on schedule without duplication of work. Compliance with industry and internal standards is simplified through embedded workflows and approvals. Real-time visibility into product status helps management make data-driven decisions. Integrated 3D CAD modeling accelerates design iterations and improves accuracy of documentation. Supplier portals facilitate upstream involvement. Analytics derived from lifecycle data give insights for continuous improvement. An integrated PLM environment supports successful execution across the entire product value chain.


In Summary, product lifecycle management (PLM) is a holistic approach to managing the entire lifecycle of a product, from initial concept to end-of-life disposal. PLM software provides businesses with a comprehensive platform for organizing, tracking, and analyzing product-related data and processes. By centralizing information and streamlining workflows, PLM systems enable organizations to improve collaboration, increase efficiency, and reduce time-to-market. With features such as document management, change control, and supplier collaboration, PLM software helps companies bring high-quality products to market faster and more cost-effectively, ultimately driving business growth and competitiveness.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it