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What is an integrated PLM system? And how can PLM be utilized maximize its investment cost, technology ROI, and corporate bottom line?
PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) represents the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from ideation, product innovation, product development, manufacturing, and product commercialization. PLM software integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for individual companies and their extended enterprise.
Product lifecycle management is one of the three cornerstones of a corporations information technology structure. All companies need to manage communications and information with their customers (CRM-Customer Relationship Management), their suppliers (SCM-Supply Chain Management), and their resources within the company enterprise (ERP-Enterprise Resource Planning). Food companies must also develop, describe, manage and communicate information about their products.
The following diagram illustrates integrated business information dependencies within a food and beverage company managed by PLM. PLM functions as an electronic data and document management hub for information that is typically not managed by the enterprise ERP system (Examples include SAP, Oracle, INFOR, etc.). The PLM software program database usually sits on a dedicated SQL server, and is traditionally managed within the RD Department although it can be managed within any department. The reason for housing the product within a combined RD/QA department is because these departments are held responsible for new product ideation, innovation, development, and product commercialization Stage Gate (or similar) workflow processes. PLM benefits the QA department because it facilitates electronic document and revision control of ingredient and product specifications. The diagram also shows how PLM can centrally manage laboratory analysis information, nutritional labeling information (using Genesis RD or similar programs), electronic sensory and consumer information, manufacturing statistical process control information, etc. It could also be use in the QSR industry by Purchasing, Procurement, or Supply Chain Management departments to electronically manage contracts, product data sheets, product costing (which might reside locally if a company does not have an ERP system), and other business information.

Figure 1. Integrated business information dependencies within a food and beverage company managed by PLM.
Source: Food Technical Consulting
Unfortunately, many food and beverage IT managers understand the functionality and value of Product Lifecycle Management because the name may not be an appropriate descriptor. If you are looking for a software application with a fast implementation (1-3+ months), and quick ROI, then you should consider as one of your bedrock IT systems,

Dr. Darrel Suderman is President/CEO of Food Technical Consulting and Business IQ LLC. He has 15 years experience in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industries. For 10 years, he has led major MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Product LifeCycle Management (PLM) consulting projects at numerous #1 branded companies that includes: Jennie-O Turkey Store, Johnsonville Sausage, Ernst Julio Gallo Winery, JBS Pilgrims, Organic Valley, and Gold’n Plump Poultry. Business IQ LLC was started in 2011 as a Business Intelligence Analytics consulting services provider using SAP Business Object Platform. He has published numerous IT white papers and spoken at major software company annual sales meetings.
For more information on 1-day cutting edge corporate innovation seminars, please contact me at or follow the Food Innovation Institute website ( for information on two Food Innovation 3-day workshops in Denver, Colorado.

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