How to Effectively Manage Product Lifecycle within Your ERP
November 12, 2020
Product lifecycle management within the consumer goods industry is how you organize and track a product's entire lifecycle, from ideation and inception to design to manufacturing to shipping and everything in between.
Think about each of those stages independently. There is paperwork and schematics, labor and occasionally third-party logistics providers (3PLs), shipping and overseas production, scheduling, and inventory. They're gears working independently and still interconnected; each stage depends on the other to ensure that the product makes it into a customer's hands.
You're going to end up wasting time, resources and money without the right technology in place. It would be best to have an effective solution to support open and quick communication and track the product as it moves from stage to stage.
Ensure you have the right technology to manage product lifecycle
An industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution easily stores all the data you need to effectively manage product lifecycles. A software solution with integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) tools enables increased productivity, greater visibility and better organization in managing your various products. These tools ensure the data across your organization is in a single, digital and accessible location available in near real-time for anyone who needs to see it.
When the factory is ready to produce samples, for example, you don't want to search through emails or shared drives or folders for the specs you need to provide. You want to be able to answer any questions that management is asking at a moment's notice when you're being asked about the status of new products in development for the spring launch.
Robust and integrated PLM capabilities enable you to define and manage the unique steps you and your team need to create an effective process. Each step should be broken down into a task or series of tasks, which are assigned completion dates. These tasks and timelines are tracked within the system. The system automatically sends out alerts whenever a task has a setback or is completed, so anyone involved in the process knows the next steps. Your business becomes more efficient and more productive by streamlining the product creation process.
You're able to quickly and easily crossover from tracking your product's development to monitoring your product's sales with a PLM integrated into an ERP. Your ERP becomes a repository—all the documents, communications, specs, costs and purchase orders attached to a product are stored and saved in one place. They're easy to access and easy to reference, and you no longer have to move product specs and designs from system to system manually.
Beyond maintaining all that data, an ERP with integrated PLM tools can efficiently facilitate all those communications and processes. If someone is supposed to approve a design, for example, a robust solution enables users to send alerts and emails to stay on the right timeline and define that timeline within the system.
If you don't have a PLM solution integrated into your ERP, there's no history of that product. There isn't near real-time visibility into where the product is in its lifecycle, who is completing which task and when, if that progress has been communicated, if there's been a problem or set back, if that problem or setback has been rectified, and if all people relevant to the project are in communication. An ERP with integrated PLM is worth it because the Efficiency saves you time and dollars.
How an industry-specific ERP effectively manages product lifecycles
You want to use a solution that's made to overcome the challenges of your industry as well as fit the unique processes and productions you face, particularly as it relates to managing product lifecycles. There's a lot that goes on between ideation to production to distribution. It would help if you used an ERP that can support you every step of the way.
The Aptean Distribution ERP takes the complex process of creating a product and gives you the tools to coordinate multiple teams' work to ensure that each task is done on time and — most importantly — well. Aptean's solution is highly customizable and made to truly accommodate your business needs and support workflow processes from concept to finished product.
If you'd like to talk more about how an ERP can help you effectively manage your products' lifecycles, reach out. We'd love to talk.