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Comparing PLM Systems: The Key Differentiators of Superior Solutions


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Comparing PLM Systems: The Key Differentiators of Superior Solutions

5 Oct 2022

John McCurdy
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If your business manufactures consumer goods, you’re likely familiar with product lifecycle management (PLM) systems to some extent. Perhaps you’ve heard that they can accelerate the time to market of your newest items, or maybe you’ve got a more in-depth understanding of the benefits they offer and how they help companies overcome the challenges of today’s markets.

But when it comes to evaluating the many different PLM solutions available and determining which will best fit your organization, you’re likely to face a number of questions. There are so many options to choose from, all promising to deliver results, but the reality is that not all of these platforms were created equal—there are some critical elements that separate the best from the rest of the pack.

So, what are these key differentiators of the best PLM systems, and what advantages do they offer those businesses that implement them? Read on for a breakdown of the three characteristics to look for and how the PLM solutions that offer them facilitate streamlined new product development.

1. Optimized and Modernized User Experience and Interface

While the vendors of PLM software often plug the tools their system can offer and the desired outcomes that it can potentially unlock, they may gloss over a crucially important topic—what it’s like to actually use the system from the perspective of a manufacturing business employee. For that reason, getting a firmer grasp on the user experience and user interface (UX and UI)—in other words, what it will be like to interact with the platform in practice—should be a top priority during your search.

It’s best if the solution can offer integrated electronic document management (EDM) to maintain and update all of the “paperwork” associated with your products in a digital fashion. Ideally, you’ll be able to tie certain files to certain lines, which will make finding the information you need easier and also aid in confirming full regulatory compliance.

Since new product development often involves individuals from outside your organization, you should also keep an eye out for features that allow external partners to access the system and collaborate with internal stakeholders. You’ll also want to be able to measure how well your suppliers are meeting expectations, so look for key performance indicator (KPI) tracking to boost visibility and ensure goals are met.

Aptean’s PLM solutions offer truly optimized UX and UI, with point-and-click, drag-and-drop and search functionalities that make completing tasks on the platform intuitive and simple. Our software is web-based and can be accessed from virtually anywhere with an internet connection, including on mobile platforms. Your external partners can even collaborate with your internal teams leveraging an integrated supplier portal.

2. Features that Boost Efficiency and Collaboration

Time is of the essence when you’re trying to get a new product out to capitalize on a hot consumer trend or shift in preferences, so you want a PLM system that can increase your efficiency and foster smooth collaboration. The first and most important component to look for in this regard is the ability of the platform to act as a “single source of truth” for all departments and teams engaged in new product development.

Project and task management features help to keep the process moving along and let you create observable milestones to reach along the way to launch. You’ll also want tools that allow you to monitor team workloads and address bottlenecks and delays, as the proper allocation of your people and the prompt rectification of issues are necessary for meeting tight timeframes and getting your new goods on shelves as soon as possible.

Gantt charts are a great way to visualize the various tasks and assigned parties as they make progress toward completing their responsibilities. Retention of your product details and associated files as they existed in each stage of the iterative process can also be invaluable, as it is sometimes necessary to revert to a previous version and make changes.

Our PLM solutions stand out for the robust workflow engine we developed to assign tasks to specific users and other involved stakeholders, which helps to make sure that product specifications are followed and pertinent data is highly visible. We’ve also integrated business intelligence (BI) features into our PLM platforms that facilitate managing your product repository with classification and search tools.

3. Backed by a Provider that Knows Your Industry

When you’re working with key business partners—like your software solutions provider—it helps immensely if they “speak your language.” You want a vendor that truly understands your industry and your company’s unique needs, as well as the goods you create and the processes involved in manufacturing them.

Given that creating a product brief is almost always the first step in developing a new item and bringing it to market, your PLM system should allow these important documents to function as more than just a formula and bill of materials. The solution should allow you to create a comprehensive blueprint and automatically deploy alerts when the finished goods deviate from original specifications.

Also, knowing that labeling is a critical matter with regulatory implications, it’s best if your PLM platform can automatically perform the necessary calculations and create different versions based on the regions in which you market your products. Meanwhile, quality management is much easier when checks are performed and recorded automatically, so consider that another feature to look out for.

At Aptean, we’re dedicated to serving our target markets with industry-specific solutions that have the tools for the unique challenges our clients encounter. For example, Aptean PLM Lascom Edition—which is designed for food, beverage, cosmetic and personal care manufacturers—has built-in USDA, CIQUAL and INCI databases to automatically generate ingredient, nutritional and allergen information as necessary.

Meanwhile, our solution for apparel and fashion companies, Aptean Apparel PLM Exenta Edition, includes a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator, allowing our clients’ designers to contribute to new product development without ever leaving their design software. Meanwhile, the software also streamlines approvals, change management, line selection and supply chain collaboration so that your products are on the racks and in consumers’ closets faster.

More Reasons to Choose Aptean for Your PLM System

With decades of collective experience in our target industries and superior technological know-how, we build the software solutions that keep your business primed for success going forward and ready for the future. We know that highly specialized processes require carefully crafted tools built for the purpose at hand, and we leverage our in-depth knowledge to create those features that serve customers’ needs.

Our PLM systems truly foster innovation and communication, which helps keep your brand relevant by facilitating new product development so that you can seize opportunities as they emerge. We also strive to act as a partner for each and every one of our clients, helping to form a roadmap for the deployment process and providing advice on best practices as the platform is being implemented at your facilities.

If you’re ready to learn more about Aptean’s PLM systems and the key differentiators that set them apart in a crowded solutions market, contact us today. You can also request a personalized demo at your convenience.

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