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Demystifying PLM in General, Understanding SAP PLM components and View on PLM 7.0

Demystifying PLM in General:

PLM is a 3 letter acronym for ‘Product Lifecycle Management’. This acronym definition has evolved over a period of time to encompass

  • Portfolio and Project Management
  • Requirements Management
  • Product Engineering addressing
  1. Detailed Engineering to define Product Structure and Meta data management … PDM (Product Data Management) essentially Variant Configuration with rules engine and Classification.
  2. Detailed Engineering to create new product Design using 3D CAD/CAE tools (Computer Aided Design, Computer Aided Engineering) software’s
  3. Prototyping of newly Engineered product within predetermined ‘Target Product Cost’.
  4. Strategic Sourcing – Identifying Component Vendors and Engineering Suppliers to Manufacture.
  • Process Engineering addressing
  1. Detailed Engineering to define Routing Sequence Structure of Product Assemblies, Operation Times, Precedence.
  2. Detailed Engineering to define Production Line Design Structure, Capacity Balancing along with Part Bin sizes to consume on shop floor.
  3. Trial Production, Ramp up and Handover to Manufacturing.
  4. Continuous Product Improvements via Quality Engineering (Inspection Plans, SPC, FMEA, APQP), Product Analytics from downstream consumption (Shop floor rejects, Quality Notifications etc).
PLM target audience in an organization are ‘Engineering Department’ where New products (pipeline) Portfolio is envisioned and realized


  • Portfolio Managers (with MBA & Marketing background)
  • Project Managers (most new products are managed as projects) 
  • Design Engineers 
  • Process and Production Planners 
  • Quality Engineers
  • Technical Publishing


Key Solutions in SAP PLM as part of Business Suite:

(Topics marked Bold and Italic are SAP Components to sell)

  • For Portfolio and Project Management:  PD, RPM, Collaborative Projects (cProjects), Project Systems (PS)
  • Requirements Management, Product and Process Engineering:  Reuses core SAP ERP functionalities addressing above target users to do
  1. Document Management System (SAP DMS)
  2. CAD Desktop sitting on top of SAP DMS with ‘CAD Connectors’ to talk to 3D CAD Applications.
  3. iPPE (Integrated Product & Process Engineering) ….Here Product Structure can be created and reused without the need for Material master creation.
  4. Engineering Change Management (ECM), Variant Configuration, Material Master and Material BOM
  5. Neutral Viewer to do Product DMU (Digital Mockup) and percolation of Engineering content to non engineering users within organization (like Manufacturing, Purchasing, After Sales Service).
  6. Collaborative Folders (cFolders) for engaging Suppliers.
  7. Search Capabilities based on Classification and Cross Object Search
  8. Universal Worklist and Business Workflows
  9. Business Intelligence (SAP BW) trends based on downstream consumption as a ‘Reverse Feed’ to do product improvements and decisions
  10. Product Design and Cost Estimation (PDCE)
  11. Process Engineering via iPPE (the 2nd ‘P’ addressing) Routing, Line Design and Balancing.
  12. Work Instructions
  13. Scheduling and Sequencing of Mix Model Production Lines
  14. Quality Engineering via Inspection Plans, APQP.


Value Added View on PLM 7.0:


This is 1st release of 3 release roadmap for PLM (Statement of Direction for PLM)

  • Focus on ‘Simplicity’ and Usability· 
  • Web based solution using Netweaver Business Client, ABAP Webdynpro.
  • Move away from transactions to Web based Navigation. Key Usability improvements include
  1. Entry Page for PLM called Control Centre.
  2. Fast Search with easy access based on Enterprise Search and TREX Indexing.
  3. Hot links to  Create | Change | Display of Material, Material BOM, ECM, Access Control objects.
  4. Object Navigator to study and understand Object Links and relations. Navigation include Multi Level Material BOM structure explosion.
  5. New Authorization concept to enable Engineers and Suppliers to Collaboratively work securely in –  Cross Project, Cross Site.
  6. Product Centric View (PCV) : Product Intelligence via Side Panel displaying Product Analytics. Side panel displays content based on on-demand query for selected object. The concept of PCV Side Panel is similar to context specific Advertisements displayed in Google Search results.PCV acts as a reverse feed to Engineer to improve product design issues.
  7. Neutral viewer – SAP Product Visualization for display neutral files like .pdf, Right Hemisphere file.
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  • Hi Kiran.
    What really annoys me, is that you relate your blogs to almost all categories, no matter if it fits or not. This doesn’t help.
    Cheers, Karsten
    • Hi Karsten
      Thank you for your comments…Just curious which category you find is a misfit?

      From Technology perspective:
      – The new solution is built on ABAP Webdynpro
      – It needs Enterprise Portal as a pre-requisite (NWBC)
      – PLM 7.0 integrates BI in Side Panel to display trends in graphical way
      – You could check below link for screen shots
      PLM 7.0

      From Industries Perspective:
      – Discrete is the prime focus for PLM 7.0 release.
      – RPM, cProjects address ‘Professional Services’ as well


      • Hi
        what I’m missing here is maitenance/service  point of view (PM,CS…). In most  cases design and production phase  is qute short comparing to whole lifecycle length.  


  • Hi,

    You would have defined PLM clearly. You have given PLM components by considering SAP (ofcourse you haven’t included all components of SAP for PLM). In reality PLM systems will support product information from Concept to the end of the life cycle by integrating people, process, business and information.
    This can be achieved by considering the following components
    Customer Integration (Customer Relationship Management-CRM) for Product Innovation.
    Concurrent Engineering for for Product and Process innovation.
    Supplier Integration (Supplier Relationship Management-SRM) for achieving operation efficiency.

    CRM and SRM are by itself concepts. So we have to integrate these components for PLM. Concurrent Engineering is the core of the PLM systems.

    Some one can through their comments on the same.

    Suresh. J