SAP PLM: Product Lifecycle Management

SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM) is an ERP application that gives us all-encompassing support for all product development-related procedures – from the very first concept, all the way to production to service for the product. In this article, We will cover a quick outline of the features of the SAP PLM module overview.

SAP PLM software up the SAP Business Suite which provides businesses with the capability to execute their crucial business functions using modular software built to work with other SAP as well as non-SAP applications. Departments and organizations across every sector can use SAP Business Suite software to tackle specific business challenges in their own timeframes and without the expense of costly upgrade costs.

What is SAP PLM

The SAP Product Life cycle Management (PLM) program enables businesses to manage all stages of a product’s lifecycle, from inception through finalization. It enables businesses to control the information about their goods, collaborates with internal and external parties, and automate business procedures related to product development, engineering, and manufacturing.

SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a comprehensive suite of applications designed to manage product-related data, processes, and collaboration throughout the entire product lifecycle. It includes product definition, engineering management, visualization and simulation, process orchestration, and the shift to cloud-based solutions. SAP PLM enables faster product development cycles, improved collaboration, and faster response to market demands. It facilitates accurate and up-to-date product structures, manages bills of materials, and integrates with CAD tools. It also aids in visualizing and simulation, facilitating collaboration and decision-making. The shift towards cloud-based PLM offers scalability, flexibility, and accessibility, reducing infrastructure costs and promoting seamless collaboration. In summary, SAP PLM is a strategic investment for organizations aiming to optimize their product development processes, enhance collaboration, and stay competitive.

Introduction of SAP PLM

The development of products for discrete manufacturing is becoming difficult to execute due to the increasing complexity of products. Implementing appropriate IT solutions is crucial to boost efficiency, decrease time to cycle, and ensure the highest quality of the product.

In the last few years, the process of developing products has fundamentally changed in the field of discrete manufacturing. New challenges are emerging within the company’s business processes which require new methods and IT solutions. On the other hand, we are seeing an exponential increase in IT performance and the interconnection between the systems. This opens up new opportunities to increase the efficiency of processes and satisfy the needs of customers.

sap plm overview
Traditional Process

In particular, increasing product complexity is a constant obstacle when it comes to product development. The products we are selling are becoming more complicated as well as more sophisticated and offer greater variance. As a result, IT solutions must make sure that we are able to recognize and manage this complexity to meet the needs of our customers. This will require more differentiation and structure in the development of products.

Manufacturing principles, in addition to the properties of the product in terms of cost time, quality, and cost can have a major impact on the specific designs of the development processes. There are different principles used in manufacturing. The manufacturing principles are classified into four categories:

What is SAP PLM used for

  • Manage product data: As part of SAP PLM’s repository function, SAP PLM allows all product data – such as engineering drawings, CAD data specifications and test results – to be stored easily within one place for easy sharing and access by all involved. This can help foster collaboration amongst team members as well as make decisions faster and easier for everyone involved.
  • Track product changes: SAP PLM monitors changes made to product information and ensures everyone uses the most up-to-date version, which is especially valuable in highly regulated industries where adhering to product safety standards is of utmost importance.
  • Manage product lifecycle phases: SAP PLM allows organizations to easily manage the lifecycle of a product from its conception through design, production and service. The information gained during each stage is used to streamline manufacturing processes and enhance product quality.
  • Collaborate with suppliers: SAP PLM can be used to collaborate on behalf of suppliers throughout the lifecycle of a product, ensuring they always have access to up-to-date product data that satisfies requirements.
  • Manage costs: SAP PLM can be used to track the costs associated with products over their lifecycle, which provides valuable data that can help with pricing strategies and increasing profitability.

Overview of Product Development

Task Clarification

When we begin the process of development it is crucial to clarify the requirements is the primary goal and the basis for all subsequent activities. It is essential to fully know the requirements that could arise from the various phases of the development lifecycle. For instance, requirements for the assembly-suitable design are derived from a study of manufacturing and assembly procedures. The outcome of the clarification phase is the documentation of the requirements in the form of specifications for requirements. Based on this specification, we’ll look at the technical options for fulfilling the functions that are relevant to the product. Sketches, initial prototypes and models could aid in the development of the functional or technical specifications that result from the document.

Conceptual Design

The purpose of this phase is to establish the principles of the solution and divide the product into feasible components. To ensure that we don’t limit the solution too early, it is recommended to begin by creating an abstract non-solution-neutral representation of the function of the product. To accomplish this, break down the product function into sub-functions. This can be advantageous as multiple groups can operate at the same time in huge and complex projects. Each sub-function has its own distinct set of requirements are various solutions. With their combined use many solutions are developed for the entire task. Inexpensive variants are readily recognized. Reduce the remaining solutions to one (or perhaps a handful of variations) by looking at the requirements that were defined in the beginning. The remaining options can be further developed and described in the initial technical design. 

In this scenario, the principle of the solution chosen is initially complemented with a sketch of the principal purposes. Once you have a concept in place we are able to start the design process.

Embodiment Design

In the design phase for embodiment, the concept of the product is refined and more attention is paid to the functions, the position and the geometry of modules or assemblies. Also, attention will be given to the interplay between modules as well as how they integrate into the overall product completion. The phase of embodiment design is a process of analysis and modeling to show how the arrangement of the components will function.

Detail Design

The purpose of this stage is to create the concept design so that the product can be produced and put together. In this phase, a variety of tools that are computer-aided, like computer-aided design (CAD) systems to create the mechanical design are employed. If CAD models or the individual part drawings are available, prototypes are created and tested in order to spot potential mistakes at an early stage. For products that are series, A pilot series is usually examined to determine if all tools are suitable to produce serially.

SAP PLM Overview

SAP PLM system allows engineers and designers access to the essential information they require in real-time. The system simplifies the management of projects by connecting the CAD (computer-aided design) information with the bill of materials as well as other data sources for the enterprise including connection to the ERP system and can manage the product’s data throughout every stage of the development lifecycle.


SAP PLM is also able to prevent engineers and designers from operating in a disjointed from each other, allowing them to gain insight into the external sources of information, such as the feedback of analysts and customers on the latest products, data on the performance of products that are in use and insight into the limitations of downstream processes such as manufacturing.

SAP PLM system also helps teams that go beyond engineering and design. It is able to provide a single source of truth and transparency to suppliers and business stakeholders for the easy distribution of feedback at an early stage in the development of a product Life Cycle.

What are the features of SAP PLM?

  • Integration with other SAP Product
  • Single integration platform for all Development tool
  • Product Engineering control centre
  • Complex Business process & Workflow Management
  • Process Automation
  • Automated / Rule base Workflow management
  • Conditional workflow management
  • Process summary / Reporting
  • Product Costing

What are SAP PLM’s advantages?

With up-to-date and correct BOM information, SAP PLM gives us visibility into the processes, increasing efficiency and reducing rework. When we reduce the number of errors & we enhance efficiency, processes which leads to overall customer satisfaction.

  • Improvements in development, efficiency in engineering, and efficiency
  • Elimination of mistakes during the engineering release process 
  • Time to market reduced
  • Improved delivery of projects

Let look at the Product Development process in SAP PLM module

What are the stages of SAP PLM?

sap plm process flow
sap plm process flow

Project planning and idea management

The process of developing products within SAP PLM starts with idea management and planning of projects. In this stage, the concepts for the development of new products and variants of existing products or even modifications to present products are examined for viability. Different factors (competition and cost analysis) are used in the evaluation. If a decision is made to go ahead with a project the required planning (dates resources, dates) is carried out. A basic project structure is established that will be further elaborated throughout the subsequent phases. 

Requirements analysis

In requirements analysis, the requirements for the product to be developed are systematically and completely collected and documented.

Conceptual and precise design

When it comes to the conceptual as well as the detailed design phase, the product that is to be developed is created step-by-step. In the beginning, an idea or conceptual structure is designed and further refined to create an entire design framework. It is possible to build conceptual, functional and development structures independently, However, you could as well group them in the form of a common structure. The various components could provide, for instance, particular views of the common structure.


Virtual and physical prototypes are used for checking conformity to the requirements specified in the beginning. To be able to comprehend the results of the validation, it is important to describe the design of the prototypes, in the particular structures. Specific prototype additions or modifications may be documented. The results of tests (test reports, etc.) can be stored in documents, and then assigned directly for prototyping.

sap plm
Simultaneous Engineering Process with PLM

Production preparation

Once an appropriate level of maturity is achieved, the development results and designs are transferred to preparation for production. In this stage, the manufacturing procedures (such as the process of assembly) are designed with specific tools and (as far as it is feasible) can be simulated in 3D to be able to spot defects at an early stage prior to expensive equipment being bought. In the case of serial products, it is common to have a pilot series usually produced before serial production starts.

Maintenance and Service

As production gets underway the creation of the product is completed. At the time of market entry, products are placed in the hands of the consumer and the process of utilizing commences. Maintenance and service are key to this phase. Information that is gathered from this phase is important for the development of products. However, the related processes are not an integral part of the process of development and therefore aren’t currently being considered. 

This is also true for the disposal and recycling phases of the products when the lifecycle of the product is complete.

We hope this post has provided you with a better understanding of the product development process and an overview of the SAP PLM Module.


SAP PLM is a crucial tool for modern enterprises, covering the entire product lifecycle from concept to retirement. It streamlines processes, promoting collaboration across departments. The shift to cloud-based PLM solutions offers scalability, flexibility, and reduced infrastructure overhead. SAP PLM accelerates innovation by enabling faster product development cycles, improving collaboration and real-time insights. As businesses evolve, embracing PLM becomes essential for staying competitive. Understanding PLM empowers individuals to navigate the digital supply chain effectively.

Is SAP PLM part of s4 Hana?

While SAP PLM is a part of S/4HANA Enterprise Management, it is not a component of SAP S/4HANA. It is a tool that can be utilized with it to give a full overview of an organization’s engineering production, manufacturing and engineering processes, as in addition to financial and operational information.

Where is SAP PLM used?

Companies across a range of industries use SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to manage the whole lifecycle of their products, from conception to retirement. Automotive, manufacturing and consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and industrial machinery are the most common industries adopting SAP PLM.

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