Is Your PDM System Fit for Modern Enterprises?

Written by: Geoff Hedges

Read Time: 2 min

Is Your PDM System Fit for Modern Enterprises?

In our previous post, we explored three ways a basic Product Data Management (PDM) system often fails to support cross-functional needs according to research from Jim Brown, founder and President of independent research firm Tech-Clarity. In this post, we share the three ways he believes a basic PDM system is unsuitable for modern enterprises calling upon sophisticated, multi-stakeholder design processes.

Too Simplistic for Product Complexity

More manufacturers are designing and developing smart, connected products combining hardware, sensors, data storage microprocessors, software, and connectivity. In such cases, they need BOMs that go beyond parts-related data to include everything related to the electronic, mechanical, and software aspects of their products. After all, they need to effectively manage all the data related to their product designs – even the variants that they can now more easily and cheaply produce by tweaking software instead of hardware.

Unfortunately, basic PDM systems can’t efficiently control a large number of product variants, too many levels in the BOM, or too many parts. As Brown explains, “Basic PDM systems may work in less complex environments, but even smaller organizations may reach the limits of their system due to the complexity of their products.”

Unable to Support Multi-CAD Environments

As discussed in the last post, engineering data used to be relatively simple, comprising design files, parts lists and specifications. Since products have grown more complex, so have the associated files and data. Design now involves more sketches, models, or even groups of models to capture all the components and parts of products. Behind the scenes, this can include more than just drawings to also incorporate CAD data from multiple systems.

Although most manufacturers try to standardize on one CAD modeling tool, many are compelled to manage more than one type of CAD tool. That’s because engineers need to collaborate with clients, vendors and partners as they build smart, connected products. And each of these stakeholders may use a different CAD system.

“A modern PDM system should support a much richer view of products than just CAD files and basic metadata. For example, manufacturers with smart products need the ability to incorporate or reference electrical and software designs, potentially incorporating ECAD and ALM in association with MCAD,” says Brown.

Fails to Provide a Cloud Option

At a time when product design and manufacturing is growing more complex, a growing number of organizations are feeling hamstrung by their on-premises PDM systems. It’s challenging – and sometimes impossible – granting access to additional stakeholders outside the firewall, and ensuring that all PDM data is up to date in an on-premises PDM system. Yet this is critical to ensure effective collaboration between all participants.

Moreover, engineering can’t afford to be at the mercy of a busy IT group when it requires the latest PDM system updates and enhancements. Because many basic PDM systems are not available in the cloud, manufacturers are unable to effectively overcome these issues. “No company should select a PDM solution without considering the cloud or digital transformation. Without a cloud PDM option, organizations can’t realize the agility and scalability they need to thrive in today’s fast-paced world,” explains Brown.

Tech-Clarity’s previous research found a high correlation between better business performance and strong PDM capabilities. Unfortunately, it also finds many manufacturers have already stretched the limits of their basic PDM systems. If that describes your situation, download this Buyer’s Guide written by industry experts Tech-Clarity to understand what to look for in a replacement PDM solution.
Tags: Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Digital Transformation

About the Author

Geoff Hedges

Geoff Hedges is the founder and major contributor to, a CAD focused blog that’s reached over 1 million visitors since launch.

In his current role as Program Marketing Director for the PLM and ALM businesses, he is responsible for demand marketing, including developing and executing demand generation campaigns, web site experience and product launch.

Geoff has more than 30 years of experience working in the areas of CAD, PLM, and PDM software; he holds an Honors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany.