What is Product Data Management (PDM)?

Product data management is the use of software to help organizations connect and communicate product information across globally distributed teams where multiple product development tools may be used. PDM enables controlled global collaboration across concurrent design environments from requirements to system models to design (mechanical, electrical, and software), simulation, validation, and verification. It guarantees that every model, drawing or document is secured and easily found in a central repository. Part and document searches leverage the entire history and associated relationships of each piece of content. With PDM, you ensure that every version and revision is tracked, required approvals have happened, and manual tasks have been automated.

Why is PDM important?

PDM is important because engineers in organizations without a robust PDM system spend 25% more time on nonproductive data management tasks.

Designing a product means having to manage many distinct types of data. With PDM, you gain efficiencies in organizing, tracking, and re-using all design data centrally with a single source of truth. Spend less time searching for CAD files, recreating data, updating systems, and answering requests from non-CAD users. Hit your cost and schedule targets by eliminating non-value tasks associated with managing and sharing secure product data.

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Benefits of PDM

Adopt a smarter way of working and begin increasing efficiency, improving collaboration, and laying the foundation for your digital transformation journey.


Drive Engineering Efficiencies

Manage and link all product related data, ensuring only correct versions of documents are distributed to responsible personnel at the right time.

Increase Global Collaboration

Enable internal and external teams to provide product development updates, submit ideas, and receive feedback in real time.

Improve Data Quality

Manage all CAD tools (Creo, SolidWorks, Inventor, NX, Catia, and more) in one environment, ensuring that there is no missing or misinterpreted information.


Greater Document Control

Provide a system for managing employee read & sign training, electronic signatures, controlled printing, configurable watermarks and more.

Better IP Protection

Control access to internal and external users’ who’ve been authorized to view and edit data. Establish further control by using security labels (ex. ITAR clearance) to accommodate temporary agreements for specific participants.

Decrease Time Searching for Data

Assign classification and attribute values as parts and documents are developed to create standardized system-generated names, making it easier to read, translate, and search for data.

PTC’s Product Data Management E-Book

Start improving Product Data Management

Is your design team struggling with collaboration? Are tight market schedules burdened by redundant work and ineffective communication? Take a look at our E-Book, “Product Data Management: The Foundation of the Digital Thread and Digital Twin.”

Delve into how embracing Product Data Management (PDM) eradicates duplications and streamlines end-to-end processes by fostering a harmonized and secure environment.

Key product data management capabilities

Maintain legacy information and manage new product data, providing full digital traceability. Ensure everyone is using the right version for development, analysis, manufacturing, and procurement.

  • Control CAD data: Easy HTML UI and CAD tool integrations including Creo, Creo Elements/Direct Modeling/Drafting, CATIA V5, NX, SolidWorks, Inventor, AutoCAD

  • Secure collaboration: Fast and secure role-based access to product data by disbursed teams and value chain partners

  • Role-based apps: Self-service, out-of-the-box role and task-based apps that provide contextualized information for non-CAD users

  • Release and change process: Simple workflow capabilities to route documents for approval and/or review

  • ECAD data management: Synchronize ECAD libraries with PLM Parts and MCAD models (Zuken, Cadence, Altium and more). Provide easy and accurate enterprise access to complex electronic design data.

  • Generate viewables: Publishing of CAD to lightweight viewables for review and consumption outside of engineering

  • Multi-CAD editing: Edit product data within major CAD systems using check-in check-out, downloads, family tables, virtual components, and save-as

  • Lifecycle management: Control CAD data status from WIP (work-in-progress) to release

  • Microsoft Office integration: Initiate promotion, version comparison, and link to detailed information in GUI and web browsers

  • Create new documents: Drag and drop using Windows File Explorer or browse the PDM system as a folder structure

  • Advanced search: Search, save, share, and visualize by keyword, attributes, conditions, and classifications relationships

  • Post publishing: Trigger auto publishing, job scheduling, and manual publishing; publish XML doc maps from configuration specs to various formats

  • Document classification: Organize documents from classification structures and hierarchy for searching and re-use

How is PDM software used

Learn how your peers are managing their product data using PTC’s robust product data management software.

ZF Unifies its Product Development Environment

Learn how software, mechanical, and electrical components come together in a useful flow for engineers.

Get the Full Story

Improved Engineering Efficiency

Learn how Volvo CE is streamlining their design processes and shifting the focus to whole product optimization through component reuse, transforming R&D into a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team.

Read the Case Study

Seagate’s Story of Productivity, Quality, and Scale

Moving from paper based to a digital, authoritative source of truth has enabled Seagate to engineer for choice.

Watch the Webcast

Modernizing Product Development Processes

Moving from a drawing-centric product development approach to a parts-centric one made it easier for stakeholders to quickly find the information they need.

Read the Case Study

Explore PTC’s Windchill enterprise PDM PLM solution

Windchill is PTC’s PDM solution for enterprise PLM. Follow your product from the concept stage through its entire lifecycle and full release with confidence. Windchill removes the burden of data administration and lets product designers get back to what they do best: design.

Product Data Management FAQs

  • What is the difference between product data management (PDM) and product lifecycle management (PLM)?

    Product data management (PDM) helps global teams manage design data that originates in the product development process. These teams can connect and share product information, even if multiple product development tools are being used. They can also collaborate across concurrent design environments from requirements to system models, to design. On the other hand, product lifecycle management (PLM) enables streamlining product development and manufacturing processes throughout the product lifecycle. PLM helps global and multi-disciplinary teams to strategically collaborate with partners using updated product information, helping to drive down costs and time to market. PLM is the foundation for the digital thread, delivering supply chain agility, business continuity, data governance, and traceability.
  • What is the difference between enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product data management (PDM)?

    Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a system that helps organizations manage financials, logistics, connect suppliers and partners, and reliably plan and schedule essential manufacturing processes. On the other hand, product data management (PDM) is a system that helps manage product-related data and processes. It enables teams to collaborate globally across concurrent design environments. Engineers are able to manage and track reviews and change orders, and even generate bills of materials (BOM). They can manage multi-CAD and product data securely and steadily from a central repository. While ERP and PDM systems support different business needs, they are complementary. As such, they must be connected for a seamless digital value chain.
  • Who uses PDM?

    Multiple enterprise teams use PDM: engineers, designers, project managers, manufacturing engineers, suppliers, service planners, and others. This ensures multi-discipline teams leverage one single source of truth for product data. Invited users can access this data from any device anytime, anywhere they need it.
  • What is PDM used for?

    PDM is used to help globally distributed teams manage product data, automating and streamlining engineering processes. Designing a product involves managing various types of computer-aided design (CAD) and product data. Teams gain efficiencies in organizing, tracking, and re-using all design data with a single source of truth.
  • History of PDM

    PDM started out as a solution for product development design engineers to better manage, track, and re-use drawings, schematics, or paper files—all the data originating from the product development process. PDM also initially helped engineers manage files related to the CAD process.

Talk to an expert

Give stakeholders throughout your organization quick and easy access to product data. Windchill, PTC’s product lifecycle management solution, helps break down organizational silos leading to:

  • Improved time-to-market
  • Decreased costs
  • Improved product quality
  • More time for innovating

Windchill offers organizations the performance and scale they need to manage large data sets and with subscription pricing, you only pay for what you need. Plus, with easy integration to the ThingWorx IoT platform, data from smart, connected products in the field can be leveraged for a digital twin.

Ready to learn more about what Windchill can do for you? Submit the form and we’ll be in touch!

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