PLM vs PIM: how to start your product journey right

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December 21, 2022

Find the right solution for your product data needs, from development to destination.

Starting a new journey is always exciting. The impatience when you’re waiting for it to start. The anticipation of what you’ll see along the way. The expectations of finally reaching your destination. However, all that excitement without the proper planning and preparation before you set off will only lead you to one place. Disappointment.

It’s the same for your products, and their journey from design, to manufacturing, to sales and beyond. If you have a game-changing new idea you think will revolutionize the market, you might be tempted to focus solely on the destination and all those sales. But it’s not that simple. Without the right preparation and diligence at the start of the journey, you’ll never get there.

But what do you need for that preparation?

It all starts with the data

Once you have this game-changing product idea, you’ll need to take it through product development. This forms the very start of your product’s journey, and will take in numerous internal teams, stakeholders, and processes. This includes teams as diverse as research and development, procurement, engineering, compliance, and many more.

During the process, these stakeholders will produce a whole host of data related to the development of your product, such as material specifications, origin details, and review performance stats. It will also include data related to the product itself, such as unit of measure, part numbers, part descriptions, and more. This might sound like a lot of data, and you’d be right. But if you want to start your product journey on the right foot, managing this data effectively is key.

But what’s the best way to do this?

Finding the right solution

Managing all this data from the product development process is no small task. There is data from an ever-growing number of sources and demands for this data from an ever-growing number of stakeholders. In short, a spreadsheet simply won’t cut it. And don’t forget, too, that this data is not only key for the development stage of the product journey, but also in meeting the demands for data throughout the entire journey.

Choose the right path

It’s clear, then, that you need a software solution to help you out with all this product development data. But what are your options if you’re in the market for better data management from the start of your product’s journey? There are two solutions that can help kick things off right:

But, which one is right for you?

PLM or PIM?

When deciding the best solution to start your product journey, it’s probably a good idea to understand your options:

What is PLM?

Product Lifecycle Management serves as a repository for all product development data related to design and iterations of products at the start of the product journey, typically seen as non-customer facing activities. PLM is primarily a product management tool that supports R&D, testing and compliance, manufacturing, procurement, and more.

What is PIM?

Product Information Management serves as a repository for all data related to the commercialization of the product throughout the product journey, typically seen as customer-facing activities. PIM is primarily a marketing and merchandizing tool that supports the market to order part of the sales and after-sales processes. Read the Gartner Market Guide for Product Information Management Solutions, Helen Grimster, 20 September 2022.

Difference between PIM and PLM

The main difference between the two solutions is the level of detail in the information each solution manages. For example, a PLM will contain details related to the product development phase that is simply not relevant for the use cases supported by a PIM, which are tailored to the sales and marketing processes.

The right solution for you will be the one that meets your needs for product data most effectively. But do you have to choose, or can these two solutions work together?

PLM + PIM?

In short, a PLM is great for storing the item data related to the many processes involved in product development, while a PIM takes the data needed for sales and merchandizing, cleans it up, and distributes it out to wherever the audience needs to see it.  

While there is some overlap between the two solutions, in many ways a PLM and PIM are complementary and can be integrated into the same tech stack. Indeed, much of the information held in a PLM forms the basis for the information in a PIM, making it essential when it comes to selling the product.

But if you can’t have both solutions, which one should you use to meet your needs?

PIM: the solution to power the entire product journey

Starting a new journey is always exciting. If you’ve prepared for your product journey, you should have a solution that manages all your product development data to ensure you’re starting your journey off on the right foot.

But don’t forget that the most exciting part of the journey is the destination. For your products, that means choosing a solution that gets you there by meeting demands for data throughout the product journey.

Only by integrating a PIM into your tech stack can you do this. And only by powering your product journey with inriver can you be certain that the right product information will be seen by the right audience at the right time. Every time.

For more information on how the inriver PIM can power your product journeys, speak to a PIM expert today or read the Gartner Market Guide to learn more about the PIM market.

Read part two in our blog series, PIM vs MDM: how to secure a single source of truth.

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author

  • Anders Josefsson

    Director, Product Management, inriver

    As the Director of Product Management, Anders leads a team of product managers, designers, and product marketing and launch managers. Their passion for understanding customer needs and pain points drive their focus on ideating, creating, and bringing to market viable solutions that meet those needs. Anders has 25 years of experience from product innovation in various industries and markets, and this experience comes in handy when creating the next chapters of inriver's product journey.

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