What is Product Data Management? - Definition & Tools

Instructor: Jagina McIntyre

Jagina has conducted professional training in communications and analytics for 12 plus years, with a a degree from Kent State University in Journalism and Communications.

Welcome to product data management, where you will learn about the process of centralizing data about a product into one location, as well as how this data is used strategically within a company.

Product Data Management

Do you work with products on a regular basis? Have you found yourself wondering if there is a better process for keeping up with all the information related to a product? Are you just one of many people who interact with a product in your company? Well, product data management may just be the tool for you.

Product data management (PDM) is when a company uses a centralized software system to store all the information related to a product. This system feeds all the other systems within the company that require information about that product. This information can include everything from the raw materials used to construct that product to how it was built. The data can be used across a variety of business functions, from design to marketing.

The History of Product Data Management

PDM was originally used primarily for the computer aided design (CAD) process. Engineers needed a better way to keep up with paper documentations related to the development of a product. This centralized system was designed to keep up with all the data associated with a product. PDM continues to be used very heavily by engineers today, but also used by many others who build any product through a series of processes and raw material. Any business user who interacts with a product throughout its lifecycle benefits from the use of this information collected.

Information typically stored in PDM includes:

  1. Technical specifications - measurements and materials.
  2. Drawings - electronic or manual visuals of the product.
  3. Bill of materials - or BOMs, for raw materials.
  4. Engineering documentations- how a product is constructed.
  5. Other documents- example, photographed images of final product.

System Design

A PDM system should be centralized and contain version control and security, which keeps the data accurate and adds accountability to those that manage the data. The PDM should be part of a larger, more encompassing, product lifecycle management system (PLM). A PLM includes the systems to which the PDM feeds data, such as an internet repository used for marketing the product online. A PLM is a more encompassing strategic series of systems used by the business to communicate about the product. A PLM encompasses every aspect of a product from inception to market deployment.

The data collected for product data management is processed for deployment to be used in other strategic systems throughout the company. The other systems make up the product lifecycle management.
The data collected for product data management is processed for deployment to be used in other strategic systems throughout the company. The other systems make up the product lifecycle management.

Imagine your company sells cookies. Your online store may have photographs of various types of cookies to purchase. Those product shots may include special editing to make the product more appealing online and only stored in the marketing system. However, the PDM system should contain the raw ingredients for each cookies, along with a picture of how this cookie should look in its most basic form. This picture is used more for identification than a marketing tool. Each cookie will contain a technical description of how the cookie is prepared to ensure that there is a consistent look and taste to each cookie created. However the marketing software, which is part of the larger PLM system, may also contain a softer description that only applies to how the cookie description will read online, along with that marketing photo. For example, 'Melt in Your Mouth Goodness,' with a photo of a cookie and a tall glass of cool milk in the background, might be in the marketing part of the larger PLM system.

Product Stages and Tools

A product usually contains three distinct phases to be considered a product:

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