The Key Differences Between a PLM and PIM

In this blog, we’re going to be taking a look at the key differences between PLM and PIM to help you decide which one is right for your needs. The software industry is plagued by meaningless acronyms that can make it impossible to determine what type of platforms and software you actually need.

Two perfect examples are Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Product Information Management (PIM) software.

While both serve an important service in getting products to market, it can be difficult knowing which one you really need to succeed.

Let’s jump right in:

1. Defining a PLM software

A PLM ,or Product Lifecycle Management software, is designed for development team collaboration. It provides accurate historical data covering a product’s entire lifecycle.

This historical data lets developers access data to help them continuously improve the quality of their products. A key difference between PIM and PLM is PLM’s focus on the manufacturing aspect.

Once designs are complete, product development teammates use PLM software to access those design documents even though it is not applied to the design of products. The software provides a collaborative environment without the need for email or generic communication software.

A PLM provides context and a logical way to organize information. This way, teams don’t have to sort through endless email chains or try to get in on “chats” that aren’t conducive to productive teamwork.

Instead, they have unified product data from day one, that is updated in real-time as designs progress. As a result, your team can review every stage from conception to the final product once it reaches distribution.

2. When to use a PLM

PLM is the tool for developers in need of the ideal collaboration tool. PLM provides an environment that is both collaborative and immersive for true teamwork beyond general discussions or one-off questions.

Chat tools often prove difficult to search and track. PLM provides the perfect platform to discuss product development and follow progress in one location.

All the information is there, including the most recent stages of production – while, as time passes, the historic data remains.

That historical data is key to the product lifecycle process. The data allows teams to constantly make products better, review tweaks that made big improvements, and avoid the ones that don’t. They understand where to make cost savings and also speed up time to market.

Once the product makes it to market, the data can be loaded into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or a Product Information Management (PIM) software solution. A main key difference between a PLM and a PIM here is when each software comes into play.

3. Defining a PIM software

When looking at PIM vs PLM, you see that Product Information Management (PIM) software is a centralized information hub for product content once it is developed. Store, update, and distribute correctly formatted product info for your website, as well as different ecommerce marketplaces.

Once a product is approved to go to market, this is where all related product descriptions, images, video, specs, etc. live. PIM software’s main function is to provide a central location for all product information to reduce the risk of duplication, inconsistencies, or inaccurate information reaching the customer.

As a result, you can ensure high-quality product information reaches all sales channels that are both accurate and properly formatted for various uses.

PIM software also improves efficiencies across various teams improving your entire value chain for your team and customers. Like PLM software it enables collaboration and also accepts multiple media assets. This makes it easier to distribute information to your website or marketplaces accessed from your digital asset management (DAM) system.

As a result, multiple departments can share, search and access everything from Marketing Data Visual Assets to Customer Data and from final Design Specifications to Financial Data.

4. When to use a PIM

If you are asking yourself, ‘Do I need PIM?’, then you’re likely looking for a central hub to store, edit and manage their current product data. If you sell products online, PIM systems offer powerful syndication and distribution capabilities so you can sell on multiple channels.

A PIM allows you to automate up to 80% of manual product data management processes and formats across all your marketplaces.

You’ll always have access to the latest enriched product information, so no matter where your product appears, it is aligned with high quality, enriched descriptions, and visuals.

You can ensure all content is channel-specific for uploads to meet the varied marketplace standards. However, you can also use PIM software across different departments including:

  • Product and Category Managers/Product Merchandisers: Gain full visibility of products so you can push overstocked SKUs to clearance sales channels. Automatically apply discounts based on specified stock levels and shut down sales channels running low.
  • Sales and Marketing: Access accurate and up-to-date product information needed to effectively market and sell products. Automate campaign planning and management processes. Create rich product descriptions to improve SEO while also improving customer experience.
  • IT: Automate department workflows via no-code automation engines and open API architecture to integrate your entire tech stack. Reduce the risk of mission-critical data errors and unauthorized changes to product information.

Simply put, a PLM is designed for the product development stage, while PIM applies to the sales and distribution stage.

For more information on PIM, take the tour here.