Product lifecycle management software is about streamlining the product management processes and data in a secure and centralized platform. If you’re looking for the best PLM software, this guide can help narrow down your options.
Over a decade as an entrepreneur, I can attest to the difficulty of managing the product lifecycle – from conception to retirement. Fortunately, I’ve discovered the right solution to get the job done right the first time – the PLM solution.
It makes the product creation and delivery process more accurate and efficient while saving time and money. I’ve tested many PLM software, and today I’ll highlight 7+ of my recommended options, including their popular features, types, and more.
- What Is The Best PLM Software?
- 1. Autodesk Upchain – Top Pick
- 2. Propel PLM – Best Value For Money
- 3. Arena PLM – Most Features
- 4. Duro – Best For Ease Of Use
- 5. SAP PLM – Best BOM Creation & Management
- 6. Bamboo Rose – Best For Digital Transformation
- 7. Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM – Feature The Latest Technology
- 8. Backbone PLM – Most Useful For Creative Teams
What Is The Best PLM Software?
If you’re in a hurry, check out my top 3 picks at a glance: Autodesk Upchain, Propel PLM, and Arena PLM.
|Best overall. Excellent for managing and easing complex product development processes.||Best for collaboration. Excellent integrations with enterprise-level features and services.||Feature-rich. Most useful for the dispersed workforce and highly intuitive for work use.|
|Try Autodesk Upchain||Try Propel PLM||Try Arena PLM|
Let’s get this discussion rolling to help you make an informed decision.
1. Autodesk Upchain – Top Pick
Cloud PLM Software With Product Data Management Solution [Custom Price]
There are tons of factors to consider when buying PLM software. The first two factors are its type and deployment option.
Upchain PLM is recommended if you prefer standalone PLM modules hosted in the cloud.
Since Autodesk acquired Upchain in 2021, their developers have incorporated their CAD features into the PLM software. One you can expect to use is the 3D CAD viewer and markup.
This feature allows stakeholders, customers, and suppliers to access real-time 2D or 3D CAD data.
The best part is that they can access it even without user licenses. Upchain PLM also features intuitive dashboards where you can view and access all data and other features.
Regarding the other features, its functions cover the entire product lifecycle – from the beginning to the end of life.
You can start the creation process with its project and product management. You have the option to start from scratch or use its built-in templates to save time.
The templates are highly customizable to ensure you can deliver precisely what you need.
You can also automate the generation of part numbers to save quality time. Other must-have PLM features you can use are listed below.
- Change management
- Design document review
- BOM (Bill of Materials) management
- Document management
Wait, there’s more…
Upchain platform is also built as a Product Data Management (PDM) software. Therefore, you can connect your product development process with ease.
Pros And Cons Of Autodesk Upchain
|Offer unique product versions per user type (project managers, team, and project participants)||The customer support team isn’t always reliable|
|Teams can gather feedback in real-time even without assigning CAD licenses||Has steep learning curve|
|Include centralized and intuitive dashboards for hassle-free progress tracking||Not the easiest to set up|
|Offer 10% discount for software renewal|
Autodesk Upchain Pricing Plan
Upchain PLM software offers three products. Each is designed per user type to ensure it will satisfy their project’s needs.
I will discuss each briefly to give you an idea. The discussion focuses on the type of users and features included.
- Professional: Recommended for engineers and project managers who want access to all its features – PDM, PLM, and workflows and integrations.
- Team: Recommended if you work with contributors and feedback-givers. You can get all features except CAD software plugins, BOM management, and automated parts numbers.
- Participant: Most suitable for any members that only follow the project’s progress. They can access features such as 3D CAD viewer and markup, change management, dashboards, standard templates, and role-based permission control.
You have two options to get started – request a demo or a personalized pricing quote.
2. Propel PLM – Best Value For Money
Cloud PLM Software That Streamlines Product & Customer Lifecycle [Custom Price]
Propel PLM is the best option if you intend to get an integrated suite. It’s built on the Salesforce platform to get enterprise-level security, privacy, and cloud infrastructure.
It’s easy to configure and integrate with existing Salesforce Clouds (sales, service, marketing, etc.) and AppExchange partners.
You won’t be disappointed when it comes to ease of use because Propel PLM shares a similar user interface to Salesforce. You can view all product and customer data on any device (desktop, tablet, or mobile).
They also optimize the training for new users, experts, and everyone in between.
With the combined technology and solution, Propel PLM promises to deliver a faster time to market. They deliver this through contextual collaboration.
As a standard, it can connect you across your value chain to collaborate efficiently from product creation to resolving quality issues.
To maintain the privacy of your data, it provides you with access control. Besides that, the contextual collaboration also offers complete data visibility to see the current market conditions.
Another unique feature of Propel PLM is its component and supplier management, the feature that strengthens supplier collaboration.
It provides several functions to manage parts and their sources. Onboarding, audits, and supplier scorecards, to name a few.
By default, it provides the standard product lifecycle management features (see the list below).
- Project management
- BOM management
- Change management
- Document and CAD integration
It also features real-time analytics where you can compare and manage costs (within BOM), display all reported issues, and update the current project status.
Pros And Cons Of Propel PLM
|Feature a collaborative platform with an intuitive user interface||Search functionality needs improvement|
|Effortless importing of data||Time-consuming setup|
|Highly configurable without coding|
Propel PLM Pricing Plan
Propel offers two custom pricing plans, but only the Product Performance plan offers the PLM solution.
You can use all the features available with additional QMS features (Quality Management System). If this isn’t enough, you can always purchase add-ons.
- Medical regulatory compliance
- Full copy sandbox
- And premier support
Get in touch with Propel’s sales team. They are happy to give you a custom pricing quote or answer any of your inquiries.
3. Arena PLM – Most Features
Cloud PLM & QMS Software That Streamlines Product Development [Custom Price]
Managing a dispersed workforce is never easy. From sharing ideas to design approval, everyone struggles to stay up-to-date with the current progress.
But no need to worry because Arena PLM offers an excellent solution.
This standalone PLM software offers an easy-to-configure and deploys platform where your business can grow and collaborate. The best part of it, all its solutions are goal centric.
Choose PLM for operation if you aim to speed up the product launches efficiently.
It will connect your team with contract manufacturers, suppliers, design partners, and in-house teams to ensure meeting product delivery timelines.
Problems can lead to costly delays. To eliminate its potential (including rework), Arena PLM provides complete visibility and options to share and track all data and recent changes.
Role-based access is also provided to protect your intellectual property (IP) and privacy.
Another solution you can select is the PLM for Engineers, the ideal choice for succeeding at new product development (NPD) and new product introductions (NPI).
It will align the manufacturing process with your downstream groups to help you avoid mistakes.
Like Propel PLM, it allows you to accelerate time to market by addressing interoperability and design for manufacturability (DFM) during the product development stage.
Attending several meetings a day can also cause delays.
Arena PLM solves it by providing formal and informal collaboration options. Automation is also provided to speed up routings and work cycle (example: engineering change order).
The screenshot above is an example of how easy it is to create an automated change order process.
To complete the PLM package, Arena includes other features. These features completed the platform to solve the modern product development challenges and speed up product launches.
- Product control record
- Quality management
- Training management
- Requirement management
- Regulatory and compliance
Pros And Cons Of Arena PLM
|Easy to use and set up||Lag or slow processing speed may occur when performing complex operations|
|Provide an auditable and secure platform for informal and formal collaboration||Allows you to process or change items in bulk, but it’s time-consuming|
|The dedicated product manager is reliable and helpful|
|Offer unique solutions by industry|
Arena PLM Pricing Plan
Arena PLM offers two package options for your operation.
- Launch (Custom pricing): The package provides you with everything you need to create a centralized platform for your product design, development, delivery, and more. Its infrastructure offers unlimited storage capacity and three workspaces.
- Scale (Custom pricing): Get this package if you want additional features like quality management, issue management, business insights, and security controls. Its infrastructure provides unlimited storage capacity and eight workspaces.
You can also purchase licenses for your team, partners, and suppliers. Each license option is dedicated to specific access control.
Visit Arena’s package website to learn more about your options.
4. Duro – Best For Ease Of Use
Cloud PLM Software Streamlines All Stages Of Hardware Development [$450 a month]
From my top 3 picks, we have learned that cloud-based PLM software addresses all challenges across your team, operation, and supply chain.
I’ve listed down the best benefits it provides so far.
- Automation saves your team’s quality time from non-productive, labor-intensive administrative tasks (manual sourcing for components in website/catalog, encoding of components in spreadsheets, etc.)
- Full-featured integration maintains proper collaboration, design control, and approvals.
- Everything else helps you reduce time to market.
Duro’s Cloud PLM Software can deliver all these.
It’s built with efficient workflows to run tasks and quickly identify and remove bottlenecks. Creating and managing workflows is easy – it only takes a few simple steps.
Duro is also integrated with different parts distributors.
Therefore, your team can verify pricing, stock levels, and other insights crucial to your milestones. Each product is shown in a neat dashboard to make it easier to understand.
Other features included depending on the industry your organization belongs to.
For example, your organization belongs to aerospace and defense. This PLM software will provide complete traceability of product-related information about the supplier-sourced components (spreadsheets or e-catalogs).
If a specific component is outdated, it will send an alert signal.
Did you accidentally edit the wrong component?
No need to worry because it has a rollback feature that can restore any changes to its previous version. Using common integrations and RESTful API, you can also integrate with your existing business systems.
Pros And Cons Of Duro
|Responsive web interface with intuitive design||Search function needs improvement|
|Only require a low learning curve||Provide limited online tutorials and documentation|
|No required installation or complicated settings to configure|
Duro Pricing Plan
Duro PLM software focuses on hardware development and supports distributed teams. It currently offers three product packages, each described below.
- Starter ($450/mo.): Include three user licenses, 2 GB of file storage, MCAD integrations, data validation, supplier access control, and more.
- Professional ($750/mo.): Includes five user licenses, 10 GB of file storage, change order management, multiple approval types, change notifications, and more.
- Enterprise (Custom Pricing): Recommended for any organization needing custom solutions, custom user licenses, and unlimited file storage.
Schedule a demo today with Duro and learn more about its functionality.
5. SAP PLM – Best BOM Creation & Management
Supply Chain Management Software With PLM solutions [Custom Price]
SAP is a popular household name for its business software, particularly its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. They combine the right technologies to solve common and complex challenges across your operation.
Automation, IoT solutions, and predictive analytics are a few technologies they have used to improve your product quality, lifecycle, and development.
You can centralize all your tasks, progresses, timelines, and other insights through its project and product portfolio management. Since all information is unified, it can identify anomalies and risks in the project early on.
You’re also allowed to evaluate and predict product costs before implementing them.
It uses SAP HANA to ensure it will calculate the product cost in real-time. You can enable the listed features if you also want to determine the product’s target price and profitability (see below).
- What-if simulation
- Target costing
The best part of this solution is it boasts a flexible user interface for ease of use and deployment.
That’s right. You can use SAP PLM whether you deploy it in the cloud or on-premise.
SAP not only offers one PLM solution but two.
The other solution is enterprise product lifecycle management (also known as SAP Teamcenter by Siemens). All features of SAP PLM are included with additional key features.
One key feature worth highlighting is the product documentation dashboard.
It presents an organized and neat UX design to ensure everything is easy to search and navigate.
Other key features it offers are listed below. All features contribute to your team’s success in designing quality products faster.
- Bill of materials (BOM) management
- Change management
- Document management
- Electrical design management
Pros And Cons Of SAP PLM
|Best ERP integration||Managing documents and data are challenging at times|
|Provide centralized insights on project progress||Steep learning curve|
|Offer training and certification classes|
|Provide resource management and optimization for better utilization of the right resources|
SAP PLM Pricing Plan
Request a demo today and learn how it can improve your workflows (from product ideation to manufacturing) and profit margins.
6. Bamboo Rose – Best For Digital Transformation
Multi-Enterprise Product & Supply Chain Platform With Retail PLM Software [Custom Price]
Bamboo Rose is another option for an integrated suite. But compared to its competitors, it’s the only one that packed six product and supply chain solutions in one secure platform.
Digital marketplace, Financing, GTM, PLM, sourcing, and PO management are the solutions offered.
Together, they simplify the workflow process – from product ideation to delivery. Another good difference is that it supports the design and development of retail products.
Focusing more on the PLM solution, Bamboo Rose divided all its features and categorized it based on its purpose.
Creative Design is where you can access all tools to create, share, and improve a product’s design. You can use the 3D and Adobe integrations to build a centralized library of product designs.
It is also handy for speeding up the sharing process.
Various libraries are made available to improve product quality (material, color, digital artwork, etc.). You can even create and test private labels for branded merchandise.
Other features you will find helpful are materials management and product development.
Bamboo Rose may not be as feature-rich as the others, but it remains competitive. Mainly because its platform is supported by modern engines that boost the efficiency for optimization, costing, and scheduling.
Pros And Cons Of Bamboo Rose
|No additional setup fees||Limited option for app integration|
|Provide an interface for the web and mobile devices||A steep learning curve is required|
|Best for introducing products and streamlining delivery|
Bamboo Rose Pricing Plan
Bamboo Rose offers a custom pricing structure. Reach out to their sales team and request a personalized pricing quote or schedule a one-on-one meeting.
7. Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM – Feature The Latest Technology
PLM Software With A Built-In Closed-Loop Quality Management Solution (QMS) [Custom Price]
Oracle is another big name in the market you can trust. For its Fusion Cloud PLM software, the company built it on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
Ease your mind that it always receives regular updates and implements only the latest best practices.
Like SAP PLM, this software also leverages modern technologies to fill in the gaps between the customers and products. I’ve listed the technologies it uses to give you a clear idea.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Built-in predictive analytics
- Digital Twins
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Machine learning
- Quality assessment
- Social monitoring
These latest technologies also work to turn raw data into actionable insights.
Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM is a feature-rich platform. To guarantee ease of use and navigation, it develops a simple dashboard.
Every function it offers is displayed neatly with unique icons for quick identification.
Digital Assistants are included to free more of your team from non-productive, everyday tasks. It uses automation to speed up the process without compromising accuracy.
You can also use this feature as a guide for new users.
Like most competitors, Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM offers product development, quality management, and configurator modeling. The latter is responsible for optimizing each product’s user experience and testing the new versions before releasing them.
One unique feature of this PLM software is the graphical navigator.
Once the concept creation is done, you can use this feature to assess if there are any problematic areas.
Are you ready to commercialize your new products? If so, you can use its product master data management (MDM).
It includes all the tools you can use for efficient collaboration (internal and external users) and sharing your product data across ERP, back-end SCM, and order fulfillment systems.
Pros And Cons Of Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM
|Can pinpoint, understand, and resolve issues faster||Pricing rates are a bit expensive compared to its competitors|
|Provide product documentation and support training||Take a longer time to learn the software|
|Efficient tracking of all part preferences across all stages|
Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM Pricing Plan
There are two ways to get started with Oracle Fusion Cloud PLM. You can first take its product tour to explore its interface and functionalities.
When you’re sure this is the right PLM software for your needs, you can contact the sales team to request a free demo or a personalized pricing quote.
8. Backbone PLM – Most Useful For Creative Teams
PLM Solution Built On A Cloud-Based Product Development Platform [$99 a month/user]
Are you looking for a PLM system that suits the needs of product designers? If so, Backbone PLM is the right choice for you.
Its platform is packed with efficient tools that will boost your designers’ productivity and creativity.
It’s also a cloud-based platform, making it accessible for everyone, no matter where they work. All its PLM tools are categorized based on their intended purpose.
Under the Design features, you can use its Adobe Illustrator two-way plugin. This means you can edit any product design directly within Adobe Illustrator without harming the original/current artboard version.
It has an automatic sync function to protect it from accidental data loss.
One unique feature is the image annotator. You can now include labels into the image, so your designer will immediately know what to revise.
Efficiently shortening the time to market lies on the product development tools.
Backbone won’t disappoint as it offers several impressive tools. Below, I’ve listed popular options that efficiently turn a design into a product.
Case studies are also included to learn how to use each feature to your advantage.
- Tech packs: Create quality templates.
- Bill of Materials (BOM): All revisions are automatically reflected in your BOM. You can even create templates for new products.
- Blocks Library: Helps eliminate duplicate work by creating rules that standardize formats for specification, value, and measurements.
There’s more to learn about Backbone PLM. Visit its website to know how it can help your business to grow.
Pros And Cons Of Backbone PLM
|Product creation is easy||Steep learning curve for new users|
|Recommended for non-technical teams, freelancers, and small businesses||Occasional glitches may occur at times (slow processing/loading speed)|
|Responsive support team||Setting it up is time-consuming|
|No additional cost for integrations|
Backbone PLM Pricing Plan
Choose one of Backbone PLM’s three pricing plans to get started. Each pricing plan is primarily designed per number of users.
- Backbone Lite ($99/mo/user): Include all features that allow you to create product design and tech packs effortlessly. You can start with a free trial using your Shopify account.
- Backbone ($199/mo/user): Get all PLM features and add up to ten users. It offers a free demo, onboarding, and training for new users.
- Enterprise (Custom contract options): The recommended pricing plan for larger teams that require custom solutions.
Contact the sales team to schedule a demo.
Managing the product lifecycle and development process indeed requires a great deal of effort. There are many challenges to address that could impact your profitability.
PLM software happens to solve these challenges efficiently.
Out of the PLM products mentioned above, Arena PLM is my most recommended option. It may not be the most popular in the market, but its ease of use and configuration makes it an ideal choice.
Not to mention, it’s the only PLM software that addresses and meets various regulatory compliance, including environmental and export control regulations.
EU MDR, FDA, ISO, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and Export Administration Regulations (EAR), to name a few.
It’s a plus that it’s developed for dispersed teams. Since the pandemic forces every business to adopt this type of working environment, this product lifecycle management tool can help your team stay productive and business ahead of the competition.
Book a demo with Arena to learn how it can improve your product lifecycle management faster.