IDC Spotlight Report: The Power of a PX Strategy in Omnichannel Commerce



Oct 27, 2022

5 min to read

What is Product Data Management?

If you develop or manage products, you know there’s a wide variety of data involved; a Product Data Management tool can often streamline the process of collecting, organizing, and sharing product information.




Data is having a moment. 

From AI and real-time data to Big Data to open data, everywhere you look, you see data. Consumer privacy laws are concerned with personal data. Medicine is awash in genomics data. 

If you work with it on a daily basis, you know it isn’t just data proliferating: For every type of data, there might be hundreds of data management solutions. Product data management—with its many iterations and mountains of digital paperwork—can be especially prickly. 

But product data management software is here to save your day. 


What is Product Data Management (PDM)?

The definition of product data management is a system for recording and managing design and engineering files, like computer-aided design (CAD) files, design drawings, engineering models, technical specs, manufacturing requirements, and bills of materials. 

PDM can also refer to an organization’s more general system for collecting, storing, managing, and sharing data. It allows information to be passed easily from engineers and designers to production, distribution, sales, and marketing teams. 

If you develop or manage products, you know there’s a wide variety of data involved: safety and sizing information, shipping times, SKUs, visual assets. When your products need to conform to very precise measurements and specifications, it’s even more important to have detailed, accurate information like pressure, voltage, and temperature-resistance specs. Ensuring your products meet measurement standards can be the difference between a usable, profitable product and a dud. 

For many manufacturers and retailers, PDM is vital to building an effective digital ecosystem. But do you need product data management software?


Benefits of Product Data Management Software

Are you drowning in data? Awash in information? Product data management software can help you organize and distribute it, which has tons of benefits for your business, including:

  • Improved collaboration. Effective PDM means that every department is always working from the latest information. Sales, marketing, product management, engineering, and quality assurance can be sure they’re referencing the right version, from development to procurement, improving collaboration, streamlining workflow, and breaking down silos.
  • Fewer errors. When you’re able to track every iteration of a product, you can reduce errors while creating better designs. Engineers won’t repeat tasks that have already been done or make the same mistakes that others have made. Then, the correct information will be input in your product information management (PIM) system, so sales and marketing know exactly what they should be talking about. 
  • Greater efficiency. When your teams are collaborating and making fewer mistakes, it’s easy to see how PDM can improve productivity. You can find the correct data, faster. You can communicate changes to your team in minutes. You can reduce your cycle time and improve supply chain orchestration. Ultimately, you can optimize your resources and reveal new efficiencies. 
  • Better customer experience. The link between product experience and customer experience is undeniable. You need to have the right data about your products so that you can communicate it clearly on your website and in your catalogs. It’s that simple: effective product data management leads to a great customer experience. 


Major Components of PDM Systems

Product data management definitions vary based on industry and product type, but most PDM software tools have several major components in common. If you’re in the market for PDM software, you should look for: 

  • File management. Product teams and engineers work with a huge number of files—and those files are large, up to 50 MB or even more than a gigabyte. It takes a powerful software to be able to organize and manage so much data, but that’s what PDM was made for. 
  • Change orders and Bills of Materials (BOM). If you have a lot of stakeholders and input, keeping track of change orders can be a headache. And when you generate Bills of Materials at the end of a project, you need to be sure they’re correct. Product data management software can help with both of these processes. 
  • Collaboration tools. Collaboration is a big benefit of PDM, and many systems come with additional tools you can use to share your work. Getting direct feedback within the same software you use for revisions and version control can streamline the process even further. 
  • Role management and access privileges. One big piece of the definition of product data management is security: You need to protect your intellectual property rights. PDM software allows you to do that by managing the roles and access privileges of users so they don’t see more than they should. 


What is the difference between PDM and PLM?

Product data management software collects and organizes data during the development phase, while product lifecycle management (PLM) software ensures that data is continuously updated throughout the remaining phases of its lifecycle. 

The product data from a PDM system provides the foundation for PLM by creating a single source of data for synchronization across ERP, PIM, and eCommerce systems.

As the product leaves the development cycle and enters the marketplace, the initial data migrates from the PDM to the PLM. From there, it’s updated throughout the lifecycle and helps inform continued product development and strategy. 

While there is a difference between PDM and PLM, the real question is which one you need. PDM is typically used during the design and engineering phases, while PLM tracks a broad range of information, including inventory, application code, sourcing, and distribution. 

Can PDM alone meet your needs? Or do you need to orchestrate more complicated relationships? 


What is the difference between PDM and PIM?

We know—PIM and PLM and MDM and DAM—there are so many acronyms in data management, it can be hard to keep track. 

Like PDM, product information management (PIM) is a part of PLM. But PDM and PIM do have some key differences. 

Both systems help you store, organize, and manage product data. The difference lies in the data: product data management software typically works with engineering and design files, helping to optimize the development process. Once the product goes to market, PIM takes over, collecting, organizing, and distributing that data to sales and marketing teams. 

In short, a PDM system supplies the raw product data. PIM systems take that data and incorporate it into your buying journey, creating rich, immersive customer experiences and streamlined sales and marketing processes. Syndication platforms take it even further, making it easier to sell on unowned channels and marketplaces. All of that helps drive higher sales, average order value, and revenue. 

So, is there one data management solution to rule them all? The singular solution that eliminates the need for all others? 

If you develop complicated products, you may need both product data management and product information management. Distributors and retailers, on the other hand, can likely be successful with a single PIM solution like Akeneo. 

No matter what you need, we can help you find the solution that’s right for you. Request a demo of Akeneo software today and get started on your PIM journey.

Continue Reading...

Join the Akeneo community!

Sign up for our newsletter and stay ahead of the curve on everything you need to know about product information management, product experience management and how to unlock growth for your organization.