Product lifecycle management (PLM) provides a logical approach to managing the series of changes a product undergoes, from its design and creation to its ultimate discarding or retirement. PLM is linked to manufacturing, but the management structure can also be utilized for service provision and software creation. PLM can be grouped into the following stages:
Beginning of life (BOL) - includes new product design and creation processes.
Middle of life (MOL) - includes collaboration with suppliers, warranty management, and product information management (PIM).
End of life (EOL) - includes plans for how the products will be discontinued or recycled.
A PLM software solution can assist enterprises to manage their product's lifecycle by providing a data warehouse for all the information that affects the product. The software can be used to automate the management of product-related data and to combine the data with other methods such as manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). The objective of PLM software is to reduce waste and enhance efficiency. PLM is considered as a vital component of the lean production model.
First, be clear about the reasons why you wish to use a SaaS product. You should also have a good understanding of your existing infrastructure and business procedures. This information will assist you to easily integrate the SaaS platform with your existing infrastructure without any difficulty.
The second consideration is a follow up to the first one. Ask yourself what you want the SaaS product to do for your organization. Then, be clear about the functionality the system should have. For example, if you want enhanced data collaboration between different business departments you need a platform that can be accessed by multiple users. However, if you need a competent system that is similar to an on-premise program, you need to invest in a SaaS software that can be accessed by only a few users at a time.
After you pick a suitable provider, do not sign an agreement before you take a good look at the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA will clearly state what the SaaS provider is offering and the reparation they will pay if they do not deliver the agreed services. Read and understand the SLA thoroughly to know what you are getting into and to avoid issues later.
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Main Functionality – rates the software’s ability to meet its main promise or USP.
Customization - Rates the software’s customization tools that allow the business to match the software’s functions to the business’ specific processes and current needs. Tools to watch include: custom reports; custom fields; custom business processes; logo insertions; and color palette choice.
Collaboration Features – rates the software’s functionalities that allow team members to work together, share documents, ideas and best practices. Includes tools such as: communication platforms (IM chat, VoIP, email, social media, phone); real-time features; attachment and association capabilities; and automatic task and contact associations.
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Ease-of-use – rates the level of difficulty in learning and using the software. Features to watch include: self-help tutorials; quick lookups; dashboard; drag-and-drop tools; intuitive behavior; search and data retrieval; formats and templates; and steps to perform a task.
Help & Support – rates the level of technical and customer support by vendor. Attributes to measure include: live support (chat); tickets; free and freemium support services; knowledge base support (PDF, recorded webinars, forum); and paid support plans.
Security – rates the software’s security infrastructure including the following features: enable/disable data access; password encryption; data backup; and official seals from reputable organizations that vouch for the software’s security.
Media Rating - averages the ratings by major review sites, such as: CNET, Gartner Vendor, MacWorld and PCMag.
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