To make fair and accurate comparisons, it is important to clearly define the scope of PLM. At the same time it is important to understand that not all companies define the scope of PLM the same way. Some PLM vendors, mainly those who have their origin in CAD, CAM and/or CAE (CAx) and still have these tools in their portfolio, include them in the scope of PLM to be able to report larger revenues. Some industry analysts also include these tools to make the PLM market look bigger. The PLM Technology Guide defines the scope of PLM more narrowly - as illustrated below - and distinguishes four different capability levels: Foundational Capabilities, which correspond to the traditional PDM capabilities, extended capabilities, integration capabilities and strategic capabilities (see also “What is PLM?“).
The importance and value of PLM varies throughout the lifecycle of a product. It is most important from ideation to product launch, i.e. during the development and design of a product, and has lower importance between product launch and the end of production, i.e. during manufacturing and distribution, when ERP takes over the dominant role. Finally PLM gains a little more importance again in product support and maintenance.