Saturday, December 10, 2022

Connecting Product Lifecycle Management to Product Roadmap Management

Early planning is advantageous for businesses of all sizes. Companies must plan and manage product rollouts in tandem with their wider business goals before investing time and money. To effectively manage this, business leaders must consider product design, engineering, and roadmap planning to ensure projects are aligned with the firm’s overall vision.

By connecting an organization’s product lifecycle management solutions to their product roadmap management systems, team members can boost their bottom line and ensure short term problems don’t become long term disasters.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a solution primarily for engineers and is increasingly being utilized by product managers. PLM helps teams come together to understand complex diagrams and detailed designs of products, helping everyone envision the assembly of the overall product lineup. Primarily engineering focused, PLM incorporates a company’s IP to ensure detailed engineering work is carefully managed, essentially acting as a repository for controlling changes on designs.

PRM, or product roadmap management, is more of a business unit function. A company’s wider business’s goals include high level decisions, such as determining key customer market segments and product rollout decisions. Businesses need a comprehensive platform, especially when an organization grows, to ensure their product goals are aligned with the wider company initiatives.

Oftentimes, organizations silo these two processes, isolating their PLM strategy from their PRM strategy. When this happens, engineering doesn’t provide status updates when changes happen on their side and business leaders do not properly communicate objectives and roadmap changes throughout the organization. To ensure an organization is operating efficiently, everything must work in tandem, especially with these two functions working closely together.

PRM is its own tool, acting as a dashboard for varying levels of leadership throughout the team, which includes sales, finance, and marketing. PLM is where engineers, project managers, designers, and testers thrive. These two units, when integrated together, can provide real time status updates and show how products are evolving. This helps track updates and provides continuity across different departments, ensuring business and customers’ needs are being met.

Linking both business systems is important for efficiency and achieving strategic goals. As an example, when product teams get real time data feeds from the sales teams, it becomes much easier to identify product issues. By tracking recalls or products that have low maintenance and warranty life, product teams can focus on those problems and look to improve the product quickly.

Once those issues are sorted and teams agree on a solution, integrating PLM with business systems like PRM helps make changes to future products and decisions, since new information is incorporated at higher levels throughout the organization. This ensures the product strategy is continuously in line with the roadmap set up by leadership.

PRM provides a holistic view that focuses on the broader company plans and incorporates product decision making factors over the long term. Product introduction, improvement, and changes are all integrated into a robust vantage point. PLM is more of an operation and acts as a tool for engineering, manufacturing, and project management teams to get together and focus on how to build products and how those products address market needs. When these two units operate together, organizations are better prepared to adjust to challenges, plan long term, and remain agile in the face of challenges before they spiral out of control.

Maziar Adl is the co-founder and CTO of Gocious; a cloud-based SaaS solution for strategic product planning