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Optimizing PLM Software Selection and Integration

Key Takeaways

  • What is PLM?

  • PLM software selection essentials.

  • How to best integrate PLM and PCBA development. 

Optimizing PLM software selection is essential for maximizing PCBA development and implementation management)

PLM: Product Lifecycle Management

Reliability is one of those words that is often tossed around, but rarely clearly defined. For electronics products and PCBAs, reliability is a metric that is defined by the end user.  This assessment is extremely useful as it provides the impetus for design improvement and better risk management. Yet, this feedback alone is not sufficient for broad utilization across various designs.

The ability to fail faster is a term often applied to PCBA development that seems to imply that less than optimal design is an expected part of the NPI process. Indeed, the complexity of many of today’s circuit board designs do require multiple iterations of the design⇒build⇒test (DBT) cycle to attain a production-ready design. However, once deployed it is expected that your boards will reliably perform throughout their project lifetime. How well this objective is met depends to a significant degree on your PLM software selection.

What is PLM?

PLM is applicable to all types of products manufacturing and can be defined as follows:


PLM or product lifecycle management refers to the management of all aspects of a product from inception through development and deployment and until the end of life.

Although, PLM is an entrenched business paradigm that all enterprises employ, the exact number of important activities may vary. However, the concept can be adequately defined by five stages.



PLM Stage 

Product Lifecycle Status



Product Development

Initial stage where ideation, research, design, manufacturing and pre-launch testing occur.


Product Introduction

Product launch.


Product Growth

During this stage, the product is gaining acceptance in the market. Any glitches or errors are typically identified and corrected.


Product Maturity

Typically, this is the longest lifecycle stage when the product has reached its peak impact and usage remains relatively constant.


Product Decline

The final stage of a product’s life, which may precede obsolescence, when product use is decreasing. Technological advancement and the introduction of alternative products is often the cause for decline.  

Of the stages listed above, items 2-5 are all in reference to the product’s term in the market; therefore, sales and marketing teams are heavily involved with monitoring and overseeing these intervals. Prior to and for the best performance during these stages, product development needs to be optimized, which includes making the best PLM software selection.

PLM Software Selection Essentials For Product Development

When choosing a software tool for PLM it is important that metrics and analytics are present that provide a transparent view into the product’s performance for all stages. This allows for making strategic marketing changes to increase growth and/or extend the overall lifecycle. In order to achieve the best ROI for your PCBA design, comparable access and control is required during product development.

A critical aspect of optimal product development is good data management, which necessitates the use of a software tool that has the following capabilities. 

PLM Product Development Software Capabilities

  • Automated data acquisition, aggregation and metrics, KPIs display
    The primary function of PLM software for PCBA development is to manage design data intelligence. This includes gathering, analyzing and making data available in a usable form.

  • Up to date component library
    Making bad component selections is one of the primary reasons for redesign and other delays in PCBA development. Therefore, having accurate and up-to-date data about the status of parts is critical for mitigating risks and preventing failure modes.

  • Intellectual property (IP) accumulation and reusability
    The success of any OEM or ODM is intricately tied to the processes they employ for design and development. These processes and how they are utilized comprise your workflow process intellectual property, which must be well-defined and accessible.

  • Real-time communication
    An essential attribute of an effective workflow is the ability to communicate quickly.

  • Supports design collaboration
    For many projects, multiple engineers and/or designers are involved. Without a platform that supports this type of team design your project can easily become unwieldy, as well as time and cost expensive.

  • Allows for multiple designer access
    In addition to simultaneous engineers working on a single project, your PLM for product development should allow designers to leverage and reuse designs that have been validated and/or in-process. 

There are many options for PLM tools; however, for optimal PCBA development ensuring the above capabilities are present should guide your PLM software selection process. 

How to Best Integrate PLM And PCBA Development

Most PCBA design packages do not include the essential PLM capabilities discussed above. In this case, integration may be a challenge similar to performing when RF analysis or multi-board integration is required and your design tool does not include circuit optimization and simulation functionality. Fortunately, the integration of PLM and PCBA designs is available, as shown below. 

Single platform integration is a major consideration for optimal PLM software selection

PLM and PCBA design integrated in a single platform

Cadence’s Allegro Pulse, shown above, is an advanced PCB design and analysis development platform where data management is integrated with schematic generation, PCB layout, in-design analysis and design collaboration capabilities. This Allegro PCB editor and Pulse package is the optimal PLM software selection option available in the industry. 

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts.