The Future of PLM is Specification Data Management

Product Lifecycle Management

At Specright, potential customers sometimes ask if we’re a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tool. In short, yes, we have clients that use Specright as their PLM tool, but the long answer is more revealing. 

The reality is that PLMs don’t address the core challenges of present-day manufacturing: the need to easily structure, manage, and share product and specification data at the “DNA” level across the supply chain. A different approach is required – it’s what we call Specification Data Management™. 

Grimmway Farms

Leading Companies are Choosing Specification Data Management

Listen to Specright CEO Matthew Wright’s talk on why Specification Data Management is the Future of Supply Chain.

With Specification Data Management (SDM™), Specright solves for the deficiencies of current PLM solutions at the specification level. Once we created a platform that addressed the core data challenges, the workflows to manage and handle the product lifecycle process were simple to create, manage, and implement with Specright. 

To understand how Specright addresses product lifecycle management needs, we’ll look at the history of PLM software, their use cases and deficiencies, and how to pick the right solution for your company.

The History of Product Lifecycle Management Software

According to Wikipedia, PLM software was first introduced in 1985 by American Motor Corporation to manage complex machinery. It then moved beyond cars to fighter jets (with literally thousands of parts) and was primarily focused on the engineering side of the development lifecycle. 

There are five main areas of a PLM tool: Systems engineering (SE), Product and portfolio (PPM), Product design (CAx), Manufacturing process management (MPM), and Product data management (PDM). Most PLM tools have Product Data Management (PDM) capabilities, but they only go as far as the Bill of Materials (BOM) level. A BOM is simply a list of raw materials, sub-assemblies, intermediate assemblies, sub-components, parts, and amounts needed to create a product. 

Beyond Bill of Materials - Packaging and Formula Specs

Specification Data Management starts with the DNA-level data, which enables users to unlock insights, unlike Product Lifecycle Management software, which ends at the Bill of Materials level.

Specright Company Key Metrics Dashboard

By focusing on data, not just process, SDM software enables companies to uncover insights into their supply chain. 

Since PDM stops at the Bill of Materials level, the underlying data surrounding raw materials, ingredients, formulas, packaging and so on are not structured and recorded in a meaningful way. 

Today, most companies struggle with managing the granular details of their products and how they relate to other products or raw materials in the supply chain – problems that aren’t addressed by PLMs or PDMs. 

When companies start to structure data at the spec level, they can start to fundamentally take action across their supply chain to better source and procure products, visualize trends across their business, and find ways to drive cost reduction and drive sustainability. None of this can be done with current PLM or PDM solutions.

How Specification Management Software Differs from PLM Software

Spec Linkages 

SDM creates relationships between Bill of Materials, raw materials, ingredients, formulas, and packaging. This enables various supply chain stakeholders to gain insights and visibility into how to optimize purchasing, improve quality, and increase speed-to-market. 


PLMs were made to be rigid, process-based tools. In contrast, Specification Data Management focuses on data, enabling companies to quickly pivot existing products to get to market faster than ever.

User Experience

Since PLMs were developed in the 80s, the interfaces, integrations, and user experience has been slow to evolve. In contrast, SDM was created as a cloud-based tool with usability in mind and accessible across computers, laptops, and phones.

Why SDM is the Future of Supply Chain

With many companies today focusing on cost reduction efforts, sustainability programs, and globalization of trade, not having spec-level data is no longer an option. When companies better manage their specs, they unlock cost savings, decrease quality issues, and increase speed to market. Download our eBook to learn why SDM is the future of supply chain.

Book a Demo to See How Specright’s Approach Is Different

Traditional approaches to product management stop at the Bill of Materials. The reality is, that’s only half the picture. Only by going deeper to specifications can brands unlock profitability and efficiencies.