PLM 0002

Key Takeaways

  • Product data management software includes essential features for organizing and tracking data.

  • More advanced product data management software features enable sharing and project history tracking features.

  • Integrating with other enterprise systems in a PLM platform, the best product data management software can play an essential role in a PLM strategy.

Best product data management software

Engineers that have led development on multiple projects are familiar with the amount of design data that can be generated. Design data is generated in various formats and often in numerous software applications when building a new product. All this data needs to be tracked and organized. As a designer’s portfolio of projects and data grows, so does the need for a solution like a product data management platform or a full-fledged PLM system.

When looking for a data management solution, what features are needed, and what benefits do they bring? Something simple like Google Drive or Dropbox can give you some features you might need to keep your project data organized and shareable. However, the best product data management software can do much more than just store files and allow sharing. To help you get started, we’ve outlined some features you’ll find in the best product data management software for engineered products.

Features in the Best Product Data Management Software

Engineers have several tasks they need to complete in any design. The role of product data management software is to ensure electronics engineers can organize and track all their project data as they work to complete a procedure. Each file set for a project might come from different software applications, each producing other file formats. Product data management software must overcome the challenges surrounding different file types, file access and release, revisioning, and collaboration.

Some of the primary features product data management users need are listed below.

Data Organization

Any product data management software platform should act as a basic file storage system that allows users to organize files by type, project, date, user, or any other type of categorization. The same type of file system features you would find on a desktop computer should also be present in your product data management software platform:

  • Built-in folder system for organization
  • File add/remove/modify history
  • File format-agnostic storage
  • Redundancy through backups, undo delete, etc.

Once data is entered into the product data management system and is organized, more advanced features within the system, and design software are used within the design process.

Data Sharing With Permissions

Data storage and organization are the bare minimum features needed in a product data management platform. The best software platforms enable the secure sharing of project data with internal collaborators and external stakeholders. Other engineering teams, customers, external manufacturers, test engineers, and other vendors are some of the parties that might need access to product data. The best product data management systems will also provide various access control levels with permissions for different groups, allowing control over viewing, downloading, and editing product data.

Version Control and Revision History

Once data is modified, or new versions of files are uploaded into the system, these files should be entered into version control, such as a Git-based environment. Version control systems allow quick comparisons between different versions of files as well as the ability to roll back to earlier versions or fork these into new file chains. The best product data management software with version control allows revision histories to be generated at the file or project levels.

Integration With Design Software

Modern engineering design software provides multiple levels of integration with external applications, including data management systems. Some ECAD applications include a local data management server for user projects or can interface with a dedicated cloud platform to host project data. In either case, this allows ECAD users to instantly pull data from the data management software into the ECAD program and start working with projects immediately. Other applications could also remove project data from a data management platform via an API.


Most engineering teams are multi-functional, and multiple designers may need to collaborate on a design while keeping the core files inside a data management system. Collaboration features in product data management software can involve simply reviewing and commenting on methods and committing them to version control, or collaboration can occur live inside design software. In the ECAD and MCAD domains, collaboration on designs involves an import/export process between users, which the cloud inside your design software can facilitate.

Product Data Management in a PLM Process

Companies that design a broad range of products and take these to market will have a much more significant challenge in managing product data. These enterprises will need to implement a PLM strategy to help ensure their products stay competitive over the long term and can be periodically updated to extend their lifetime. PLM systems will use features in the best product data management software in unique ways, as outlined below.


Data needs to be organized into buckets and tracked with a numbering system; lifecycle status is also applied manually or automatically using data from an external resource.


Stakeholders will need different access levels to product data at each phase of the product life cycle, which needs to be tracked and managed.


Each revision to a project needs to be tracked, including changes to lifecycles, as part of comprehensive product management.


Data is accessed externally in various applications or web platforms as part of other processes. The system can also access external resources as part of lifecycle management.


Teams assign tasks, note progress on projects and change orders, and manage access at each lifecycle stage.

If you are looking for the best product data management software that complements enterprise PLM strategies, consider Teamcenter X. Pulse features include a workflow engine, data management, security protocols, and search capabilities. And Teamcenter X integrates seamlessly into many design tools, allowing it to manage the design data behind the scenes, freeing engineers to focus on their work instead of juggling design files.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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