It’s no secret today that manufacturing organizations have to do more than just create and distribute great products. Organizations looking to stay competitive in the market must look for ways to more effectively collect, manage, and leverage data to improve all operations from design through production. For organizations looking to better meet the demands of customers, implementing configuration lifecycle management (CLM) could be the next critical step in strengthening manufacturing operations.

Customers are demanding more product configurability, generating more product variants that have to be managed—that’s where configuration lifecycle management comes in.

What Is Configuration Lifecycle Management?

Configuration lifecycle management is the process of adapting a bill of materials (BOM) for different product configurations. These additional product configurations are often driven by different business purposes, which are then all aligned for maximum quality in productivity. Implementing a strong configuration lifecycle management strategy is critical for integrating BOM management into other manufacturing systems like product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and customer relationship management (CRM).

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The Phases of Configuration Lifecycle Management

Configuration lifecycle management unites various manufacturing processes to ensure the right teams have the visibility they require into configuration data. There are eight phases involved in the CLM process:

  1. Develop: This is the phase where the product is designed and is the starting point that defines the different options and customizable variations for the final product.
  2. Price: Customizable products require more time and energy, so of course, pricing must reflect that. Teams must consider demand, competitive factors, and other commercial dynamics. Ensuring access to configuration data provides the basis for accurate pricing based on part cost and product positioning.
  3. Market: Market demands help dictate how the enterprise delivers it’s final product to users, which then defines the regulatory requirements that have to be considered. Varying environments will require alignment with different market expectations as well as possible local or regional regulatory requirements.
  4. Sell: One of the benefits of configurable products is that those customizations can be passed on to customers. That means both individuals and cohorts of similar buyers must have their customizations noted at the point of order and then managed throughout order fulfillment.
  5. Source: Complex, global supply chains are often made up of numerous sub-suppliers, which should all be coordinated within the configuration lifecycle management solution. This coordination allows inputs to be coordinated for the production line by communicating between the BOM and ERP automatically for purchasing and product planning.
  6. Build: At this phase, the configuration lifecycle management generates the needed variant forms of the BOM to inform production for all the different variants to power work orders, build instructions, process flows, and more.
  7. Maintain/Service: Once the product is being used, configuration lifecycle management is used to create necessary variant-specific service and maintenance materials such as service BOMs, spare parts lists, and maintenance manuals.
  8. Dispose: Configuration lifecycle management helps ensure that variant requirements for recycling, reuse, or disposal are accessible and up to date for when products reach their end of life.

Configuration lifecycle management is similar to product lifecycle management (PLM) in that it helps manage all the data associated with a product from design through manufacturing and disposal.

Why Should You Implement Configuration Lifecycle Management?

Similar to product lifecycle management, configuration lifecycle management helps to manage and maintain all of the increasing amounts of data being created across product variables in the lifecycle. Configuration lifecycle management not only organizes and unifies all the data coming in, but it also ensures it is accessible in the formats required by each of the enterprise teams and processes that need it.

Configuration Lifecycle Management Benefits

Configuration lifecycle management gives your team a competitive edge by:

  • Supporting end-to-end product lifecycle traceability
  • Creating a single source of truth
  • Enabling a platform approach to product families
  • Maximizing manufacturing productivity even within more complex manufacturing processes

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Configuration Lifecycle Management and the Digital Thread

Configuration lifecycle management unites PLM with other critical business systems and processes. It completes the digital loop by enabling the digital thread that can empower the rest of your digital transformation initiatives.

Configuration lifecycle management is a key enabler for digital transformation.

Ready to Get Started with Configuration Lifecycle Management?

Like other digital transformation initiatives, it can be hard to decide where to start with configuration lifecycle management—but you don’t have to figure it out alone. We can help your organization understand which solutions are best for you or how you can better utilize your existing tech stack. For more information on how to implement configuration lifecycle management, just contact us.