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PDM and SCM: Similarities and differences



Annita Persson-Dahlqvist, Ulf Asklund , Ivica Crnkovic, Magnus Larsson, Daniel Svesson

Publication Type:

Report - MRTC




Product Data Management (PDM) is the discipline of controlling the evolution of a product design and all related product data during the full product life cycle, historically with the focus upon hardware product design. The term PDM includes the overall description of the topic and the methodology, while a PDM system is a tool you use for managing the data and the processes you have decided to use it for. Software Configuration Management (SCM) is the discipline of controlling the evolution of a software product, with emphasis on the development phase. SCM is to a high extent based upon Configuration Management methodology (CM). The PDM and SCM domains have evolved in parallel with none or little communication. The complexity of products is increasing rapidly. Products are often complex systems consisting of hardware, software, and related documents, developed by several groups. This put high demands on support on several levels, both for the system level as well as for each group, especially during the development phase. One important requirement is the possibility to integrate product information systems. PDM and SCM is part of this integration, which makes it important for companies to understand both domains. The possibilities to integrate PDM and SCM is one of the key factors in product information management of today. This is the third report in the area of Configuration Management supported by The Association of Swedish Engineering Industries (Sveriges Verkstadsindustrier, VI). The study was performed during 2000/2001. The report is based on interviews from the industry, study of scientific and industrial literature, discussions with vendors and consulting firms, discussions with researchers in the SCM and PDM areas, and experiences from the steering committee and the authors. The report describes both the PDM and SCM domains, their similarities, differences, and trends. We propose solutions for different types of integration and suggest further studies. We found that despite the fact that these two domains are growing and develop functionality that are more and more alike there are still important differences. The history of PDM and SCM and the users within in each domain uses different terminology and they have different requirements in the tools they use. This is different to the integration of CAD/CAM and PDM, where the cultures are very alike. To make an integration possible the PDM and SCM users need a common terminology and information flow description to make communication possible. The study shows that PDM vendors have not focused on the support for software management. Similarly, SCM vendors have concentrated on support for software development only. In general there is a lack of knowledge of the combined disciplines, and research is needed to find out ways to integrate and interact. We have noticed a trend within both domains to understand the need for co-operation between PDM and SCM. For an integration to occur, however, vendors from both disciplines must co-operate.


author = {Annita Persson-Dahlqvist and Ulf Asklund and Ivica Crnkovic and Magnus Larsson and Daniel Svesson},
title = {PDM and SCM: Similarities and differences},
number = {ISSN 1404-3041 ISRN MDH-MRTC-54/2002-1-SE},
month = {January},
year = {2002},
url = {}