Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM)

What is Configuration Lifecycle Management?

Configuration lifecycle management is the management of all product configurations across all business processes throughout a product’s lifecycle. CLM addresses the demands of manufacturers of complex systems and configurable products that typically have to integrate all their business units and external stakeholders to ensure process continuity and accurate data exchange.

Configuration lifecycle management (CLM) facilitates communication between sales, manufacturing, service, and engineering teams regarding product configuration information and rules. CLM enables manufacturing companies that sell complex products with variable options to bring all product configuration data into one centralized location accessible by all business operations teams.


  • CLM
  • product configuration management

Phases in the Configuration Lifecycle

Several business processes are involved in defining the variables in product configuration. When configuring a customizable product for sale, it flows through the following phases of the product configuration lifecycle to ensure that the product can be manufactured according to the customers’ specifications:


The develop phase of the product configuration lifecycle is when the product is designed and developed. All product variants and options are defined in this phase.


In this phase of ordering a configurable product, price is determined based on the product configuration options, the target market, production costs, and desired profit margin. 


In this phase of the configuration lifecycle, market demands and local regulations factor into the product’s customization and availability.


The salesperson customizes the product based on the customer’s desires, resulting in an order. In this phase, a CRM and CPQ system enables the sales rep to generate a sales quote and get the customer to sign off on the order before it is sent for fulfillment.


Supplies are sourced to manufacture the item(s).


The product is built according to the configuration determined in the previous phases. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate configuration errors before reaching this phase.


In this phase of CLM, any updates or aftermarket components are added in ways that are compliant with the initial configuration. 


Depending on the materials used in manufacturing the product, disposal requirements or laws may apply when the product reaches the end of its life. Complete configuration lifecycle information enables conformance with disposal requirements since the product composition is documented during manufacture.

CLM benefits

  • Enables the consolidation of all configuration data into single-source-of-truth.
  • Maintains complex product configuration rule data.
  • Configuration engine guides customers, sales, and service teams through the product configuration process.

Product configuration lifecycle management is essential to ensure that product configurations remain accurate and up-to-date throughout the product development process and the entire product lifecycle. Organizations can avoid costly mistakes, improve efficiency, and better meet customer expectations by managing configurations effectively.

Challenges Addressed by Configuration Lifecycle Management

CLM breaks down the siloed systems traditionally found in manufacturing companies. For example, products are typically defined in a product lifecycle management system and sold using a CRM or CPQ system. They are then manufactured using an ERP system. A CLM system provides accurate records for product definition logic and configurations to all of these systems and aligns them on what is available. 

In addition, CLM addresses the following challenges facing today’s manufacturers:

Increasing Product Complexity

As product complexity increases, so does the need for effective configuration management. Configuration lifecycle management helps ensure that products are designed and built correctly and that changes are made in a controlled and safe manner. In addition, configuration lifecycle management can help reduce the risk of errors and improve overall product quality. By managing the configuration of products throughout their lifecycle, companies can improve their chances of delivering successful products to market.

Global Markets and Distribution Channels

Businesses operating globally must consider factors such as local regulations, customer preferences, and geographical impact on product design in their configuration process. CLM ensures salespeople can create accurate price quotes from the correct product and price data.

Customer Relationship Extends Beyond the Sale

Revenue growth is at the forefront of all competitive companies that realize the initial sale is just the beginning. Therefore, extending and expanding the customer relationship beyond the first sale is crucial. For example, many products now contain embedded software or sensors that may require upgrades after the sale. CLM ensures the seller can track the initial product configuration and all subsequent changes, providing an opportunity for optimizing revenue from upselling, cross-selling, and additional services.

Digital Transformation

Manufacturers digitally transforming their businesses find it beneficial to use CLM to align their marketing, sales, service, product configuration, ERP, and manufacturing systems. Connecting business processes through CLM improves the following:

  • quote accuracy
  • product turnaround time
  • product quality
  • customer satisfaction
  • revenue

People Also Ask

What are the stages of the configuration management lifecycle?

Configuration management lifecycle includes all activities related to creating, maintaining, and retiring product configurations. All involved parties must coordinate these activities to avoid errors and inconsistencies.

There are four main stages of the configuration lifecycle:

1) Planning and design
2) Implementation
3) Operation and maintenance
4) Retirement

The planning and design phase is when the product configuration is first created. During this phase, the requirements for the product configuration are gathered and defined. Once the requirements are finalized, the product configuration is designed and implemented.
The implementation phase is when the product configuration is put into use. During this phase, the product configuration is tested to ensure that it meets all requirements. After the product configuration is verified, it is deployed to production.

The operation and maintenance phase is when the product configuration is used daily. The product configuration may be updated or modified during this phase. If changes are made to the product configuration, they must be tested and verified before they are deployed to production.

The retirement phase is when the product configuration is no longer needed. During this phase, the product configuration is decommissioned, and all associated data is deleted.

What is configuration management in PLM?

Configuration management in PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) is a process that helps companies manage the changes made to their products during the development process. By keeping track of all modifications made to a product, companies can ensure that they always have the most up-to-date version available. This allows for more efficient production and prevents errors if outdated versions are used.

Configuration management also provides transparency throughout the product development process, as all stakeholders can see which changes have been made and when. This can help to avoid misunderstandings and disagreements about the product’s evolution. In addition, having a clear record of all changes can help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.