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Jargon Buster


Needless to say – with so many different processes to support – our rapidly-growing industry has become littered with acronyms, buzz words and jargon. If you find yourself nervous about approaching a supplier or you simply don’t know your BOM from your FOB, our handy list can help. The list below contains definitions for each of the major (and some quite esoteric) PLM terms, to help our readers make sense of what can sometimes seem like a completely alien landscape. Simply choose a letter of the alphabet and a list of the acronyms that begin with that letter will drop down.

A a


Any combination of parts and/or subassemblies joined together to perform a specific function, and subject to disassembly without impairing any of its parts.


Terminology used by the PLM vendor during the project to gain approval of a New process or forms-printouts

Alphanumeric character

One of the numeric digits (0…9), or any upper- (A…Z) or lower-case (a…z) letter. For use within an item identifier, language-specific diacritical marks (Â,Ö) are avoided.


An authorised reviewer’s agreement to an item within the PLM implementation prior to go-live.


An electronic (digitised) file that has been associated with (“attached to”) a specific document, part, change form or other object managed within the PLM database.

B b


Bill Of Labour.

Bill of Material (BOM)

A list of all the components and subassemblies that go into a product assembly. It is the subset of a structure that includes only the physical items. A BOM can include a child relationship with the main product.

C c


Computer Aided Design


Computer Aided Manufacturing


A series of dates that determines the key dates for the development/production of an item (Product, Style, Fabric, Trim etc). Typically a PLM system will have a Season Calendar which set the baseline dates for all items being developed in that season and then a Product Calendar that gives the projected and actual dates that tasks have been completed. A rollup or dashboard screen of the Season Calendar against all the Product Calendars to show the Overdue, On-Time and Future Tasks in progress to enable easy visualization and tracking on any problems (Management by Exception). Calendars are typically calculated backwards from a future date such as the In Store, In Warehouse or Ready To Despatch (RTD) date.

Change Request Process

The Change Request Process applies when software needs to be modified or customised to incorporate specific functionality that is not available in the software. The team of interested parties together review and approve the new request for change and, subject to the benefits provided, will add into the next release. All changes should be carefully documented and signed-off by both parties to avoid scope creep!

Check-in/check-out, file

If a user wants to make changes to a unreleased file in the PLM system’s (library), the file is checked out which prevents other users from also modifying the same file. Checking out the file is actually a two-step process: the system first copies the file to the user’s computer, and then locks the file from further checkouts Once checked back into the library the file is then made available to other users.


Cost, Insurance & Freight. A shipping term that means the seller will quote a price including the item cost and the Insurance and Shipping costs to the buyers destination. This does not necessarily mean that any Import/Duty or Quota costs are included.


Computer Integrated Manufacturing.


A colourway of a garment or raw material that is the name of the colour of the item. This can be the same as the actual colour, i.e. Red, Green, Blue, a combination colour (Red/Green) or can be a stripe, print or other combination. In which case, the colourway name can be anything, i.e. Blue Star, Sunshine Strip etc.


A material (Fabric or Trim) purchased by the materials department, to be used within the specification, and applied to the main BOM (Bill Of Materials) selection.  Today’s PLM systems allow customer and vendor to work from one system filling in the details i.e. from the Mill and using the data to quickly populate the specification.


Changes in software modification that are identified to enable the PLM solution to meet the needs of the end users.

Configuration Management Workshops

Process used to document functional requirements and physical characteristics defined through a set of workshops that identify the As-Is and To-Be processes fully documented and approved by all concerned to be used to configure the PLM solution.

Critical Path

The Calendar of key dates (Milestones) that is the duration for the defined calendar taking into account the durations allocated to complete the tasks. The ‘True’ Critical path is sometimes defined as the longest possible path for a defined Calendar taking in account any dependencies (sub-calendars) or repetitions (Multiple samples) that are defined.


Customer Relationship Management


Cycle Time Reduction

D d


Distribution Centre.

E e


Enterprise Resource Planning

Export, data

The extraction of data which can be used within supporting applications coming from a PLM system and to be used to support secondary processes within other software applications.

Export, file

Copying of a file from the PLM database to another computer, while leaving the original file intact.

F f


Electronic data managed and stored as a single object.


Free-On-Board, the point to which the Seller of the item will deliver the goods. Any costs after this point are the responsibility of the buyer. EG FOB Hong Kong means that the seller will deliver and load the goods onto a ship in Hong Kong. Any transportations cost to the buyers Port, unloading etc are then the responsibility of the buyer.


Viewable (Page) within the PLM system, often linked by tabs to move from one form to another.


The action that a part is expected to perform in fulfilling its purpose.

G g

Grading (Incremental)

Records the growth of the pattern either from the smallest size to the largest incrementally, or records the growth from the base size down to the smallest and up to the largest incrementally.

Grading (Relative)

Records the growth of each pattern from the base size down to the smallest then up to the largest cumulatively.


Graphical User Interface.

H h


Human Resource Management.


How to Measure.

I i


Increased Inventory Turn

Import, file

The action of importing data from a file from a computer into the PLM system’s database.


An object that has generic characteristics such as an owning organisation name or title, creation date, and owner.


Refers to a change in the attributes of an item, without regard as to whether the item has changed. Example sample iterations refer to the number of samples prior to the final approval.

J j

K k

L l

Landed Cost

The total cost of an item (Item Cost, Freight, Insurance plus other charges) for shipping to a defined destination for the buyer, usually a home port or Distribution Centre(DC).


Landed Price.

Legacy data

Information created and used before introducing a replacement PLM solution. The data would normally come from a legacy PDM system.


A lifecycle identifies the maturity or Status of an item, product, or style for example Concept, Sampling, Pre-Production, Approved, Rejected. A Lifecycle can be driven by a Workflow process with the completion of tasks updating the Lifecycle in line with the Success or Failure of the task(s).

M m


Often referred to as a vendor or supplier, a third party that produces products or materials on behalf of the customer.


Used to describe the profit margin put onto the net cost price of a product, usually used as a percentage of the final cost.


Underlying data associated to a product or image, date, price, material properties, ownership etc.


A fixed date within a calendar that is used to track the progress of items in relation to that date.


Material Requirement Planning or Manufacturing Resource Planning

N n

O o


Out of the Box – A term used to describe a PLM solution that has a standard set of attributes and functionality to enable rapid implementation.

P p

PLM Plug-ins

Computer program that interacts with a host application (a web browser or an email client, for example) to provide a certain, usually very specific, function ‘on demand’. Applications support plug-ins for many reasons, including: enabling third-party developers to create capabilities to extend an application, to support features yet unforeseen, to reduce the size of an application and to separate source code from an application because of incompatible software licenses.


Point of Measure.

Product Data Management (PDM)

The predecessor to CPM (Collaborative Product Manager) & PLM, Product Data Management (PDM) systems typically include capabilities such as document and part metadata management, electronic file repository.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

As a concept, PLM links together all aspects of a product from conception, through creative design, production and finally delivery to the end users (Retail-Brand). Practically speaking, the software serves as a central hub for product data, with associated software systems (CAD, CAM, GSD, ERP, CRM,) workflow manages the pulling and pushing of data throughout the lifecycle of a products life.

Project Plan

A formal, approved document used to guide both project execution and project control. The primary uses of the project plan are to document planning assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among stakeholders and document approved scope, cost, and schedule baselines.

Q q

R r


Printout from the PLM system that displays data based on certain criteria, which the user can analyse to make decisions. There are three types of reports: Strategic, Tactical and Operational.

Strategic reports enables decision making for example Buy plan or investment plan report. Tactical reports allow analysis of comparible data, for example how many styles were required to be developed versus how many styles are developed. Operational reports are used by end-users to track the progress of information, for example, ‘Style Status’ report, ‘Sample Status’ report.

Repository, file

A storage area on a computer server that is managed by the PLM system for the purpose of storing electronic files related to objects in the PLM database.


Request For Information.


Request For Proposal.


Request For Quote.


Ready To Despatch.

S s


The process of developing a product for manufacture by creating versions of the product to enable evaluation for Style, Fit, Colour etc. An item can have many different types of sample eg, Prototype, Photo, Fit, Sales, Catalog, Pre-Production, Production or Final Seal etc.


Term used to describe the problem of a user requesting additional changes to be performed within the original project scope at no extra cost. The problem is that should the changes go unchallenged then the project will overrun both in terms of time and budget.

Scope of Work

This describes the work to be done in detail and specifies the hardware and software involved and the exact nature of the work to be done.

Statement of Work (SOW)

Document used in the systems development (with ICN) life cycle. An organization desiring to have work done (i.e. the prospective customer) produces an SOW as part of a Request for Proposals. Software vendors or services companies (prospective contractors) respond with Proposals. The SOW specifies requirements at a very high level. Detailed requirements and pricing are usually specified at a later stage.


A digital Storyboard is an electronic whiteboard that allows users to collage and annotate images. This allow designers to organise and communicate trend and inspiration to the team keeping them on track and updated with latest design direction, allowing full collaboration throughout the storyboarding process. There are several types of storyboard – Trendboards, Moodboards, Concept Boards, Colour Board etc.


Supply Chain Management.


Stock Keeping Unit. This is the lowest denominator of a Style that a customer can buy and is generally at Colour and Size-level. E.g. a Green Dress in a Size Medium generates its own unique ID.


A document that describes the technical requirements of a product, sometimes referred to as the Tech pack.

T t


An element of a Workflow or Calendar that allocates the carrying out of a particular function in order to complete the task i.e. Create a New Design, Evaluate a Fit Sample, Approve a Bill of Materials (BOM).

U u

V v


A version refers to a particular iteration of an electronic file, typically issued by a process or system outside the PLM system. While revisions typically identify successive steps in the evolution of an item, versions often are not sequential. Versions are commonly used for computer program files to identify a specific set of features, a set of bug fixes, and/or a particular build number. For example, a version “3.2.203” may indicate the marketing feature set “3.2” plus the compiler build “203”. While you have an accurate picture for how many releases are represented in going from revision “01” to revision “04”, you’d have little feel whether there were a few releases, or several hundred, between file versions “1.0.403” and “2.1.1042”.

Many PLM systems permit specifying both a revision and a version for the same item, which enables the PLM system to assign its own sequential revision to the outside system’s seemingly-arbitrary, and generally non-sequential, version.

W w


The automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which, information or tasks are passed from one person to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules. If the task is not completed on time then the people concerned are notified.

X x

Y y

Z z

Ben Hanson Ben Hanson is one of WhichPLM’s top contributors. Ben has worked for magazines, newspapers, local government agencies, multi-million pound conservation projects, museums and creative publications before his eventual migration to the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industry.Having previously served as WhichPLM’s Editor, Ben knows the WhichPLM style, and has been responsible for many of our on-the-ground reports and interviews over the last few years. With a background in literature, marketing and communications, Ben has more than a decade’s worth of experience, and is now viewed as one of the industry’s best-known writers.