Firms dusting off Platform Life Cycle Management to deal with supply chain complexity

The modern, global economy has exponentially increased supply chain complexity, making it a challenge for firms to adapt, increase efficiency and maintain profits. As a result, some firms have turned to Platform Life Cycle Management (PLCM) to drive new supply chain capabilities and work processes.

A new White Paper by Mike Burnette, director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at University of Tennessee (UT), describes this phenomenon. Titled “Platform Life Cycle Management Best Practices” the paper discusses how firms are using Platform Life Cycle Management (PLCM) to cut through supply chain complexity and drive profits.  The paper provides a framework of PLCM, a set of best practices from benchmark organizations, and easy to understand examples.

Factors adding to supply chain complexity
–Globalization of supply chains creating increased time, distance, and cultural challenges
–Dramatic increases in governmental regulations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America
–Channel customer consolidation—shifting the supplier/customer balance of power
–Increased product personalization demanded from customers
–Emergence of new customer channels with new product requirements (i.e. packaging)
–Lack of internal enterprise discipline to manage SKU levels/product offerings.

Because many of these factors are “non-valued added” for consumers, they don’t want added costs passed on to them. As a result, supply chain managers are taxed with finding ways to increase performance using existing resources. These managers often spend time managing the daily grind rather than creating new solutions that will help their company function better.

Burnette found that companies successfully navigating this dichotomy are using Platform Life Cycle Management (PLCM), a business tactic from the past that has been revamped and successfully applied in new, holistic ways. UT interviewed 14 best-in-class firms that are using platform strategies to simplify, standardize, and create more efficient end-to-end supply systems, product design, and multi-functional strategies/decision processes.

The white paper outlines the strategy and then illustrates these best practices including:

PLCM starts with product design

PLCM needs a passionate Supply Chain zealot to lead the work

Simplify first, then standardize to enable scale and speed.


For more in-depth information on PLCM best practices, read the full white paper at

“Platform Life Cycle Management Best Practices” is the first installment in a new series of white papers called ‘Innovations in Supply Chain’ from UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute.