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I want to know if Sharepoint can be used for entire product life cycle management. Our products have a hardware and software component. The software consists of both embedded firmware running on the product, as well as web applications or websites developed in Visual Studio for our head end system etc. We use TFS as our source code repository and version control system for all software domains. What we want to do is tie up the following aspects of our entire product life cycle management:

  1. Requirements solicitation
  2. Document and BOM management and version control and approval (move documents from pending to approved approved or released state). Document will include technical specifications, drawings, circuit diagrams, FRS, URS, Requirements etc. All this needs to be reviewed by relevant stakeholders and go through some signoff or approval process to move the published state.
  3. Project planning and management (we use MS Projects for generating project plans)
  4. Source code repo, version control and code reviews (TFS used currently)
  5. Bug tracking - TFS
  6. Release management - TFS
  7. Test management - TFS
  8. Project Collaboration - Sync with Outlook, Skype etc.

Can Sharepoint be used to integrate all the above, possibly with Office 365?

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The short answer is 'Yes SharePoint can be used for PLM".

The slightly longer answer is "Yes SharePoint can be used for PLM, BUT depending on the size of data it might not be the best tool for the job".

To elaborate a bit on the second answer, here a few bullitpoint for you to take into account:

  • SharePoint Online run a whatever speed Microsoft dictates, and you can't pay to speed things up. So are a few seconds delay in displaying elements going to be a significant cost over time due to time wasted and/or poor user adoption? If so On premise is really your only option here. Personally I'm hesitant to advice customers to use SharePoint Online for business critical processes.
  • While SharePoint is fantastic for documents and version control, it's pretty bad for sharing documents outside the organisation (though SharePoint Online has a decent option to share with external users, but the abillity to share with external users are handled on colelction level which mean you risk users share sensitive documents with external users by mistake)
  • Getting where you want to be in terms of automatisation will require quite a lot of fine tuning by a superuser with some form of experience in either sharepoint specifically and/or .net/javascript/C# etc.
  • SharePoint (Or rather the sql server running SharePoint) don't like element batches over 5000. So you would have i design the solution with that limit in mind
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Below are some comments on each of your aspects of PLM and its requirement mapping with SharePoint.

Requirements solicitation Use document library to store your requirement documents, create extra columns to store your metadata if required.

Document and BOM management and version control and approval... Again this can be achieved by use of document library and enabling versions. You can use approval workflow for automating approval and review process in place.

Project planning and management (we use MS Projects for generating project plans) Either you can use excel(not as good as MS project server).

Source code repo, version control and code reviews (TFS used currently) SharePoint cannot be used for as source control

Bug tracking - TFS SharePoint list can be used to track bug, assign bugs, etc.

Release management - TFS SharePoint list or document library based on how release documents are prepared.

Test management - TFS Use share point document library to store test management, please note that any

Project Collaboration - Sync with Outlook, Skype etc. Yes, SharePoint can display SIP information from where you can directly ping user, also you can use SharePoint workspace.

Can Sharepoint be used to integrate all the above, possibly with Office 365? Summary - It can be used if you have good information architecture planned and in place, use team sites template and create your custom list and libraries for other requirements. I would suggest not to use it for source control.

Hope this helps..Happy coding..!!

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