I don't really know since we only have EPDM and no PLM system. However, I looked into PLM a little bit. It seems like any PLM system is going to need connectors for your CAD program (to recognize CAD file links and have some in-session actions)...
In the case of Aras it was about the same price for Aras plus SolidWorks connectors (XPLM or Softech I think) vs for Aras plus EPDM plus a connector (what they call their Aras EPLM package). Both have similar functionality (on paper). I tend to think EPDM is going to be a bit better at the SolidWorks PDM side than 3rd party suppliers (who are SolidWorks Gold Partners) who probably don't put the same level of resources into it (as Dassault Systemes), but I could be wrong.
I will answer your questions based on my knowledge of PLM and ePDM:
1) PLM does not help designers (since PLM covers broader workflow and ignores the concept-to-release workflow).
Answer: Actually the exact opposite is true. Even though ePDM has a workflow engine, it is concentrated on the document and not the product. It does a good job of routing some ECO for change inside ePDM, but once that is complete, the release to the rest of the organization is mostly ignored
2) PLM primarily looks at the needs of manufacturing, IT, management, supply. chain, but does not improve the productivity of design department. In fact, many times it increases the non-productive work (filling data, PLM documents) of a designer.
Answer: That all depends on how the system is configured and what the business requirements are. PLM is still an engineering tool from the micro view, however does take into consideration the enterprise requirements as well. This may be where you assume PLM deals with manufacturing and supply chain. PLM is only concerned with the design Bill of Material and does not deal with or barely deals with the Bill of Manufacturing. They are trying to figure out how to do so, but I am still trying to get clarification from social channels.
3) PDM implementation captures metadata and brings discipline. This makes the further implementation of PLM smooth and effective.
Answer: I am not quite sure what you are trying to say here, but I will take a stab and say that PLM handles metadata and files in the same way as ePDM. There are nuances in the way the different systems behave, but for the most part they should manage engineering data in the same fashion. If you are stating that the progression from nothing to PDM to PLM is a natural occurrence, I would still counter that PLM does work in the same basic manner that PDM does.
4) PDM is less costly and doesn't require programming. PLM is costly and needs lot of consulting and programming. So PDM gives higher return on smaller investment. And it creates better ground for PLM implementation.
Answer: Well, this question is a sticky one. I can offer the following:
- Any software system worth is mettle will require configuration. If it doesn't it is not flexible and you are painting yourself into a corner by allowing the system to control your processes and data requirements.
- I don't see PLM as being any more expensive than PDM. It depends on the situation and the manner in which it is rolled out. There are many consulting firms out there and I would go out on a limb in saying the bigger they are, the more polished and expensive they are at the cost of quality. That is my personal plug... :^)
- I will agree with your statement that PDM data being migrated to PLM is an easier road over the mess that a shared drive can create or some other method of data management. It is almost always easier for database to talk to database, although even that is not categorically true. It comes down to how the data is stored and what rules have been applied to prepare the data for migration.
I hope this was helpful.