What PLM can do with MS Excel and SaaS/Cloud Services?

 

Microsoft Excel is extremely popular. In many cases people are very comfortable working with product data in Excel files. But Excel files need to be managed and this is unpleasant side of Excel story. What we can do with this? – We can take all intelligence of product data and inject Excel to behave in similar way. This is sounds like something we are almost doing today. But by using this we create multiple dozens/hundreds Excel files spread out in your organization. How possible to unify excel story?

 One of the possible option I see is to introduce Excel Services combined with Web Access. It will allow to provide users with familiar with Excel user experience to continue with their excel experience. On the other side data will not be part of Excel file anymore and can be located in your PLM system or other Enterprise systems and vaults in organization. You can also combine data from PLM system (such as Bill of Material) with information coming from external databases (i.e. compliance data or any other). By moving data on cloud or consuming SaaS application services you can discover additional options to transfer Excel into composite application with user experience adopted by many users in your organization.

 Any comments on such approach? Do you see it possible in your organization?

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  • Yann Malet

    I have seen this scenario applied in some companies except that the data gathering is usually not a piece of cake. Since exporting data from PLM system is usually complex, inflexible and usually export only.
    This end up in pushing people to save locally their files. Which is very dangerous since as soon as this data is disconnected from the central repository their are obsolete. I have implemented something like this in order to do some business intelligence on the data accumulated during the life cycle of the product. This systems was pulling from ERP, SRM, PLM systems a dump of the data in CSV, XML format then this was imported into a mysql DB and then I used the ODBC capability of EXCEL to build the reports in EXCEL.

    So the key for this kind of scenario is to lower the barrier to import/export data.
    Regards,
    Yann

  • Yann, Agree with you. Work in export/import mode is dangerous and possible can create islands of data. What I had in mind is way to feed excel services by data coming from API/WebServices etc. In this case you actually not creating Excel files, but still provide desired user experience. Regards, Oleg

  • It’s a great idea! Merging PLM and SharePoint seems to be a good strategy for many companies.

  • Oleg this idea an your wiki are one in the same. If you render a set of page, you would render them as a list. Excel in the case you are refering is just a list. Actually it doesn’t really work… Think of a parts list in a project. Some parts you track the Elec ID and on other you don’t. Some parts you track voltage, but you don’t on the nut, bolt, door, handle… Different parts require different data models (a problem PLM struggles with). A problem we have solved with our structured wiki. If you like this concept then stay tuned to http://www.vuuch.com.

  • Chris, if you see Excel and wiki as rendering mechanism – you are right. My point with Excel was just about almost everybody love to work in Excel on almost everything. Regards – Oleg.