Should PLM develop its own process tools?

There is no discussion – PLM is very oriented towards processes. In order to be able to coordinate multiple organizational activities around product lifecycles it seems like process tools is  a “must to have” component in PLM tool box. But is it really true?

In today’s world, process tools are becoming available as part of many non-PLM products. Starting as workflow automation, process tools were developed and/or acquired by platform vendors (IBM, Microsoft and others). Large ERP vendors also provided process tools as part of their packages. In addition to these big behemoths, many BPMS (Business Process Management Suites) are focusing on process definition, execution and improvement. In addition, some standards initiatives around BPMN and BPEL are also focusing on process management and tools.

So where does PLM play into this game? I see two possible options: (1) PLM providers will focus on the development of process management tools; (2) PLM providers will allow the integration of PLM information and IP  (Intellectual Property) into existing process tools provided by platforms. I believe that option #1 will be very helpful in integrating PLM systems into the enterprise software already available within the vast zoo of software within the organization, option#2 can simplify deployment and and keep the implementation of PLM simple.

From a customer’s standpoint,  I see great significance to maintaining single organizational process. Therefore, a promising alternative is to align the PLM process implementation with the growing adoption of standards like BPMN /BPEL. This allows customer to run multiple tools around the same process…



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