PLM Prompt: Does it make sense to create simple PLM?

I enjoyed to read Simplicity is Hard by Larry Cheng. Had few straitforward thoughts out of this. Our PLM systems are damn complex. How to make it simple? Few proposals: 

1/ Flat User Inerface -no complex structures

2/ To visualize only what do you realy need 

3/ Tag & Search everywhere 

What do you think?


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  • Jovan

    When I was in engineering school, trying to find out the best algorithm to approach over-constrained non linear systems, a teacher came to me and told me KISS. After realizing he was not trying to sexually harass me he told me what it meant: Keep It Simple Stupid… and he was damn right!

  • Jovan, Yes, KISS is good approach!

  • Hi, have you tried Aras Innovator? Cause this solution pretty much gathers the 3 points you mention. I really enjoyed discovering this product, microsoft IE7 interface, search everywhere, easy to work with, or to deploy for consulting. What is the solution your using that is not providing thos 3 points?
    by the way you can download aras on

  • Yoann, Thanks for comment! I never tried Aras as user, but may be this is my time :)… I’m very familiar with PDMWorks, SmarTeam, MatrixOne, ENOVIA, TeamCenter. I’m not familiar with currently available PLM solution that can satisfy these requirements on the perfect level. This is problem in my view. And, yes, you can say these are very generic requirements. But, that’s why it’s hard. You think you are almost there, but you are not!

  • Simple PLM? Thats a great idea!
    Perhaps the answer is to hide PLM from users. A user completes their daily tasks in familiar office or technical applications and is not really aware that they are “doing PLM”.

    They use a standard CAD “File Open” dialog to find the data they need – they are automatically browsing the PLM database instead of their hard drive, and see preview graphics of 3D CAD models for fast visual validation that they have found the correct part.

    Another example – they are writing a report in Microsoft Word and get a notification that they have a design task to complete (it came from their PLM database via Microsoft Outlook but that is not important). While still in Word they browse the design database to review the details of the proposed engineering change and kick off a new CAD session to start the design work.

  • Just read the concept of PLM Prompt – will make my comment shorter nxt tm 🙂

  • David, thanks for comments! The idea to hide PLM behind desktop and CAD tools exist already few years. MS developed it and called Office Business Application (OBA). This is nice, but still doesn’t work well in my view. But Excel works… :)… Google works… Craig’s List… all these are example of simplicity. – Best. Oleg

  • Oleg,

    Perhaps I am the only one with this question, but I would like to know how you would suggest reconciling these two statements:

    ” I’m not familiar with currently available PLM solution that can satisfy these requirements on the perfect level. This is problem in my view.”

    “Jovan, Yes, KISS is good approach!”

    In my view, perfection is unachievable – especially when it comes to commerical software development (which is why no wide-band commerical software company I know of believes they can be SEI CMM Level 5), and almost always when attempted, is the opposite of simple.

    Maybe I am the only one with this view?

  • Dave, I like your question, thank you!… I think KISS is good approach when you want to achieve excellence in general and user experience specifically. I think we are not there yet. Therefore I mentioned we cannot do it in perfect way. I do believe software is something you need to do cycles – try, test and validate with your customers and improve again. This is why I think Google is very good in the way they are doing work. But this is not simple :)..
    Does it answer your question? -Best, Oleg.

  • Hi Oleg,

    You are quite welcome – nice to have a forum to discuss some of these issues.

    But in all fairness, no – it doesn’t answer my question, but perhaps I’ve done a poor job of phrasing it.

    So if you will forgive my response with limited time spent rethinking it, I would ask the following.

    If not to achieve excellence in general, and user experience specifically – what is it developers of PLM solutions should be trying to achieve?


  • François


    May be PLM developpers should spend some time using their own software in a real context, meaning with real complex data, during 10% of the working time.
    Maybe it’s time to put user panels upfront experiencing the softwares before their launch.

    On the other hand, I do not think our PLM softwares should be more simple, they are like that because they support business processes which are not simple at all.
    The issue is more for me in the question: who need that complexity, and standardization of access to PLM apps. Both together bring every new piece of complexity to all users.

  • Hi Dave, I’ll try to provide my view. I think excellence is something PLM companies need try to achieve. The top priority in my view is simplicity, usability and adoption rate. Great to have discussion and I’m looking forward your next comments! Best, Oleg.

  • François,

    I think practice that make developers to have better connection with real work can provide great benefits. Unfortunatley not all companies are following these strategies. I think in the environment where software development is team-effort, practice to have cyclic development in the way of “non-stop beta version” also can be appropriate way to get R&D feeling of user environment.

    On simplicity… this is something I cannot agree. I think this is simple to create something complex. This is what we creating in mainstream. To create something simple is very hard task. You can easy put 100s of items in your menu, but try to cut it to 3… this is will be really hard. Last time I have feeling we need to following statement “Don’t make me think!”. Today’s PLM made me think a lot…. this is problem in my view.

    Best, Oleg

  • Oleg,


    Adoption is the key objective in my view, because a solution not used returns no ROI, regardless of how functional or capable it is. And like Francois, I believe the software designers (I use this word deliberately rather than architects or engineers) do not understand anywhere near enough about the world in which their users (both present and future) live.

    Simplicity drives adoption, but as you pointed out in your response to Francois, and with which I am in agreement, to create something complex is relatively easy; to create something simple yet functional is most difficult. Excellence to me is directly proportional to the level of achievement of this last point.

    I wonder – what approach could be constructed to achieve this for PLM?


  • Dave,
    This is great question and this is one of the my key objectives. And, within time, I don’t think there is “silver bullet” that will solve problem of PLM adoption. I see PLM (or whatever other associated TLA – EDM, PDM etc.) part of dynamic technological and engineering (computer/software engineering) world. But, I don’t see PLM is using surrounding technologies good enough. There are many areas where we are doing more/less the same for the last 10 years… I see consumer related technologies are very focused on simplicity and adoption – mobile, games. Collaboration technologies are also very focused on simplicity – Google Wave, SharePoint…
    In addition, I think industry discussion is also very important. To facilitate industry discussion is primary focus of my blog/social -related activities.
    Best, Oleg.

  • Laurent


    I fully agree with you guys on the importance of simplicity. It is tough to make things simple, because doing so, R&D people have to make choices about what is really important and what is less, so it takes some courage (and knowledge of customer needs, of course).

    Now, PDM is not inherently simple (like managing configuration, variants, product structure altogether), so dealing simply with this complexity is a real challenge.

    There is probably an opportunity here, because most of the existing PDM systems have been designed with large organizations in mind, and I assume that they did not have simplicity in mind back then. Today, PDM is more common, and smaller organizations also want the PDM functionalities, but they simply don’t find what they want on the market (so they keep on using Excel , file naming rules and other tricks).

  • Hi Laurent, Thanks for your comments. I agree, Excel have significant market share. I definitely see “second innovation” wave here. -Best, Oleg.

  • François


    there was a misunderstanding, I agree PLM apps should be more simple. I just pointed out some reasons I see why the applications are so complex today. Customers want everything: OOTB apps, specific workflows, quick access in 3 clicks to the right data, same access to every user, low cost for implementation, no update of the software,…
    Finding simplicity today is finding the right balance between all these requirements. Finding simplicity in the future should, I agree, focus on simplicity of PLM apps usability. Some of the traditional PLM implementers call that Experience…

  • François, thanks for clarification. I understood. I think this is just priority change. Regards,Oleg

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