My Slice of PLM Single Version of Truth

I have a crazy idea to discuss today. I’d like to talk about a topic that we like very much and that is often discussed when we mention PLM. The topic is a “single version of the truth”. In my opinion, in many cases, we do present it as being obvious.. Yes, the fundamental intention of Product Lifecycle is to cover a product from the initial concept up until the product is manufactured, released, supported and recycled. So, having a unified way to manage product, processes, and resources is one of the most important ideas concerning PLM.

Today’s enterprises are becoming very dynamic: changes are happening all the time; companies are working with a wide range of suppliers for different purposes. How can PLM provide affordable and scalable solutions for such a dynamic eco-system? This creates a lot of challenges for a company providing product data and lifecycle management solutions. How you can get everybody synchronized in the way you do business processes, and how can you keep your PLM systems up-to-date in this environment?

So, I came to a working conclusion that I’d like to discuss. My point is that in today’s enterprise eco-system, you cannot demand people to agree about how to manage your product data and processes. Ah… I know, it sounds bad, but bear with me for few more minutes, don’t close this post:)… I think today’s data management is too complex to allow large organizations to agree on a single way to do business and implement a PLM system to follow this agreement. This task is too complex and too long. You won’t be able to finish this task and you will have to start with new one! So, this is probably the most fundamental problem in today’s system implementations. It’s too long and too expensive since we are trying (and we need) to agree on how to implement the systems.

Here’s my 5-point view on the subject as follows:

  1. Organizations and systems are too complex to agree on PLM related data, processes and best practices.
  2. Successful PLM implementations need to focus on how to manage ongoing system changes.
  3. Best practices and processes in an organization will be a result of multiple changes and improvements in the PLM system implementation.
  4. The system needs to keep track of all changes
  5. We need to have very a flexible PLM system, and I don’t believe we have one yet.

What’s my conclusion? I was reading Jos Voskuil’s blog post about PLM ROI yesterday and thought about why ROI for PLM is not obvious. My take on this today is that, probably, as our implementations are still too big and too complex, people see this as very big and fundamental investment. So, they need to double-check themselves with many calculations around ROI. Allowing ongoing changes and modifications of PLM systems will make implementation simpler and ROI calculations easier…

So, don’t keep quiet… I know you won’t all agree with each other – but let me know what you think.


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  • Oleg, another great thought-provoking post! I am ALL about defining the ROI & KPI’s BEFORE the PLM success criteria are set, and as I am exclusively working with IBM-Focal Point for my PLM Practice, and as it has financial-metrics & BPM Analysis inherent in its collaboration model. Setting ROI expectations are a fully integrated part of my (& my firm’s) value proposition.

  • Glenn, I appreciate your comments! Can you share (or point) on your methods and way to set ROI expectations? Do you believe, organizational agreement is achievable? or vendors need to handle it using technological and not organizational approach?
    Thanks, Oleg

  • So why do implementations have to be big and complex? how can it be simplified?

  • Good thought as well Josh, and as Oleg has posted in the past about the simplicity of SaaS PLM, which again, is captured in this brief 5-minute demo on FocalPoint: . More support for EAI/ERP/BPM via web-services is there as well, making the deployment a less conplex offering, AND addressing KPI & ROI metrics.

  • Josh, In my view, organization have long path to agree on what they are doing and consolidate their plans, ways to manage data, processes etc. What is proposed today by most of the vendors is phased approach that allows to customers to do it in phases. My point is if agreement ever possible. Idea is to transform PLM systems to manage change and not single point of truth. -Regards, Oleg

  • Glenn, This is great demo. I’m sure SaaS, WebServices can change and improve what we have today. But the problem of corporate agreement remains the same… don’t you think so? Is there chance to make businesses to agree on way they are managing data and processes? this is painful in my view…. what do you think about this? -Oleg

  • Oleg, the Web 2.0 collaborative nature of Focal Point, supports “centralization” and transparency between IT & the business lines and process models – eliminating the gaps that typically allow disagreement & misalignment to occur. The value prop stack supports the same – Focal Point helps product development organizations to increase the success of their product lines by:

    Capturing business inputs in the form of business and market requirements from customers, analysts, market research, and internal stakeholders

    Utilize visualization, prioritization, and unique road mapping and planning capabilities to create plans that are valuable and achievable

    Bridge the gap between the business and engineering by centralizing information key to decision-making, status reporting and portfolio reviews

    Prioritize and visualize customer needs to reduce the risk of minimization or elimination during project delivery of the most valuable capabilities

    Centralize information to escape the chaos of managing data in emails, documents, and spreadsheets, speeding the ability to respond to changing market and business conditions

    Overcome the influence of the loudest voice in the room and use objective information to support decision making

    Make enterprise architecture plans actionable and value-driven by assessing requests against business priorities, and road mapping alongside other initiatives.

    I work very closely with IBM on these pillars, and define success like YOU DO, via collaboration, per MANY of your previous posts Oleg.

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