The pains of file management, will PDM be popular again?

file-pain-pdmTime ago, I had chance to discuss second mover innovation. For me, second movers are perfect example to learn from experience, talk to customers and introduce something breakthrough in the place of something we have today. So far, I came to my old friend, PDM system. Actually, the perfect trigger for my thoughts was SolidWorks’s “pain of the file management” campaign. Actually, SolidWorks people raised a very good point – after decades of PDM and later PLM, how many people still have “file management pains”? My conclusion – still many…

If I will go back 10 years and analyzes what was the “value proposition” for PDM systems in the middle of 90s, my short list will be simple – 1/ability to control documents; 2/ getting right revision of my work; 3/collaborate with co-workers. So, what we learned since that time. My assumption is that lots of experience with different PDM approaches can be concluded as following.

  1. Successful PDM system should rely on a design system (CAD etc.)
  2. Designers and Engineers normally tries to put all possible and impossible information to PDM system.
  3. Complexity kills.

So, where we are after all these years? I think one of the main PDM trends these days is to have PDM capability combined with CAD system. When it makes a lot of sense in context of functionality, the reality is to have multiple CAD systems in organization. The second point is related to information PDM is trying to manage. Simple in the beginning, any PDM systems become very complex as soon as we stretch it to support additional information.

So, what will be PDM trends in nowadays? SolidWorks proposal sounds very right – there are still lots of people having “file pain”. SolidWorks PDM these days is a good example simplicity in managing of SolidWorks files and document. Is it new? Probably not. So, I just wonder what future PDM system will look like?

Best, Oleg


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  • Oleg what PDM methods do you use to manage documents within your computer? Do you simply manage a set of folders that have some connection to the projects you work on or are you using a PDM system for this?

  • Chris, I use mix of things – Folders, Office/SharePoint, SmarTeam, Google Apps. Some of the docs are management by corp. IT system. In my view you cannot achieve single system approach. Regards, Oleg.

  • You say that you cannot acheive a single system approach. I wonder how true this is relative to product development teams as well? Certainly a Part is released in up to two places, PLM and ERP… What would be interesting to better understand is what happens with all those word and excel files that are created along the development cycle? Do these ever get managed, should they and where?

  • I had not thought about this but one customer I know very well gave up trying to manage the CAD files and thier PLM solution was to only put image files of the drawings into the PLM system and release with this. By the way they are a medical device company so they have many regulations to live up to… What I find interesting is they determined that the best thing to do was mirror the old micro-film based approach with just newer technology. The CAD files are, as you say, managed in folder and soome in Interlink (which is now a problem). Now because of Interlink they are stuck on an old version of Proe and cannot move unless they turn off interlink or upgrade, but they don’t like the options and complexity of the upgrade…

  • Chris, I believe there are lots of approaches. And, yes, people are still lost their files :)… Oleg.