In my view, there is a very strong interest from PLM community to something called “Social PLM”. You probably had chance to follow “social PLM discussion” on plmtwine, on Clarity on PLM blog by Jim Brown, Social Product Development blog by PTC or by experimenting with Vuuch design discussion software.
I’d summarize my view on definite advantages in bringing social technologies, tools and methods in PLM as following top three: 1/ability to cover non-formal processes in organization; 2/crowd-sourcing; 3/openness. But, by analyzing these advantages, I came to the conclusion about potential challenges and risk relating to social tools and their implementation in context PLM/product development in organization.
#5 – Selecting the right tools. The choice of social tools is not obvious. If you seek for something that will be ready to use, out of the box, I don’t think you will find any product/tool today. Your choices will be from big environments provided by IT behemoths (i.e. Microsoft, Oracle, IBM) and going down to small experimenters and startup companies.
#4 – Organization alignment with social practices and organizational policies. Second challenge is to take people on board in your organization. Social means “openness” and, unfortunately, the opposite side of openness is IP leak, security and confidentiality problems. So, be prepared…
#3 – Building organization (or even extended) community. As soon as you decided about a tool and got organizational approval, your next challenge will be to build the actual network of people. So, be prepared to intensive community building- you will need to accelerate discussions, coordinate communication and check for the right content coming to community and other social PLM tools.
#2 – Connectivity and Integration with traditional PLM implementation and other Enterprise tools. Your new social PLM baby can be potentially is very disconnected from existing corporate infrastructure and tools. To build this integration and bridges is very important. Don’t overkill yourself, since you won’t be able to resolve all integration problems. Try to achieve functional acceptance when trying to control cost and complexity of integration.
#1 – Getting people to use these tools and systems. As soon as you solved all challenges before, don’t think you are on the road to the bright future. Your next challenge will be to make people go after you. Practically it means, in organization, people are busy. They have a lot of things to do, and they have already lots of other tools. So, you need to win time and screen real-estate for your social PLM tools. In my view, user’s adoption in organization is top challenge for social PLM future.
Despite these challenges, I think we will have change to see some very interesting results from early adopters of social PLM.
As usual, these are my opinion and thoughts, and I’m interested in knowing what experience you had and your thoughts about social PLM.