Can we scale PLM down?

Picture 1Originally, PLM was born to provide solution for big enterprise customers. Aerospace, Defense, Automotive… these are original roots of today PLM kings. But, since we are moving forward many companies started to investigate in possibility to take PLM ideas to different domains, industries as well as apply it to be used for smaller customers and not only to industrial behemoths like  aerospace and automotive OEMs. In your comments, I got few requests to raise this topic on blog and discuss, so here we go. I don’t expect to finish this topic in one post, so today I want to talk about fundamental grounds behind topic of PLM for different company sizes. I’d like to put few buckets to make our discussion more structured.

Marketing. Just to make things clear. We live in dynamic world that creates multiple opportunity for product marketing. I believe marketing around PLM is very strong and interesting. One day we discuss it too, but not today. I think customer’s demands are similar if we talk to them about their needs such as product cost, regulation needs and distributed development and manufacturing. PLM marketing is focusing on explaining how PLM can solve these problems, but won’t be the only solution for these problems and needs solving. I raised these issues multiple times before discussing how different product and technologies can be positioned to solve the same (or similar needs).  

Company IT. When I think about PLM of different scales and different organizations, the first thing come to my mind is what IT organization company have. Obviously IT of big enterprise won’t be equivalent of small business IT combined from very few people. So, ability of IT to handle operational and technological issues are crucial to understand what type of PLM technology we need to come with.

Technology. So, we agreed – we need different PLM technologies. In my view, these days we are facing a very significant wave or technology and business/technology combination. Microsoft is coming up to enterprise very actively. Traditional big-IT focused companies like IBM, Oracle and others are trying to establish their strategic position. On opposite side, SaaS and Cloud technologies becomes more mature and attractive for enterprises. I think, companies of different sizes will be deciding also based on technological choice. So, PLM companies need to be prepared to multiple offering or understand niches of technological marketplaces

Company Processes and Organization. When IT abilities and Technological preferences are fundamental things companies will analyze, issue such as company processes are definitely need to be taken into account when you come with PLM-bag to organization. What is good for big companies won’t fit way smaller customers are doing their business. Smaller organization are always will be more agile, connected and open compared to bigger enterprise and therefore, will be focusing on different priorities and needs.  So, don’t develop very complex ECO for the company of 100 people and 5 engineers.

So, what is my conclusion today? Different companies are doing business in different way. There is strong influence of IT, Technologies and Organization processes on the way product development and manufacturing systems need to be established, implemented in supported. I’d be thinking about next discussion with more specific themes and looking forward for your comments.

Best, Oleg.


Share This Post

  • Hi Oleg –

    Great topic. I think yes and I believe that two key areas we will see advance first are corporate IT and technology.
    Corporate IT for SMB’s is capacity constrained so hosted solutions will be something that gets serious consideration IF they see real value. This of course requires advances in technology which are definitely occurring.
    The trick of course is to adapt solutions to the companies’ processes. Wise companies will see the opportunity to refine their processes along the way and eliminate non-value add steps.
    In closing, my thought is that not only will PLM ‘scale-down’ but, PDM will ‘scale-up’. PDM serves an important role and in many companies provides the opportunity to learn and grow.


  • Hi Oleg,
    First of all, let me thank you for starting this topic and I will it gets discussed widely.

    if we think of need of PLM, it started from birth of software used to handle each operation, then it may be engineering dept or inventory management. Then we had 2D drawings on computers. Speed of data generation increased and hence need to product data management. Lets keep this point aside for the moment.
    PLM started as a need to Product Information Management in industries noted above. After its successful implementation to certain extent, everyone realized that its nothing but business management tool and hence can be applied to many industries.
    Now let me come to some other point. Invention of IC Engines and its implementation. The era when it invented and its use today is amazing. Now we have same concept implemented in any type of vehicle which any capacities. Just to give an example. When we think of a volvo truck, we first want to ensure its after sales service etc and ensure that we do not come across any issues. If we face any issue we get support. But a person buying a small 2 wheeler in India does not think same. though the vehicles/scales/usage are different, technology is more or less same. But it evolved from bigger to smaller. In my opinion, PLM need to follow same path. Its a business process and product management tool. It should fit to any scale. And I am sure it will. Only thing is PLM Software Companies need to understand industry requirement correctly and think of right solution.

    I have much more thought on this topic but cannot put all in one go.

  • Joy, thanks for your insight. Do you see PDM scale up to hosted solution? Imaging PDM Server running on Amazon EC2? It will allow amazing potential to grow and learn… what do you think? Regards, Oleg

  • Ashish, quite interesting example of “trucks”, however I hardly can compare PLM to cars. The main difference is that customers of cars and customers of PLM are different. In my view is problematic to compare way people are using trucks and way people are using enterprise software…. don’t you think so? With regards to industry requirements, I think during last 1-2 years we see much more “industry oriented” view on PLM solution and this is very positive. So, I hope it will improve in the future… Best Regards, Oleg

  • Oleg, I agree that customers are different. My persepective is from product point of view for different requirements. MatrixOne and Teamcenter might be a great solutions but they are useless for a small scale business. But this customer also needs to manage his business. Infact, a small scale and affordable PLM for SMBs can lower their cost of operation and business management dramatically and hence it can result in either higher profit margin or overall product cost reduction. My intention in the above post is that technology can go to lowest possible level based on requirement and it is possible.
    If I need some limited features for a SMBs why should I go for high-tech solution? Why not to design a product with opensource technologies?

  • Ashish, Two comments. 1/regarding smaller PLM; Yes, there is a need for smaller solution and multiple vendors are trying to resolve it in different ways. We can analyze it, of course. General trend proposed by big vendors is try to have “scaled” or “one size fit all” solution. But at the same time, I see new coming vendors proposing new solutions for a specific markets, industries and size. 2/ regarding open source. Open source is very interesting trend and I had chance to write about it. You can explore my earlier posts on this. In general Open Source have better acceptance in bigger organization, since these organization have big enough IT to handle it. Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg