I’d like to continue the topic I started yesterday in my post “PLM vs. ERP: Demand for Business Process”. Even from the small amount of comments I’ve got from yesterday, my impression is that there is no agreed position about how PLM and ERP related to business processes and what are their roles in the establishment of organization business processes. I think, there is a significant consensus with regards to ERP and Business Processes. At the same time, I think a role of PLM in a business process is not as agreed.
My topic today is about “Multi-domain” processes. I don’t think this term is widely used and agree, but I think, it reflects quite well a company situation. As a background, from my view, there are several organizational and business trends.
1. Business becomes more connected. In the today business situation, number of connections, communication and dependencies inside of organization are growing exponentially. Business becomes much leaner, agile and this is required to work more efficiently and, therefore, need of connections becomes obvious.
2. Organization activity needs to be optimized independent on boundaries of business systems. Companies accumulated huge amount of separate systems and operate them for the particular needs in the specific situations, scenarios and needs. These applications and systems were built in different time and almost always are not connected.
3. Process-oriented systems can provide a solution by connect people from various domains. Growing trend in understanding how business process systems and technologies can help to streamline business and support overall corporate operation is growing. We had chance to see signs of growing BPM even during a current turbulent time.
So, I think to establish cross domain business processes can be very beneficial for an organization. However, I see multiple problems that prevent business from do so.
1. Application boundaries. Most of the enterprise applications we have today were developed with a specific business domain in mind. Historically, application focused and improved their functionality and experience in the specific domain. Issues related to communication of application with external systems were considered as complex and in most cases companies were investing in consulting and professional services to establish cross-boundary work and integration.
2. Business silos. This is an organizational problem. Business units, departments in many cases are separate and operate independently or in very loose control mode. To establish horizontal business relationships in an organization is another challenge.
3. Multiple systems. This is one of the most serious problems, in my view. Historically, company implemented lots of systems they are using for business needs. To connect this system zoo in something that can work together is very difficult. There are some positive movements related to SOA technologies we can see during last few years, but situation remained very complex.
So, what is a special role of PLM? I see in cross-domain business processes. Product Lifecycle Management, by nature is a discipline that creates a large amount of connection between different aspects of product development in an organization. Today, to establish and maintain these connections and interops is one of the most complicated business and technological problem in PLM. If PLM will be able to invest and/or cooperate with process management technologies and products, it will create a process-level foundation for enterprise system connections around product development. From the technological standpoint, I think, PLM needs to invest in processes technologies and openness to make cross-domain processes happen.
How do you see business process support related to product development organized in your company? Do you think, such PLM approach can improve your current situation with process development and will make your organization leaner?