Best-practices aren’t good enough for PLM?

Picture 19What I want to discuss today is PLM Best Practices. Frankly saying, my thoughts about the topic were accelerated by COFES 2010 theme publishing “COFES 2010: Best-practices aren’t good enough“. So, it brings me to think in loud about what we call “best practices”. I think, you can hear a lot about this in PLM community. Best practices became very popular and had promoted as the way to have an efficient PLM implementation. You can find it in different “envelops” and combinations – best practices, industry solution, express offering etc. But speaking with different people in our community, I identified two main trends, if you will, in everything related to best practices:

1. Support best practices coming from PLM vendors.
This community of people truly believes, PLM providers, by supporting best practices will release packages that will be ready to use and will be adopted very quickly by organization. For the small organizations, it will help to reduce the cost of implementation. For the big organizations, it will provide a framework to change way organization work. Customers don’t need to spend time to define processes, models, implementation specific stuff. Just install and go…

2. Support flexible configurable PLM software. This community is actually very opposite to previous one. From the standpoint of these people, PLM vendors have no sufficient knowledge to provide pre-packaged configurations. In addition, they believe in uniqueness of product development processes in the organization (even in the same industry). In their view, PLM software vendors need to focus on producing highly configurable, flexible software that can be customized, configured, adapted for specific customer needs.

So, what is my conclusion for today? I don’t see any of these approaches as a “silver bullet”. And I definitely see advantages of both directions. I’d be interested in open discussion with you to share and discuss your experience, vision and future thoughts.

Best, Oleg


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  • Alec Gil

    I have always wondered about who puts a stamp of approval on a practice or a process as being the “best”. I understand that the technology suppliers claim to “work” with a number of clients and ostensibly zero in on processes that can be neatly packaged and sold as best practices. I have always found this a copout, an excuse of sorts to make the software that pigeonholes the customers into a particular process with little room to make it better or more robust. It is simply infinitely easier to make the software that claims to incorporate pre-packaged “best” practices than to make something that is flexible enough to enable the customers design new business improving processes or even to just capture truly unique existing ones.

    Now, I’m not opposed to having a set of best practices available “off-the-shelf”. I am sure some will find them useful and reasonably complete. What I am saying is that the technology suppliers should START, but not STOP with the pre-packaged solutions. For any company to truly differentiate itself – some would say to simply stay in business – it has to continuously improve its processes and that can only happen if the enabling technologies (PLM is certainly one of them) are flexible enough to support this continuous improvement.

  • Alec, thanks for your insight! I agree, a good combination of best practices and flexibility is the key. However, learning from your note, the sufficient criteria will be an ability to continuously improve whatever you started as “best practices” with your specific organization needs.
    Best, Oleg

  • Hervé Menga

    I think that best practices are always good (if they are best, there are good, no ?).
    Question is “best” for whom ?
    For the vendors, best practices means “the rules we have implemented in our sofware”. Where come theses rules from? Is it a try to give access to “technologically possible things” that satisfy the demand (not obsviously the need) of their main customers so they can pay for maintenance? or to satisfy the “average” demand of a targeted group of potential customers so they can become customers and join the first group? maybe both…
    A practice is usually “practical”, no?, it means that a practice is something you perform within a context, so a practice depends on the practitioner (its needs, its situation, its objectives, himself…).
    May be “best practices” should be renamed “best rules”, if these are collection of things that you must keep in mind to perform your job after adapting them to your context – a kind of “guide” or “reminders”.
    Or they may be renamed “best stories”, if they are testimonies of what “worked” or did not work for a given situation fo a given people. I would prefer this, i appreciate to read good (or best, why not) practices in this blog.

  • Herve, Thanks for your comment! I like your definition of rules. But marketing calls them “practices”. Normally company is trying to organize whatever they have implemented based on customer’s need and implementation – best practices. In my view, best practices are good since they can show what product can do. But this is not necessarily the way for customer to work with system (s). Best, Oleg

  • The term “best” in my opinion is a subjective and antequated term open to an abundance of interpetive factors such as experience, needs and understtanding of enterprise users and non-users alike, etc.

    I typically use “preferred” instead of “best.” This is especially relevant when working within an “immature” yet “experienced” corporate environemnt.

    Especially one that is in a growth transition position in the process of “leaning” itself out from the top down. (From my experience this unfortunately is the wrong direction to attack the lean problem from.)

    Many questions need to be addressed in developing the Preferred Practices for any element of the enterprise including PLM such as what do we do, why do we do it, does everyone understand why we do it and if so can we compile it and write it down succinctly and coherently so non-users or new users can understand?

    After the compilation of the practices and community adoption and usage then the continuous improvement process can begin to take place.

    It’s obviously more complicated than this simple post. When a PLM manufacturer touts their best practices, the entire user community needs to understand that these are this developers opinions about their product but that their entire corporate culture needs to use these as “guidelines” to establish their own Preferred Practices that will be in constant evolution. Hopefully just like all of us. 🙂

  • Babely, Thanks for comment! I liked “preferred” practices. My obvious and stupid question, how to develop preferred best practices without going into 2 years organizational process? This is a challenge, in my view. Best, Oleg