Can We Improve Usability of PLM Software?

First of all, I’m sorry about such a topic. Yes, Usability! I think we have been talking about usability for last 20 or maybe even more years. Why this is very important today? In my view, we are going to achieve an interesting point of intersection between consumer software and enterprise software. From my standpoint, there are few consumer-oriented or general enterprise software are getting very close to some of the functional capabilities provided by PDM/PLM providers.

1. Management and sharing on documents
2. Messages and Flow
3. Content collaboration

Few interesting blog posts got to my attentions related to the topic of usability in enterprise software. One is Enterprise Software Can NoLonger Remain Unusable. What was very cool is to see a fresh user experience of IFS- nice, and I’d say iPhone like.

One more observation came out of the following post by Scott Monty. I found the following comparison between Apple, Google and Enterprise Software pretty smart and make sense. I’d say PLM (and not only PLM) vendors need to think about that seriously.


I will continue with  more posts related to usability. But, what is my conclusion for today? Despite the fact, I see a very significant level of improvement in specific product in the market and some very nice and fresh UIs, on the broad range, change is demanded.

What do you think?
Best, Oleg


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  • Nawal

    Critical difference in Apple/Google against Enterprise Apps is that former are targeted towards consumer and later are targeted towards Enterprise.

    In case of consumer, there is no one specific consumer or a group that has an input. A company simply offers a product to the market based on its research and market collectively chooses winners and losers.

    For enterprise apps, that is not the case. During sales engagement, an enterprise would like to see a specific functionality. Vendor will have to add the functionality to product to win the deal. This keeps on repeating. In short, it is like each of Apple/Google costumers wanting their specific functionality.

    Before you know, the enterprise apps have got a very complex set of functionality. This will always make it harder for Usability to be better till the functionality matures.

    In my opinion, can the Usability of enterprise Apps become better? Absolutely. But, comparison to Apple/Google is not appropriate. We will be never like them.

  • Nawal, you are right. Way today enterprise software becomes complex is that “market research” in many cases replaced by “first customers requirements”. After, it is going in cycles and becomes even more complicated. The agreement between vendor and big customers becomes much stronger compared to demand to usability. If you are coming to SMB space, situation is significantly different. Connection vendor-customer is not as strong and vendor have to listen to demand and not to a few customer requirements. Best, Oleg

  • Loic

    Hi Oleg,

    I find the example of google and apple particularly appropriated! Of course, no comparaison possible, but it makes me smile, and think weather it was so different. Actually, I think

    I have the fealing that companies try to handle the complexity of their work with ever complexer processes, and complexer applications. Now, we reach PLM applications that nobody can really understand as a whole.

    The first try in order to strike the complexity should, I think, to simplify things, make everything more usable for most of people. Let’s me remind that the applications are there to facilitate and automate low level work and should be design for people.

    Simple is sophisticated, and useability should be simple..

  • Oleg,

    I believe usability, complexity and maturity are not so simply interrelated. Can’t make a complete analysis:) right now but here are couple remarks.

    1. A whatever functional heap can be organized very differently: SMART or silly – thus with a very different usability. In particular, every system with a given functionality, can be re-organized into another one – with an improved usability.

    2. If, with a given functionality, you have difficulties to implement high usability, try to ENRICH current functionality to provide more logical validity and transparency of its elements and structure of notions.

    3. An actually mature system must be built from a reasonably selected notions, relations, and functions – hence its competent implementation must provide a good enough usability.


  • Excuse my misprint, should be:
    1. A whatever functional heap can be organized very differently: SMART or silly…

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  • Loic, Thanks for your comment! Yes, we need to be inspired by Google/Apple even if this is cannot be replicated as is. But their approach shows a very different view on what usability is and how to target it. Best, Oleg

  • David, Thanks for your view and comments! I think one possible way is that you proposed – to analyze how to improve mature systems. BTW, this is called “second movers innovation”. best, Oleg

  • Vladislav

    Oleg, why not make google-like search for ENOVIA Smarteam V5 or ENOVIA V6?

    I think it’s not difficult to create (considering built-in search capabilities of Windows Vista or Windows7). Mmm? Maybe start making by myself…:)

  • Vladislav, we made such integration in V6. ENOVIA V6 is bundled with Autonomy IDOL platform (Enterprise Search), so you can search like in Google and get your result laundry list. Best, Oleg