The Ugly Truth About PLM-ERP Monkey Volleyball

I had the chance to read Jim Brown’s post about SAP achievements in PLM. As usual, when PLM and ERP words come to the interplay, a very good discussion can be generated. And this is what I’ve seen this morning. I enjoyed discussion and very interesting comments. Take a look, first and read that. The discussion became hot and separate post was done by Vuuch Voice this morning -PLM Is The Monkey In The Middle.

These posts made me think about what is the fundamental nature of the discussion about PLM and ERP. I see this discussion as a natural part of the overall system development in the organization. Since early beginning of MRP and MRP-II, systems started to accumulate product data in the electronic form. So, data moved from spreadsheets to databases and Excel  spreadsheets. In parallel, design data started to move from paper to CAD and other design systems. Since then, all engineering and manufacturing systems are managing the very interesting interplay on where is data located and how you move this data from one place to another. Now what means this movement? This is something everybody present as a ‘ business process’. Yes, processes are the blood movement in the organizational body. However, the blood cells are actually pieces of data that processes moves around.

The ugly truth is that everybody wants to own the piece of cheesy product data! ERP, PLM, PDM, CAD… Everybody pretends on the part of the product data, but mostly interested how to control it. Everybody in this volleyball game is trying to catch the ball and steer it to their side. ERP is saying Item Master belongs to me! Every time you want to do something, ask me. CAD and CAD-based PLM pretends to be the best in managing product design, configuration and revisions. ERP vendors are trying to steer Bill of Materials by managing overall ECO process. Social software is trying to steer the ball, by saying let’s organize Facebook of design files. Before that time PDM was trying to organize dashboards of data. In parallel, social product development is trying to put data inside of SharePoint… There is an endless number of examples I can bring…

So, what is my conclusion today? There is nothing new in this enterprise data life, but attempt to control data and accumulate data-tolls from enterprise processes’ toll-road. If you are good in organizing this toll-road, the ride won’t be bumpy and data arrives easy and customers will love it. Some of the tolls are mandatory. Try not to pay for CAD system or accounting, for example… It seems to me PLM road is a bit more bumpy in comparison to the ERP one.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.



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