One of the very important aspects of PLM as enterprise software is the ability to be implemented in the fast and easy way. I think you will agree, that long implementation cycle can put your PLM project into the wastebasket as well as your carrier on hold. I’m observing strong move of PLM companies towards proposing of “best practices” or so called “industry best practices”. Such best practices are normally set of data models, process definitions and other recommendations about how to implement a system in the organization.
The whole approach made me think this can represent the mainstream trend in PLM implementations. On the surface, it sounds as a silver bullet. You are getting “ready-to-use” system with all bells and whistles. What do you need is only run it in your organization.
However, when thought about that more, I got a different way to see it. The significant piece of these best practices is a data modeling schema. Basically, it represents the way system works. On top of these data models, applied different business rules and process definitions. It reminds taxonomies (Wikipedia: Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification) applied to the data you manage. Why do I have a concern in such models? In my view taxonomy-based approach is good when your data is stable, and you have an agreed way to organize it. When applied to manufacturing organization, it means you have an agreed way to handle product data and processes around. However, this is not true in the modern manufacturing organizations. Today’s organizations are dynamic and experience on going change due to economical, business and regulatory activities. How do you think it will work when pre-build best practices will be applied?
Here, I’m coming to the second question. The most important activity when implementing PLM is the ability to make changes and react in a fast manner when you experience changes in your organizational processes. Customers these days are interested in how to make small and lean implementations as well as a move with the short steps. And it sounds like a contradiction with pre-defined templates and best practices. Whatever you are going to apply in the beginning will be changed later.
And my third and final question is about initial implementation. Each organization is sort of unique skills, rules and business processes. How these practices can be mapped to the predefined best practices. Hm… It sounds as another point when changes will be applied.
This is my take. Best practices are like a torpedo. When it comes as a bunch of models, processes and rules, you need to spend organizational time to apply them to the way your company is doing business. This is a first time explosion. Within the time, you’ll need spend more time to change various aspects of predefined pieces. So, this is your next explosion. After few of such explosions, I think, your model will be completely different from the original best practices.
So, what is my conclusion? What should be implementation starting point? I believe best practices are the excellent way to show what your PLM product is capable of doing. However, as implementation practices, it doesn’t work. You need to have a system that can capture your business practices. Once you did it, you can change and optimize. The system need to be flexible enough. The cost of the initial best practices’ application is too high. Instead of that you better invest into a system that can capture your business processes.
Just my thoughts… It will be great if you can share your experience. I hope we’ll have a good conversation.