How to Manage ECO without paying $1’500 per seat?

I had chance to read Buzz message thread about ECO management, initiated by Josh Mings. I found it worth reading. One of the questions stick in my memory, and I decided to put it in the title of my blog post today. How to manage ECO without paying $1’500 per seat? I think the point was made in a very clear way. Changes is a real life of engineering and manufacturing company. However, cost/value seems to be problematic for solutions we have available today.

Please, take a look on Microshare definition in Wikipedia.

To microshare is to offer access to a select piece or set of digital content by a specific group of invited or otherwise privileged guests in a controlled and secure manner. In contrast to public sharing of content, microsharing enables a more private or intimate level of making content accessible by others. Microsharing access can be secured via uniquely encoded urls or by password protection.

Let me take an example from Josh’s stream and translate it in microshare-like ECO-message-burst.

–>ECR#123 is submitted from customer services @servicecounter;
–>@servicecounter Looking on this ECR#123… Seems like a problem. Hold shipments;
–>Moved ECR#123 to engineering @engineeringhero;
–>@engineeringhero ECR#123 requires analyzes by #allengineeringgeeks;
–>@topgeek solution for ECR#123 is to disable radio switch off function;
–>@servicecounter hold shipments until ECR#123 fixed by @engineeringhero;

I hope you should get my hint now. In the end, I see collaboration as a message sharing in the organization. In before-computers-era, papers functioned as a message transferring mechanism. Then we invented databases, PDM, PLM…

PLM View on ECO Management
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is a database and SQL, you just need to translate all your problems in database and SQL forms. This is the way we have been working for the last 15-20 years. If we got a problem, we need to create a model, keep data in a database, retrieve it, save it, manipulate and, in the end, yikes! – we have a solution. What is the problem here? This is a long way that creates lots of complexities – manage a database, agree about model, implement, agree about how maintain changes, create a user interface, teach everybody how to use it and, finally also to fix bugs. This is a way we are doing PDM/PLM today.

Should Be A Simpler Way?
What if? What if we invented enough technologies that can help us to the same job in a much simpler way? If all we are interesting is related to a particular ECO#123, I can keep reference to these messages without inventing SQL Table Grandiose? I can just record it and want to be alerted, when something happens to this particular ECO. If you are doing something related to this ECO, you can put a message into microshare storage about that. Somebody, who is responsible for shipment need to see if there are any of messages or info that prevents shipment. You can subscribe to messages via something like RSS and get a single channel of messages coming to your mobile device. I know it sounds crazy to any straightforward database and/or IT guy. But, in my view it may work and simplify the life of many engineers in the organization. The infrastructure for microshare and RSS is much cheaper, compared to the development of data models, tables, UIs etc.

What is my conclusion? I think, we came to the point where everybody in the organization is looking how to work differently. It is not only about how much to spend on the particular software package. It is about how to organize work better and simpler. I’m taking “microshare” as an option. Yesterday, on Enterprise 2.0 conference, one of the presenters asked a question – How many user guides did you read in the last year? The answer was ZERO. This is a time to think about a simpler way. I want to credit Evan Yares blog for the picture, I put in this blog post. I think it is very valid these days.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg



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  • VS Srividhya

    Maybe a series of SOA enabled sites triggered thru’ twitter containing the details of the BOM/order?

  • Oleg,

    Are you trying to put us out of business? Actually as you point out there are a number of ways to address Change Management that don’t require a PLM per say. However, I think the process that PLM enforces and the overall infrastrucutre of the system with its roles and privledges and data vault et cetera make it the most optimal way to deal with change.

    Whether it should cost $1500 per seat is another question. I think most vendor’s current way of licensing software is obsolete based on today’s usage models but that is another blog altogether.

    I don’t think that just because it is possible to communicate outside of the context of a traditional PLM that you can easily make a case for some sort of ad hoc system. You need the structure PLM affords to successfully manage change over the long term.

    You also want the structure to create reports and monitor progress which would be difficult to do without the back-end structure of traditional PLM.

  • Stephen,

    I have no intention to put PLM out of business. I’m just trying to put some lights in the place that called Product Lifecycle Management. I’m mostly technical in this post… My point is that existing technological stack that PLM is using today is 20 years old and this is a time to take a look outside, take a fresh air and see if we can do something differently. noSQL space is growing. Alternatives to current systems’ architectures become more mature. The next PLM disruption can come from the outside player.

    The title of the blog, specifically related to 1500 is part of so called – B.L.O.G. (Better Listening On Google). This is part of “Inbound Marketing” strategy.
    Best, Oleg

  • VS, thanks for commenting. Yes, SOA as a framework can work. However, it sounds too generic… Best, Oleg

  • jazzi

    be careful of “SOA”! do you remember “End to End”, “On-Demand” or “cloud computation”? it might not be a lie, but might to be a dream.

  • Sorry Oleg,
    I was attempting humor. I guess that’s why we need emoticons. I think the key to your post is the word “architecture” and what that means. I think the key is that for a disruptive technology to work into PLM they will need substantial architecture to duplicate all of the roles traditional SQL based solutions serve.

  • Jazzi, You are right, SOA is a dangerous term. We all remember – COM, DCOM, CORBA, .NET… SOA. There are few more exciting buzzwords… Best, Oleg

  • Stephen, Thank you for your comment! Yes, humor… Indeed, architecture is not a bad word. What is the cheaper and more efficient architecture for ECO solution? This is not a bad question… What do you think is the right answer ;)? Best, Oleg

  • So what you are saying is…

    – We don’t link ECO back into the underlying product data, so the change review has no context?
    – We execute a change process with no viewables, markups, supporting documentation, etc.
    – We have no formal signatures or signoffs
    – We have no real security
    – We have no trusted audit trail tied back to revisions
    – We don’t develop a database that we can query to find things like change code reasons
    – We don’t integrate an ECO into ERP for execution

    Hmmmm, that is progress?

    I am clearly missing your point. Great technology, but ECO seems like the wrong place to apply it. There is a reason that PLM spent a lot of time working on ECO capabilities. They are complex, they are important, and getting them wrong costs both time and money.

    Sometimes structure is good.

    My 2 cents,

  • yml

    Hello Oleg,
    Interesting perspective, I was surprised how similar the ECO-MESSAGE-BURST is to a twitter feed. Let say that in each message you add a ticket number hashtag.
    I have recently implemented for discovery channel an unusual way of using twitter (see Note that the hash tag is predefined. You could replace this hashtag by a context related one.

    I think that this kind of redefinition of fundamental PLM concept will be the key to go from a $1500 per seat to a $10.

  • Paul


    the $1,500 issue is a good one – I take at as ‘why do I need PLM to participate in an ECO?’. If we agree that the scope of PLM is expanding to encompass the whole organisation, the notion of paying for a full price PLM license just for an occasional user to comment on an ECO is obviously flawed. In this case, we need a way of enabling commenting without incurring that cost – potentially outside of the PLM ‘solution’ or by having a different mechanism altogether.

    PLM license costs (ignoring the likes of ARAS for now) are prohibiting the take up outside of engineering – who are used to paying $10,000 per seat for a CAD tool.


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  • Jim, Thank you for this comment! I’m sorry Jim, I never said all what you mentioned in your comment. My point was how to make a communication around ECOing easier and transparent and, at the same time, to leverage some technological advantages industry developed for the last 10 years in the Web 2.0 field. I expanded some of my thoughts in today’s post – My main point is that need to support all characteristics you mentioned cannot explain why software need to be complex. One of the technological proposals, I made is to re-think end-to-end usage of SQL databases. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Yann, Thank you for your comment and link. Just to let you know, this link contains a typo, so you need to copy/paste it from your comment to open. I like your discovery channel concept. Yes, ECO-MESSAGE-BURST is very similar to a twitter feed. In my view, these shortmessaging techniques will continue to be very popular. Cheaper technologies will make PLM easy and price lower in the end… Best, Oleg

  • Paul, Yes, I agree. The notion of end-user-price in your example and in many other examples that show PLM expanding in an organization, doesn’t make sense. If/When technologies used to spread ECO related message to somebody to comment, the PLM adoption will be improved significantly. Today it is very odd. In my example, the best technology to do it is emailing. However, if initial ECO-related data is in PLM database, $1’500 need to be spent to extract it from database and send to people via email. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Oleg, this is a brilliant discussion. About putting us out of business, you must ask what we are in the business of? Selling software licenses? If so, you are putting yourself out of business. I have always thought of myself as a value-add business, a service that is much needed no matter what the software cost is. And moving away from a per-seat cost to a per-user cost is the wrong way to go – talk about backwards! PLM software providers must be creative – it takes work, it takes sometimes swimming a different direction than the current pulls you. But the rewards are your own fishing grounds. Look, software developers need to be fairly compensated in order to spur innovation and development. Whether they are compensated in a license model, or a per service model (say customization of an open source package), or some other model – money must be paid. But, customers must also pay a fair amount, and those innovators who devise ways to make payment more fair will be those who come out on top. Look at Apple, they created a whole new way of selling digital music – $1 per song instead of $10-$15 per album, oh, and now hook a phone up and you can sell apps via the same mechanism. Innovative, and it has made them billions.

  • Jay, Thanks for your comment! What I like, specially, is your Apple-related example. The granularity will be one of the future words. And I strongly believe, this is something that can help PLM too. Some of my thoughts about that is here – Best, Oleg

  • Clearly we do not need PLM to process ECOs. We have done it for years without PLM and people still process them on paper and in things like excel. The question is very valid but rather than looking at cost how about looking at the most effective way to process an ECO. Of course it would be great if the ECO did not exist and your team and product were right first time… Well wouldn’t that be nice…

    The question is how best to allow users to make the decissions related to the ECO and capture what the enterprise needs (these are two different things). If a PLM system is in place I expect it is not used to manage / work the ECO. I expect at best it is used to record the finial result of the ECO and email and excel are used to process it.

  • Chris, I think, companies that implemented PLM are using it to process ECO. I had chance to see very successful implementations of ECO management where information traced between multiple systems. PLM clearly plays a significant role to make it happen. It requires people effort and big organizational investment. So, I tend to disagree on one side. However, many manufacturers are not ready for this, or they have no such amount of resources to invest into solving their ECO handling problems. These companies are using Excel, email, papers… So, this they don’t need PLM (as we have it today). I think, they will be interested to how handle ECO cheaper and in a more efficient way. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

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