PLM and A Single Point Of Disagreement

When you talk to a sales person from one of the PLM companies, you for sure will be exposed to a “Single Point of Truth” vision. On the surface, you can see it as a very powerful message. What can be wrong with having a single point of truth on all design, requirements, engineering bills, manufacturing plans, support materials and customer calls? Sound a great opportunity finally to organize all you have related to your product development. However, is it really true?

View of the World from 9th Avenue

There is a legendary New Yorker magazine cover by Saul Steinberg called “View of the World from 9th Avenue.”It comprises a “map” of the world from a “New Yorker’s” point of view. Looking west from 9th Avenue in Manhattan is the Hudson River. Beyond that is  a flat view of the rest of United States. Then you see the Pacific, Japan, China and Russia. If you think about manufacturing and product development, you can find a very similar picture, depends on who is the person you are talking to. My conclusion is there is NO single point of truth. Everybody sees the problem or product data differently.

Single Point Of Truth Process

So, what happens when PLM implementation comes to the company? In the nutshell, every PLM implementation is trying to create a single point of truth for the organization. It means to go all the way from a data mess to the agreement about how to manage product data in the organization. The most typical process is when a company is taking PLM vendor’s blueprint of a data management schema and starting to customize it. This is a main reason why the process of PLM implementation is long and painful. You need to have different people in the organization to agree about data management principles. This is a very painful process. People in company departments have different goals and priorities. This is similar to New Yorker’s view from 9th avenue. There are multiple PLM methodology to deal with this called “Role-based views”, but technologically they based on the assumption to have a single model of everything.

The New Goal: Single Point Of Disagreement?

One of the possible ways to start doing PLM differently is to stop applying this painful “agree on a single model” process. People need to have a way to work in the world where their views are different, but their views can be synchronized and integrated. This is a not trivial task. It seems to me as a more appropriated way to solve this problem in comparison to what we have today. What need to be done is to find what are differences between people view on data in the organization. It can help to create an integrated product development data landscape.

What is my conclusion? To create an integrated and balanced way to manage product development is not a simple task. PLM is missing this point and assumed the actually data model integration will be created during PLM implementation and will be driven by customers. I can see it as a mistake that makes an implementation process lengthy and implementation costly. To resolve this problem will help to bring a desired simplification into PLM world. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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