In the landscape of PLM, collaboration is overused word. You can hear “collaborative” a lot, and you’d be thinking all problems of collaboration are already solved. However, I think, we are only in the beginning of starting to have a real collaborative solution. The most important thing for a collaborative solution is a context. To have a right context is important, otherwise you cannot efficiently collaborate. Think about emails or files. You cannot be sure your co-worker or manager is looking on the same piece of information.
I had chance to read Google Enterprise blog about New Sharing Options in Google Docs. Take a look on the following video.
It made me think about some fundamental things we are missing when creating PLM collaborative solutions.
Unique names for resources
PLM manages different pieces of product data, documents and many other resources. Depending on what is the scope of PLM implementation, the amount of data can vary. What need to be done to collaborate efficiently is to have an ability to provide a unique name for data (or resources) we want to collaborate on. By doing that, we will be able to have a constant context to use for collaboration. The unique resource name can remind you web (URI) — everything on the web has their own unique naming. We can use the same to identify your product data in the organization.
An obvious, but very important addition to unique naming/identification. If there are resources, we need to apply security rules to ensure you have appropriated rights to collaborate on the specific data set. Security functions can be global for the organization or local to facilitate a collaboration need for a specific person who may be outside of the organization.
The third component of a successful collaboration strategy. You need to be able to invite a person and to provide a particular piece of data as a context. If you use unique naming and appropriated security model, you cannot go wrong. Your context will be always well identified and access by multiple people at the same time. You can use various nice options for share such as an ability to transfer, share, ability to redline, edit or just view. You need also to provide information to users who is sharing this context, for the moment.
What is my conclusion? I think, PLM is using word collaboration very intensively. However, there is one thing, many of the collaborative PLM software is missing — unique name of the resources to collaborate on. Unique resource names can solve lots of problems PLM has today. Just my thoughts…