I was reading Jos Voskuil’s PLM Selection: Don’t do this on his virtualdutchman blog. Jos made me think again about few mistakes people made when trying to apply Product Lifecycle Methods in a holistic way. I’ve seen similar situations in the past – companies managed an extremely long process of requirement gathering, tools evaluation, comparison and decision making. Nevertheless, I’ve seen other examples too. Based on the comparison of these situations, I wanted to come with my ideas about what people in a company can do to simplify the PLM selection process. So, I’d like to introduce the following 3 steps every personal in change of PLM implementation should take.
Step 1: Minimize Change
Change is always a big hassle and trouble. Even if you see your company product development and business processes are sub-optimal, it is not a simple thing to start changes. PLM systems introducing a kind of top down approach to change your company processes. Therefore, you need to think how to apply this weapon in your company. Think more about people and how they will be able to digest all changes, rather than how to optimize all product development processes in one single shot.
Step 2: Look for tools – not for Silver Bullet
I can see a big discussion about what means PLM – business strategy or software. In my view, PLM is a product development business strategy. However, you need to have a balanced view, when you are shopping for tools (yes, what PLM vendor is selling you is not business strategy, but tools). So, analyze your need and shop for tools wisely. Opposite to that, the only strategy is to buy everything from a single vendor. My belief is that one size doesn’t fit all. So, your company product development processes are somewhat unique and require a kind of tuning.
Step 3: Measure Results
When/if you decide to change your product development processes by introducing modern PLM tools, you need to think how to measure the results. It will be good for you as a leader of PLM implementation and the most importantly, for the company. Since you don’t plan to change everything one day, you will need to measure what were your expectations before changes of a product development process and after that change was implemented. This is a good practice, and you will be able to repeat it for next steps.
What is my conclusion? The complexity of decision caused by introducing improvements in product development processes can be very significant. To think about leapfrogging is probably not the best strategy when you try to apply it to existing company product development processes. My recommendation is as following – think about process and change, shop for tools, measure every step. However, remember, one size doesn’t fit all. You decide. Just my thoughts…