3 Steps To Simplify PLM Selection Process

3 Steps To Simplify PLM Selection Process

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…

Best, Oleg


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  • Jonathan_Scott

    Oleg, I think you make some good points. Particularly in the area of remembering that PLM systems are tools and that PLM is about processes (tools just support the process – hopefully).

    I am not sure that I agree with your advice to minimize change. In my opinion, the goal should be to manage change. Without change though, there cannot be improvement. In my experience, the best (most successful) PLM projects have been those where companies changed the way that they worked based on the availability of new tools to support processes that they once thought were impossible. This required a lot of change, but it was worth it to their business in the end. We might be saying similar things (you don’t seem to advocate that change can be avoided), but I think it is more important to manage how the change happens within the organization than to try to minimize the amount of change that takes place.

    As always, you have good thoughts to discuss.

  • beyondplm

    Jonathan, Thanks for your insight! The question of change is a tricky one, in my view. The main point – this is like surgery. It can help you, but it also can kill you. So, the balance is what important. Therefore, I said – minimize change. Maybe after your comment, I’d say – minimize as much as possible. Best, Oleg

  • Oleg, I agree completely your article. Thank you.

  • mlavery

    Oleg, your recommendations for shopping for tools and measuring each step are sound advice for those looking for a PLM provider.

    I’d like to share additional tips we’ve compiled to help those who are considering a PLM software system or are ready to move forward with a PLM implementation. Full disclosure, these tips have been put together by Arena Solutions, which provides on-demand bill of materials (BOM) and change management software. However, the tips can be helpful with the implementation of any PLM system. And many of them can also be used to help companies better understand and improve their existing processes, even if they’re not considering a PLM system right now. In summary, the six tips are: 1. Establish objectives & goals for your PLM strategy, 2. Review your processes, 3. Review your data, 4. Obtain organizational & executive buy-in, 5. Work from a project plan & assign a project lead, 6. Train people on the new processes early. More details can be found here: http://www.arenasolutions.com/plm-implementation.html

  • beyondplm

    lulian, you are welcome!

  • beyondplm

    Michelle, thank you for sharing your experience at Arena with readers of Beyond PLM blog. Can you elaborate about (3). For me, it sounds as something very important. PLM vendors usually missing the point of existing data in the organization. Here are my thoughts on this – http://beyondplm.com/2010/07/26/plm-and-legacy-data/. Best, Oleg

  • mlavery

    Hi Oleg,

    Thanks for your response. To elaborate a bit more on Tip #3 (Review data) I’ll break it down into two parts. First, an organization should decide what data to move into the PLM system. Second, it should do some data housekeeping–clean the data and make sure it’s accurate.

    In the first step, decide what data is going to move into the new system and where and how legacy data will be stored. Draw a line in the sand and agree that from that point forward, only the data that gets moved can be changed.

    Next, get the house in order before the move. If there’s messy or inaccurate data (i.e. the same manufacturer being listed differently–for instance, “TI” vs. “T.I.” vs. “Texas Instruments”–across different BOMs) there will likely be problems in both the short and longer term. For example, a company may end up with duplicate parts in the PLM system, which becomes even more confusing if the PLM tool is connected to an ERP system down the road.

    Companies can do this data review themselves. They’ll also find that some vendors (including Arena) have data cleansing tools that can help identify and correct many common issues.

    Either way, when there’s organizational agreement on the new starting point for the PLM data and when that data is clean and accurate, the company will have greater confidence in the new processes and tool. In our experience, when the PLM implementation goes smoothly, there’s better use and adoption of the tool, and companies can make their product development processes run more efficiently.

    I hope that answers your question. Please let me know if you’d like me to elaborate further.


  • beyondplm

    Michelle, thanks for your clarifications! Data cleansing process is important. I agree, data is messy in organizations. However, this process can be costly and very time consuming… Best, Oleg