PLM Out-of-the-Box: Misleading or Focusing?

PLM Out-of-the-Box: Misleading or Focusing?

I’ve seen a new splash in the discussion around PLM out-of-the-box during the last couple of weeks. The initial hit was done by Marc Lind of Aras publishing his OOTB PLM: Hit of Miss. The name of the post is doing well from the standpoint of Google’s keyword search and then was followed by multiple comments and additional blogs. One of them, Jos Voskuil’s PLM and Flexibility is a great reading. You can enjoy various opinions about what is more important – “ready to go” functionality or flexibility.

Early PDM/PLM experience

The initial PDMs were heavy customized. It started as a database managing CAD files. Later PDM/PLM explored a possibility to manage more data as well as control more processes in organizations. However, the lesson learned during that time was simple – you cannot replicate PDM/PLM experience in such a way. Too complex and too expensive.

PLM Out-of-the-Box

Following early experience, industry gurus decided to come with so called “best practices” or Out-of-the-box” implementations. It seems to solve few problems in one hit – to provide a starter package as well as simplify implementation. The obvious success of such approach was in a demo time. Marketing did an excellent job rolling out OOTB features and videos. However, the implementation was hard-landing. I heard about multiple replacement of “PLM Limited Editions” with full PLM packages in order to deliver a promise.

The House of Balance

After all years and multiple options, the discussion of Flexible vs. OOTB seems to me an endless. You obviously don’t want to repeat all implementation steps from the beginning every time. So, your PLM system needs to provide some mechanisms ready to use. On the other side, you need to be ready that every customer will introduce some needs that will require you to make a chance. You will hardly achieve your goals if your system won’t support it.

What is my conclusion? The both sides of this conversation are wrong in my view. You cannot go totally out-of-the-box, since you will obviously miss the target or deliver to a very small customer audience. However, extreme flexibility can cause a complexity on the implementation side, which can be good for few big implementations, but obviously won’t be productive for a mainstream. To find a good balance is a right option to go. It seems to me, PLM industry is still looking for this balance. Just my opinion.

Best, Oleg


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  • Max J. Pucher

    PLM Product Lifecycle Management is an innovation process. How could it ever be driven by hardcoded OOTB products or designed by means of orthodox, rigid BPM workflows. But typical Case Management isn’t good enough either as it lacks functionality.

    You mention that GOALS won’t be achieved if the system doesn’t support them. Therefore the system must enable the definition of goals and manage the complete cycle around them.

    A week ago we did a demo for large German insurance and defined their current PLM setup into ACM Adaptive Case Management by focusing on a list of goals and below that on activity checklists. All the signoffs for getting a new insurance product into production were included. The necessary data entities were setup and the content that would become the complete product documentation for auditing was already setup.

    How long did this take? ONE DAY give or take a couple of hours. The reason to use ADAPTIVE processes is the necessary flexiblity enhanced by social collaboration AND the reusability of previously successful goal-oriented activities. The Papyrus Platform provides OOTB through the ACM framework and a set of PLM templates. If you don’t like those you simply define your own and let evolution and people empowerment drive innovation.

    More on:

  • MarcL

    Oleg – Good post. Think the issue isn’t so much OOTB or Flexibility… as Max notes, it’s got to be OOTB and Flexibility. This is one of the issues that I was trying to highlight. The idea that there should be a static/fixed OOTB system (i.e. the Tc Velocity story, etc) is IMHO not realistic or viable for a global company. This combination of highly flexible OOTB solutions is what we believe our advantage is at Aras. Being able to use OOTB and quickly change as needed is really important, don’t you think?


  • Thanks for the moderation – we should be sitting in one room to discuss – perphaps in January ?

    Best regards


  • beyondplm

    Max, thanks for your comment and link to adaptive process. Most of PLM implementations are going much beyond 1 day. This is a reality I’ve seen many times. I’d try to learn from the link you sent me. The biggest spending time is an adaptation of a system to customer needs. Just my view… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Marc, Flexibility and OOTB are orthogonal. Vendors saying that in their marketing materials. The reality check is what mostly interesting. Do you have some use cases to share? Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Jos, sure. I’m looking forward to meeting you in London in January.

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