PLM Migration and Product Data Rock-n-Roll

PLM Migration and Product Data Rock-n-Roll

I read The PLM State: PLM Migration, No Data Left Behind on Zero-Wait State blog. Read it and make your opinion. Stephen Porter is discussing a very important topic of data migration. I found it interesting. This is my favorite passage:

…leaving data behind is not necessarily a bad thing since it can corrupt and handicap your new system. Spending time up front to fully assess your information is time well spent. Segmenting data and moving it over in portions is a viable strategy for facilitating cleanup and assessment. Using the target PLM system as a filter and cleaning mechanism can be an effective way to manage migration.

The conclusion made by Stephen made me think about product data value and data migration problems.

Data Value

Most of the companies I have seen for the last year are dying in the ocean of product data. Company creates data every day. It comes out of the company design and engineering, manufacturing, support, sales, marketing and service. In my view,  data is one of the biggest company assets. Companies are accumulating data for a very long period of time. In some industries, legacy data retention is part of the regulation rules and requirements.

Product Data Rock-n-Roll

According to the latest survey of Cyon Research, the majority of customers are dissatisfied with PDM software. Companies are looking how to improve the way to manage product data and thinking about how to optimize and consolidate PDM packages. Here is the quote from Cyon Research 2010 Survey of Engineering Software User:

Among the major classes of software, customers are most dissatisfied with their PDM systems. More than 25% of SMBs and 30% of large firms were either in the process of switching PDM systems or had just switched within the past two years, about twice the rate of change for CAD or CAE systems. 45% of large firms are going through or have just gone through a consolidation of PDM software.

The consolidation of PDM software will obviously raise the question of data migration and potential losses of companies due to their inability to move data from a previous system. Another practice is to continue using an old system in parallel with a new system to access data. The last option often becomes a much more cost effective for a company compared to the investment needed to migrate data between systems. The result is a lot of legacy data sources and systems. In the past, I wrote about different aspects of legacy data handling. The importance of legacy data for a company is absolute and very undervalued in modern PDM/PLM systems.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of product data management systems created a situation when migration of data between systems can cause a significant loss of value. Competition between software vendors in this domain adds additional difficulties. In my view, to clean the historical data record, as a result of multiple system migrations, is a very bad idea. To have an ability to migrate product data from one system to another can be a significant product differentiation factor. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Jens Krueger

    Hi Oleg,
    I agree that product data is the main asset of the company. Hardware, operating systems, CAD systems and PLM systems will change over 30 or 50 years – but the product data needs to be maintained. And I wouldn’t count on the system vendors to provide data migration capabilities as a differentiator. I think it’s up to the PLM architects in the companies to know their data model, to drive for neutral, open standards when storing files and to constantly monitor the quality of product data repository.
    Best regards,

  • Oleg, we’ve assisted many companies in migrating their legacy PLM data. These clients often adopted a PLM back when good solutions for small/mid-sized companies didn’t exist. They had to accept a high level of complexity (and cost) if they wanted any PLM solution at all. And, as you mention, the complexity of these large systems makes data migration more difficult and time-consuming.

    Although not as popular as a complete migration, some of our clients continue to operate their old product data management system in parallel with their new PDXpert system. I agree with you that there can be substantial advantages to having clean data and workflows, with the idea that you import only currently active items — or even start completely fresh, if you’re lucky enough to be starting a clean-page project with little overlap with earlier products.

    Obviously, this approach is far more reasonable if the legacy PLM system is fully licensed and the data is on-site. If the old system is subscription-based, it’s often economically unattractive to keep your old data running in parallel. One advantage of our on-site subscription license is that it can be converted into a perpetual license, which is usually not possible with an SaaS PLM.

  • Abhijit Patil

    The problem with current PLM systems is they don’t suggest data re-usability until and unless requested.
    If company develops this intelligence of their own business nature, then I think we don’t have to migrate data all the time, it can be migrated on demand then.

  • beyondplm

    Jens, I agree, in a big company the only way to follow all data representations is to put on the shoulders of PLM architect. However, systems become bigger and even smaller companies are starting to experience data loss damage… just my view. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Ed, thanks for commenting! I think, the situation when a legacy system is not on-site is very-very rare. In most cases, it is legacy data in excels, databases, etc. The situation when customer leave data outside of a new system happens because of cost and complexity. Even if you just started your PLM journey, you should have a legacy system, files, etc. in your company… Just my thought. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Abhijit, thanks for commenting! Yes, you are right. Most of vendors are not suggesting data-reusability. This is not in the focus. Openness is a problem in PLM and in enterprise data, in general. Just my view… Best, Oleg

  • Balu

    Dear Oleg:
    Interesting discussion. In my opinion, the decision to switch from one PLM to another should take into account the Data Migration complexity associated cost. Having two or more PLM systems running in parallel for long is messy and results in multiple source of data and challenges to keep them in Sync and appropriately govern them. Hence the strategy for implementing a new PLM solution should include in it a sound Data Migration Strategy.

  • beyondplm

    Balu, thank you for your comment! I agree with you, the data migration strategy is the right thing to do. However, on a contrary, there are lots of situations when companies having multiple data management systems to implement PLM strategy. PLM activities span on more than one domain – engineering, manufacturing, etc. So, it makes multiple system existence almost inevitable.

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