PLM Integration Failures

PLM Integration Failures

There is one topic that always raises lots of controversy, in my view. I’m talking about integrations or even more specifically about PLM-oriented integration. I want to point on the following two articles I posted previously about PLM integrations:

PLM Integration Gotchas
PLM and Enterprise Integraton Game

I read Reasons Why PLM Integration Fails?” article on the To-Increase Blog. To-Increase is a company from Netherlands specialized in the Microsoft ERP products (Dynamics AX, NAV) and product configuration software e-Con. Read the article and make your opinion. The author is making point of various difficulties related to PLM integrations. Here is my favorite passage from this article:

A fundamental risk within any manufacturing firm, especially a firm with global operations, is the risk of information becoming siloed within individual teams.  For example, if information concerning a flaw in the development of a product is available only to the engineering team, and kept from marketing, there exists the risk of gearing up product launch tasks too quickly – resulting in wheel spinning at best, and a significant loss in resources at worst.

In much the same way, if a PLM system is implemented – but not integrated with all other systems related to manufacturing processes (think Enterprise Resource Planning systems, think Manufacturing Execution Systems) the risk exists for information to be siloed in one system.

PLM Integration and Competition

The focus on PLM-ERP integration is interesting. These are two systems that very often are trying to establish a dominance in a culture of manufacturing organization. Are you PLM or ERP driven? What system “owns” Part or Bill of Material information? Who is authoring BOM? I heard such statements many times when talked to customers during implementations. The integration point is often becoming a competitive advantage. I believe for To-Increase, integration with other products is a significant competitive advantage. Manufacturing companies would be thinking twice before deciding what system will drive product development processes.

Partners and Integration Complexity

Integration is not a simple task. You need to have enough technological and process knowledge as well as technical skills to make it work. In addition, you can rarely find two identical integration solutions. Each manufacturing company will have their own practices, systems and specifics. Because of such high level of complexity, software vendors are trying to rely on partners to deliver an integration solution for end users.The ability of partner to deliver integration becomes a key in the ability to make an overall implementation success .

PLM Integration is hard. The cost of implementation is high. The cost of failure is even higher. Vendors are pushing integrations out of the scope of their deliveries. Partners, like To-Increase can provide a significant advantage by helping customers to make integration happen. These are realities of ERP and PLM implementations.

What is my conclusion? Integrations are important and complicated at the same time. Integration failures are one of the main sources that can cause overall implementation failure. The reliance on services increases the implementation cost and creates dependency of customers on implementation services. I’d expect software vendors to re-think their view how they can make integration easier. It can be a significant differentiation factor in future PLM systems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg
Freebie. Nobody paid me to write this article.


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  • Guest

    Interesting topic. Customer requirements come in at various depths relative to integrations. It is important that the customer performs their own risk analysis through the entire product lifecycle from an As-is standpoint. Clearly differentiating the mission-critical pieces of this lifecycle (schedule, cost, quality, security, competitive advantage process differentiators etc.), then ensure vendor selection can respond to risks. Integation of PLM/ERP/MES mix may cover the entire lifecycle. Cover your critical, crucial and driving intellectual property and competitive items first – so as to keep steady or more importantly strive to improve these areas. Simply put – don’t fix what isn’t broken if it makes you money today.

  • beyondplm

    Guest, thanks for your comment! What is important, from my standpoint is to define “integration steps” and following them. It is nearly impossible to accomplish integration as a single big step. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Sundaram J S

    How about product companies having PLM & ERP products from different vendors. I understand that you would like Vendors to come up with standard adaptors along with their PLM/ERP products so that they could be easily intergrated with each other. Apart from the Technical challenges, the integartions would do fine because the processes can be defined by the customer that suits him the best.

    Let me know your thoughts.


  • beyondplm

    Sundaram, Thanks for commenting! I don’t think vendors can come with standard adaptors. It is very costly and the diversity is very high in this space. I think, vendors need to re-think the way they address openness. This is hard and in most cases “not technical” at all. Today’s “openness” strategies (or absence of them) are the reflection of fundamental business models in enterprise software. just my thougths… Oleg