PLM Excels and Future Downfall of Manufacturing?

by Oleg on May 6, 2013 · 6 comments

Microsoft Excel. What is lovely topic to finish the weekend? It was a long time, since I didn’t blog about Excel and its potential influence to product development and manufacturing. At the time my friendly blogging buddies are warning about increasing danger coming from different cloud initiatives here  and there, the real danger is coming from software used by 100% of manufacturers today. So, let me get back to MS Excel.

Over the weekend, I was reading a fascinating FORTUNE article published by CNNMoney here. Authors are blaming Excel for US’s weak economy, Europe’s growth problems and zillions of other financial problems. Here is a simple reason why it happens – people don’t know how to use Excel.

“Prominent financial blogger James Kwak calls Excel “one of the greatest, most powerful, most important software applications of all time.” But perhaps we ask too much of the program, or perhaps of our ability to cut and paste. In the past few years, Excel has been implicated in some of the biggest blunders on Wall Street and in finance in general.”

Let me get back to PLM and product development. IMHO, Excel is one of the most popular PLM system in the world. Each time PLM system fails, people are coming to Excel, which is flexible, powerful and scalable. The initial cost to use Excel is zero. It is hard to find manufacturing company that not using Microsoft Excels these days. Excel report is #1 feature requested by majority of PDM/PLM customers. I wonder how many of these customers are experiencing similar Excel skills mentioned by FORTUNE article above.

What is my conclusion?  Manufacturing mistakes are less visible, compared to Wall street issues. However, if you think about hidden impact of Excel on variety of engineering and manufacturing mistakes, product cost, compliance, and many other aspects of product development, your decision can be different. Maybe it is a time find an alternative to Excel? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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