Why PLM selection is about data access problem first?

by Oleg on October 29, 2013 · 4 comments


How to select PLM? Manufacturing companies, industry pundits and vendors are trying to simplify this process. Nevertheless, after almost three decades, the problem is still on the table. PLM sales is value based and unfortunately requires to juggle too many people and events together. I see this process as a combination of technological choices, company practices and vendor selection.

I recently came to few notable PLM blog articles focusing on different aspects of PLM selection. My long time industry colleague and blog buddy Jos Voskuil put an article PLM Selection – Additional thoughts. Take a time and read Jos’ article – it contains many good recommendations and options to check when you trying to select PLM system such as – organizational requirements, implementation specifics, cost and even vendors FUD. The last one was interesting  and I specially liked this passage:

My recommendation to a company that gets involved in FUD during a PLM selection process, they should be worried about the company spreading the FUD. Apparently they have no stronger arguments to explain to you why they are the perfect solution; instead they tell you indirectly we are the less worst.

Another article I came across is a publication in CL2M portal. A short writeup by Scott Cleveland is interesting – Why PLM? Scott is also mentioning multiple reasons to get involved into PLM. One of them is about “looking for information” effort was caught my special attention. It comes as a first problem one of his client was trying to solve by implementing of PLM. Here is how Scott explains that:

Looking for Information: He told me about the time his engineers spend looking for ‘stuff’ [like drawings and files]. I said this is a problem everywhere. I told him there have been many studies performed analyzing the time it takes engineers to find ‘stuff’, and all of them say that, without document management software, engineers can spend as much as 25% of their time looking for ‘stuff’.

He said he couldn’t put a figure on it, but believes that could be true at his company. He also mentioned that at some point the engineer will stop looking and just recreate the missing information. He said this is a killer. First it wastes project time and second, it leads to duplicate part numbers and possible errors caused by the duplicate drawings.

All together, it made me think about how to get information access into the central place of PLM selection process. Getting access to the information from multiple devices, organization locations and at any time becomes an absolutely must requirement any vendor should answer before getting into future PLM evaluation. Otherwise, you will be sinking into people inefficiency every day.

What is my conclusion? We live in the era when access to information becomes mission critical. Your design can lead to much more expensive options. You can potentially select wrong supplier. You can miss delivery dates. However, the most important is to note time aspect. Engineers are spending lots of time looking for “stuff”. This is the problem nobody can tolerate any more. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

  • Bruce Robitaille

    At this time, for large enterprise companies, selection of PLM is often reselection. That is, companies that have already implemented PLM are trying to assess a reinvestment or continued investment with their existing PLM vendor or a decision to move to some other vendor.
    My experience has been that the decision process is very different. As a vendor, you still have to obtain sponsorship from executives by demonstrating potential value in the form of an ROI, but savvy clients also demand that the vendors demonstrate (through evaluation) how PLM application capabilities can be applied to address specific challenges (process and practice).
    This is very different from wholesale assumptions about “potential” value, such as labor saving related to reduced search time. Granted, the example may be true, but the quantifiable financial saving is still just potential. All that is fine for economic justification, but an end user may tell you the real issue will not be solved by doing fewer searches (which might be used in the metric calculation for ROI). In fact, the value might be in doing more flexible searches or how the app capability allows search results to be interrogated.
    My point is, sometimes the selection process not only involves quantifiable financial value for C-level execs, but also qualitative value demonstration to department heads and end users to obtain their approval for buy-in.

  • http://www.eng-eng.com/ Ed Lopategui

    I think the biggest problem is those often charged with implementing a PLM system are seldom involved in selecting it. Couple months back, I had a post that was inspired from your earlier discussion of C-level support in this context. http://eng-eng.com/?p=116

  • beyondplm

    Bruce, thanks for your comment and sharing thoughts… I see you point- it is very true for large enterprises. It is true, the majority of them already have PLM strategy implementation and (sometimes) re-implemented. They are looking how to expand and transform their product development processes and how PLM implementations and technologies can support it. For many companies it is “lesson learned and fixing” process. There are different way to see value proposition behind the data access – from management (C-level) and from end-user standpoint. Both are valid and important at the same time. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Ed,thanks for the comment and sharing of your post. I confirm the guilt – I missed your post. After reading, I think you are spot on – consultant and implementers are rarely put a controversy in the selection process. One of the reasons I can see is business model. For most of them, profit is coming from the service agreement. Most of them can do implementations with different vendors and PLM systems. Customer is paying the bill.

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