Who will make PLM for eXtreme Manufacturing?

Who will make PLM for eXtreme Manufacturing?


I’m sure most of you are familiar with XP (Extreme Programming) – software development methodology, which intent to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. The history of XP goes back in the end of 90s. Despite very short history XP is very popular and it is hard to find a respectful software development team not adopting at least part of principles of XP.

Earlier this week, I learned about XM (eXtreme manufacturing) inspired by Scrum and Kanban. XM named after XP and it takes some principles of eXtreme Programming such as agile, communication, user stories and more. According to Wikipedia article, XM is interactive and incremental development framework. It combines best practices of project management and focused on holistic approach in goal achievement. The same wikipedia article quotes and example of experimental car that was developed just in 3 months. Few other examples are available. Here is the passage from wikipedia speaking about that:

In 2008, Joe Justice entered the Automotive X Prize, and achieved with XM what Fortune Magazine called the “seemingly impossible;” he and his team developed a functional prototype of an ultra-efficient automobile in three months time.[4] Even more remarkably the 100 mpg car has an impressive 0-60: < 5 seconds [1].[5] A number of prototype cars have been developed by separate companies using the XM process. Companies use XM as a way to challenge their employees to develop new skills and learn the power of teamwork to solve complex problems. For example, Lockheed Martin(Sunnyvale, CA) challenged 200 of its engineers to build a 100 mpg car in a single day; the challenge was met and the team’s car was sold for $25,000.[6] Another such example isopensourceecology.org,[7] whose Global Village Construction kit is bringing affordable industrial farming techniques to the small scale farm.

If you are familiar with XP, you may find some of XM methods very similar. Here is a very short explanation:

XM uses a prioritized product backlog as the primary work input queue. Work is visualized in an open area generally on a single team Kanban Board. Every XM team has a Scrum Master and also a Product Owner, who together with the team help to ensure that Agile/Lean principles are followed.

I found some additional materials about XML here and here. The last one is Kickstarter project by Joe Justice who coined XM term – Develop eXtreme Manufacturing class and curriculum.

Learning about XM made me think about possible intersection of PLM and XM. It seems to me PLM vendors are not very focused on this space today. There are lots of tools for XP and Agile development. These tools are helping to support development teams to achieve goals, work on user stories, log issues and control projects. Some of these tools are very successful. These tools such as Jira by Atlassian successfully developed large software communities. I’m sure rethinking some of existing XP tools can be a good starting points to develop PLM for XM.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing space is changing. New type of manufacturing companies are coming. My hunch, these companies will adopt agile and XM type of work and will change traditional working methods. These companies will develop new world of manufacturing (similar to the revolution that was made by Henry Ford back 100 years ago). It looks like an interesting opportunity to look what type of software tools these companies will require. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit scruminc


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  • Gregory PERASSO

    Hi Oleg

    Agree with you for the fact that PLM vendors should add capability in their tools to be able to work on a XP , XM or Agile way …

    Today, they’re are more focused on “traditional” way, like Req management + Config and Change Management, System Engineering ….

    Anyway … just my thoughts 😉 Agile or Srum is not necessary the best in class methodology … Most of threads talk about the “execution” part of the Agile methodology (sprints, loop iterations, reviews etc …) But do not talk about the 1st step …the work done by customer and the Architect (product onwer) to define the scope/need and solution (use cases and stories)

    It works fine only if the Customer and Product Owner are aligned and clear in their mind on the need or the target solution….. And if the iterations are “reasonable” (User experience enhancement )
    If during the Scrum execution, the foundations have to been reworked (Data model, interface, business scenarios)… The project will diverge

    More difficult for large product to be able to work like that …

  • beyondplm

    Gregory, thanks for sharing your thoughts! You are right, the process of design and development is complicated. Agile is not a magic sauce. It is just a method of work that might be used to achieve the goal. It will not a bullet proof :).

  • I find it interesting that many of the Agile development
    frameworks, some mentioned here such as Scrum, Kanban and XP had its origins
    from the automotive manufacturing industry but then later (now) influences the
    industry which influenced itself. I guess the mantra of almost any Agile method
    is “embrace change” and this cyclic self-improvement is one way to embrace

  • I agree Scrum or any Agile method is not the silver bullet but I think it can make almost any project more successful. Each Agile framework has its characteristics such as sprints with Scrum, but from my understanding most Agile methods do not talk about the how(execution). This is why virtually no two companies implement it the same way. This also allows combining of methodologies and frameworks such as pair programming (which is part of XP) to be used when executing a Scrum project.

    Almost all Agile methods have the goal of transparency and wants to preserve all the interests of all the stakeholders. They try to facilitate this with some guidelines and some rules (daily stand-up meetings, short iterations with deliverables, definition of done, etc.) but does not constrain you to do it a certain way.

    I constantly use concepts from different Agile frameworks depending on the task at hand for what I consider large projects in software development, sales, marketing, R&D and manufacturing (shipbuilding). I would be interested to hear some of the challenges you have had with larger projects as what I consider a large project may be different than yours.

  • beyondplm

    @Denis, thanks for mentioned that! Yes, lots of agile and lean roots are going to automotive industry and Toyota in particular.

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