How to sell PLM to enterprise IT

How to sell PLM to enterprise IT

Enterprise IT adoption cycle diagram made by Simon Wardley made me feel sad and funny at the same time. I found it one of the best visualizations of many situations I’ve been in the past when working on PLM sales and implementation situations. This is a brilliant reflection of technology adoption route for IT department – ignore, prevent, tolerate, allow, integrate (credit Joe Drumgoole tweet).

enterprise-IT-adoption-cycle

It made me think about how to prevent a conflict with enterprise IT earlier in the PLM sales process. Today, I want to share some of my recommendations. These steps helped me in many situations. This is not a silver bullet, but I found them useful. PLM system and implementation cannot live in isolation. It has to be integrated with many other systems and processes in organization. Therefore, to learn them early during the sales process can be very beneficial.

1- Learn about enterprise IT 

You need to make yourself familiar with basics of enterprise IT. You can bring engineering people to help you at this stage, but you need to get basic information about company enterprise infrastructure, data centers, data management. You need to learn how IT is managed. Is it local team? Does company use outsource IT consultant and service company, etc.

2- Get information about related enterprise software

PLM system cannot live in isolation. So, it will use databases, connect and use variety of application services, integrated with ERP and CRM systems. It will help you a lot to gather information about enterprise software. More specifically, you need to learn about fundamentals of how company is doing item master management, material planning and manufacturing BOM.

3- Find matched solutions 

Do some homework and research to find similar solutions and/or references to products already used by a company. It will help you to find precedents and patterns you can refer during the review with IT organization.

4- Ask for meeting with enterprise IT to discuss PLM values and architecture

Don’t wait until late stage to discuss architecture and specific deployment aspects with IT organization. Do it earlier in the process to identify potential conflicts of infrastructure and process implementation – security, data ownership, workflows related to manufacturing planning  and supply chain. During the meeting, try to show how IT organization will benefit from adopting PLM solution. It can come in many places – better data management, process optimization, collaboration with suppliers, data integration. Very often, IT organization suffers from complexity of processes IT people need to support. Explain to IT how PLM solution can help if you will have one more vote inside of organization.

5- Make reference call with IT people 

Find existing customers that you can reference with similar enterprise infrastructure and solution landscape. Nothing can be more convincing IT people, than speaking to people having same roles in another company. In many situations it can help to solve problems much faster.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise sales requires communication with IT people in organization. One of the mistakes is to think that you need first to convince business and engineering people about PLM solutions. In my view, this is wrong approach. You need to work proactively with IT, otherwise IT can destroy the deal at very last moment. To get references from existing well-known customers is one of the best ways to pass IT. To have certification and/or partnerships with vendors, which products already used and can be referenced is another complementary approach. If you see a major conflict in architecture, system approach or IT strategy, you better get an alert about that early in the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Diagram by Simon Wardley’s  blog – Bits or Pieces?  (CC BY SA 3.0)

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  • Oleg hi, Most of the time I agree with your point, but in this case I have to disagree.

    It is true that IT in the past was a separate kingdom in many organizations, so you have to deal with them. Currently you would assume business people are more educated to look through the IT fog (cloud) so the role of IT could be diminishing.

    I think the reason why IT does not take any risks is because they do not feel the business challenge. Some big Oil & Gas OEM standardize on Sharepoint as IT defines this is the common tool to be used. The same for construction of new Nuclear Plants. The tools are defined by IT (again Sharepoint and point solutions – no PLM)

    The main reason is the weakness of business to convince IT that they need a different approach. It is like a catch22 as business most of the time is not forced to think about different ways. They are measured by the old metrics of performance.

    PLM and change can only come from business (or management) who are pushing a way to work different. And working different means a risk. IT has been drilled to reduce risks.

    We cannot blame IT – it is about business pushing (which might be a challenge)

  • beyondplm

    Jos,

    Thanks for your comment! I appreciate your disagreement, which allows me to clarify things.

    IT is the organization, which is taking responsibility for operation of enterprise system. PLM system can provide as many advantages as you want, but in order to realize it in a practice, system must be in operation mode. It was always true and it was one of the most challenging factor for PLM vendors trying to sell enterprise PLM. The situation now is much better compared to what we had 10 years ago – many PLM values are better understood and IT organization has more incentives to figure out how to make PLM work. At the same time, dependencies and complexity of implementation requires a very tight coordination between business divisions and IT organization.

    In addition to growing understanding of PLM values, IT organizations these days are challenged by new business and tech ecosystem called cloud. It changes a lot for IT organization and it generates new demand level from business organization.

    To work with IT organization is a priority, in my view. I don’t think it is higher priority than working with business organization. However, a better alignment with IT organization can help to make PLM implementation much easier.

    Just my opinion.
    Best, Oleg

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