Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what?

Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what?

CIMdata PLM forum yesterday was a good place to discuss ideas that from a first look can sound a bit crazy. One of them – how to rethink PLM. Wait… you can say. We just came to some sort of understanding about what is PLM and how to sell PLM values to management. There are enough references online from customers that sharing information about how to plan, implement and maintain PLM environment. Why do we need to rethink it?

Here is the thing. My attention caught by the results of the following poll during CIMdata forum (see below). What will be the biggest market disruptions. The results are a bit surprising. The future PLM disruption isn’t coming from cloud, social or new user devices. On the other side, new business models came to the focus.

So, what does it mean to PLM?


The simple and straightforward answer on this question – customers are looking for cheaper PLM licenses or subscriptions to ease future proliferation of PLM in an organization. It might be true and there is a demand to lower license cost. Now, imagine the dream- to license price of PLM is $0 (zero). Does it make a significant change in the way you think about PLM? Maybe a bit. But I don’t see the PLM adoption problem solved by doing that. Actually, there is one PLM vendor who is not selling PLM licenses, but selling optional subscription – There is high interest to discover new PLM business model developed by Aras, but other PLM vendors are catching up providing subscription based PLM licenses too. So, where is the problem?

One of things I want to discuss is implementation lifecycle. In other words what it takes organization to agree about PLM implementation. The first and most critical step in every PLM implementation is planning. This is a step when company is engaging with business and technical sales people. It is also the time when companies are actively collaborating internally and with PLM consultants to create and/or tailor PLM implementation plan. There is nothing wrong with that, but…. it takes time and it is very costly process. What is the alternative, you can ask? This is $1M question and I’m not sure have an answer.

However, here are some of my thoughts.

1- PLM planning and implementation should turn agile. For the last few years, agile became de-facto product development standard for software companies. PLM vendors and manufacturing companies should discover agile world for PLM implementations. It goes around 3 main things- how to start fast; how to capture data painlessly and how to solve interoperability problem. More thoughts about PLM agile practices here.

2- Take PLM away from corporate process alignment. There are no perfect companies (although some of my friends from manufacturing companies may disagree). Every company is messy in their own way. We should disconnect PLM implementations from solving corporate politics and internal conflicts. Easy to say, but hard to implement. In my view, focus on providing useful tools that company can leverage fast can be helpful.

3- Look on PLM as a tool to manage a complete product lifecycle. Today most of PLM implementations are starting in engineering department and crawl towards manufacturing and support organizations. PLM industry did it for the last decade and it is proven as complex and painful process. What if PLM tools will provide a way for company to manage product lifecycle by focusing on critical milestones – requirements, product data, marketing, design, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, support.

What is my conclusion? The existing paradigm of PLM is to focus on engineering lifecycle and resolving complexity of existing business processes. It is complex and has few critical points of failure. Crawling through corporate politics and conflicts to create process management tool is costly and slow. It is a time to rethink PLM with new paradigm of lifecycle management. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Pramod Bs

    Oleg..totally agree with what you said. todays PLM is focussed on Engineering lifecycle alone. And hardly reaches to Support and service. i see two main reasons for that.
    first existing PLM vendors are CAD software providers. they brought some PDM vendors long time ago. i think they are not prepared to handle dynamics of enterprise challenges like ERP.
    secondly the ERP dominate the space of supply chain, manufacturing, service and support. they changed the perception from software point of view.
    so all the analyst and other thinkers just started agreeing and reached the conclusion that it is hard of tell where PLM ends, ERP begins blah blah..
    i guess no software vendor on the planet built end to end product lifecycle management software platform/ solution bundle which can handle the processes starting from product strategy until disposal of product

  • Chris Williams

    On the New Business model front this would certainly support Aras.

  • Chris Williams

    But who was voting – Customers or Industry Insiders?

  • David Ewing Jr.

    In my travels I have found the biggest hindrance to using Agile methodologies to be two things: 1) IT/IS departments (ironically) and 2) the business itself. Often the business that wants to adopt PLM/ERP/MES does not have business people that understand the systems, data models, etc. This leads to issues in requirements, expectations, etc… But absolutely agree with the point being made.

    I think the concept of taking PLM away from process alignment deserves some airtime. This is sooo often a point of contention.

    I believe that PLM can help in an End to End fashion. But the implementation gets tied up in your second point….so noting ever gets done. In service for example, many companies have built processes and systems to cover the gap between their PLM installation and business needs. Over time this landscape looks like a patchwork of repairs to an old car. Again agree with the point.

    As noted by Oleg and Chris – Aras is in position to move with the industry changes. The Aras model allows for and encourages customization of the data model, processes, etc. to ensure that the customer feels the impact – quickly and efficiently. Aras is different!

    {Full disclosure – I am a Product Manager at Aras. I have a background in Teamcenter. }


  • beyondplm

    For this one – industry insiders.

  • beyondplm

    Chris, if you speak about licenses, then Aras is different, because you can get system without paying subscription (not for everything).

  • beyondplm

    Pramod, thank you for comments and insight. Yes, nobody built end-to-end product lifecycle management software. But there are some companies that succeeded to build a very successful PLM solutions using multiple platforms, tools and a lot of services. It takes a lot of time and effort to align engineering, manufacturing, support, etc. The weakness of many existing PLM business platforms is in their connected to CAD business. But, still… nobody build anything different that can be financial sustainable and successful. Maybe Aras is on track to do so. Who knows?

  • beyondplm

    David, thank you for comments! I agree, to take process alignment from PLM sales requires some specific consideration and it will take companies to “re-skill” their people. But… on the other side, if they do that, PLM software vendors can think about their platforms in a more sophisticated way and provide a better infrastructure. What is important is not take back route into PLM toolkits like something industry developed 20 years ago.

  • Stephanie Green

    This confirms the feeling I’ve had (and commented before on this site) that cloud is evolutionary for PLM, but not disruptive. What is disruptive is the ability to quickly launch and solve even just one issue – whether or not it’s fully aligned with everything else in the organization. One could look at it as creative destruction of existing processes in order to continuously improve.

  • beyondplm

    Stephanie, I think, you are spot on! The idea of “cloud” PLM was to support single process improvement without involvement of IT, installations, etc. From that standpoint, cloud did a huge improvement – you can start “using” PLM almost immediately. But in fact, “using” can be applied to your ability to eliminate installation and IT cost. From the implementation standpoint, cloud systems can provide a better tool because it is just a newer tools developed for the past years and not 15+ years ago. Still, the implementation part is painful and requires process alignment with customers. I shared some of my thoughts about that here — What cloud cannot do for you? ( ). Maybe you had a chance to read it. Thanks for your comments and insight! Best, Oleg

  • Chris Williams

    Did I get this right. Cloud is not important to a group of people who do not have a cloud offering?

  • Chris Williams

    I believe you are right that some components do have an upfront cost, such as CAD adapters. But I bet this is more to do with the fact these come from partners who have not yet changed their business model.

  • beyondplm


  • beyondplm

    Who doesn’t have cloud offering? I think every PLM vendor today has something with cloud.

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