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 – Aras.com. 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…