PLM vs Excel: Bullfight and Prohibition

PLM vs Excel: Bullfight and Prohibition


PLM has love and hate relationships with Excel spreadsheets. PLM vendors are spending marketing dollars campaigning to replace Excel. The last post by Lionel Grealou caught my attention during the weekend. Navigate to read PLM vs Excel post here. In addition to to almost traditional confirmation that PLM can outperform Excel spreadsheet, I noticed an interesting statement about the fact some organizations are prohibiting availability of Excel reports. This is a passage I captured:

Some organizations considered removing access to import from / export to Excel from their PLM applications to limit uncontrolled usage of data and reports. Most PLM applications now have advanced data search, live feed dashboard which can be tailored to business needs, with Excel-like features for data mining, profiling, compiling, formatting, presenting in various chart for analysis.

The comparison of PLM vs Excel capabilities for BOM management looks like a bullfight. But honestly, I’m not sure who is who in this fight. PLM vendors are fighting excel spreadsheets for decades with no visible success. The number of whitepapers and sales materials trying to convince users how much damage Excel can do is skyrocketing. But customers are still using Excel.

To remove an access to Excel reports is actually something new and unexpected. I had a chance to see many situations when IT was developed bunch of Excel-based solutions to eliminate the need of end users to touch complex enterprise systems in manufacturing, supply chain and finance. Customers loved Excel and hate complex enterprise software. Which reminded me my very old blog – Why do I like my PLM Excel Spreadsheets with top 5 reasons why I prefer Excel over PLM system. To balance a PLM point of view, I can recommend another post – What PLM need to take over Excel spreadsheets?

What is my conclusion? I’m sure you know that bulls are colorblind. Matadors used red material to mask the bull’s blood. PLM sales materials explaining the value of PLM systems vs Excel spreadsheets is like read caps. Users seems to me colorblind to recognize them. Prohibition also seems to me as a bad way to convince users. Especially in our era of consumerization and total focus on user experience. Enterprise UX is going through the paradigm shift. Old, bulky, cumbersome, weighty and hard to use environment that can block a productive flow will be replaced with new tools. It is all about the need for speed. When each function engineers need is “15 clicks away”, you cannot expect company to perform well. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of vectorolie at



Share This Post

  • Pingback: Your PLM Logic is Useless: Because I’m Excel | E(E)()

  • Pingback: Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) Blog » PLM – Need for speed()

  • Pingback: Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) Blog » PLM: Functionality, Usability, Cost. Pick any two…()

  • Kevin De Smet

    I think in some ways Excel use is probably up compared to 15 years ago. Maybe my logic is faulty but it goes like this: people that were around in manufacturing organizations when PDM/PLM was in the focal point of many engineers or engineering managers around the early 2000s might not be around anymore.

    For new engineers the business challenges that PLM is trying to solve are largely unknown and muddied as these people (this includes myself) weren’t around during those days when it was the focus of many people’s attention. I have colleagues who actually think PDM isn’t Product Data Management as a category but strictly means Metaphase and I gotta say, I don’t blame them as it certainly IS confusing!

  • beyondplm

    Kevin, I agree – many young people are not familiar with old-fashion three letter acronyms. EDM, PDM, PLM…. all these names are confusing for them. But at the same time, I don’t see many alternatives (except spreadsheets) that can do a job.

  • Kevin De Smet

    It’s a shame in that way, as young people have grown up with computers we tend to have preconceived notions of how a computer works or what it can do. This is usually a far less extensive scope than what people were thinking and doing back when most people, didn’t have a home computer yet. They saw possibilities as much more open and expansive and all that despite having far less computational power!

    I’m not trying to glorify a past I’ve only ever read about but the current PLM tools in my opinion are just fine, they already do a lot of stuff. The problem is training and awareness. I blame managers as they want it done “today” instead of doing it right, this makes a quick Excel a seemingly good option but it costs downstream and across the lifecycle. The thing is if you’re in the thick of things and you’ve got a deadline and you have to get things done, nobody in the world will be able to analyze tools and processes…these things need to be thought through before work begins. And if there’s a constant stream of work going on at a company…when, precisely, do you suggest this is to be done? It’s no mystery.

    That’s why whereever I end up working next, they better have their shit real good and real together…because I know, you can’t change it.