The conversation I started yesterday PLM vs Excel: Bullfight and Prohibition made me think again about reasons why Excel is constantly winning the competition with enterprise software. One of my readers compared Excel v PLM usage with situation where diversity of painting tools used – each one is more suitable for a particular part of the job. I like it and can see a point where clunky enterprise software tools used to manage structured requests, while Excel can be used as a lightweight tool for reports and data input. Although, I can see it done in many companies, I don’t think it is a sustainable situation.
So, why many people (including myself) are preferring Excel or spreadsheets atop of more structured enterprise-like tools? Here is my guess. It is all about speed. It is about speed of changes, speed of interaction, speed of implementations. Absence of speed and agility is a pain point in PLM implementations. It comes in variety of things. In my view, PLM can learn from Excel and improve its speed in 3 aspects:
1. Speed of installation and configuration
This is a place where change is already happening. Thanks to cloud technologies and SaaS applications! Today, we don’t need to setup servers and install PLM software. This part is gone. For many PLM application, new cloud PLM tools are good enough and it takes minutes to get an instance of PLM tool at your disposal.
2. Speed of implementation
PLM implementations are huge problems in the way it happens now. You might remember my blog – What cloud PM cannot do for you? There is no magic. The alignment with manufacturing organization, definition of data models, setting up processes, implementing some scripts is time that team need to spend. It is far from perfection.
3. Speed for clicks
This is a tricky part. By nature, enterprises are very structured. People, departments, processes. To make change is not simple and it requires involvement of people. As a result, many enterprise applications (PLM included) designed with a “structure in mind”. It is transformed into many “clicks” that user must perform. When a specific function you need is “15 clicks away”, you will hate the tool and prefer Excel spreadsheets. But I can spot some changes here. Organizations are becoming more agile, lean and flat. There is a lot of place for improvement for PLM tools here.
What is my conclusion? PLM architects and developers should think about “speed” as a core competitive advantage that can help them to win over existing PLM incumbents. While setup and installation problems are gone now as a result of massive cloud invasion, implementations and UX paradigms are still the same “old fashion father’s PLM”. So, we need to add speed to PLM environment. Just my thoughts…
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