Collaboration was an important element in the development of product lifecycle technologies. First PDM and PLM systems allowed to control data access, share information and communicate between team members. Back those days, processes in manufacturing organizations were managed using emails and paper trays. So, PDM / PLM collaboration was quite innovative idea.
For the last decade, our business environment has changed significantly. It directly affects the ways we manage processes and interact in product development and manufacturing organizations. We can see many new tools and technologies around us. But the paradox is that the more tools we have, more complex the environment and collaboration. How to improve communication between people? How to simplify collaboration?
I found a confirmation to that in the last slide deck – Collaboration Trends and Strategy Approaches for 2016 by Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at 7Summits. He speaks about mobile, cognitive supported collaboration, remote presence, community management, wearables, digital workspace and few other trends.
The following slide is basically a confirmation to what I see in many organizations. There are so many tools that helping people to collaborate. But it makes us even more disconnected.
I was digging into Dion’s slides trying to find something that can give me an idea how engineers can improve collaboration in product development. I found the following slide demonstrating the idea of multi-layered collaboration strategy.
One of the problems I’ve seen in the companies for many years is related to tool proliferation. The change is hard for people, so they keep using existing tools. Also, many manufacturing companies are conservative in the adoption of new tools, products and tech. On the other side, larger organizations are complex and even harder to change. This is a situation where application of John Gal’s law can help to create a more efficient collaborative environment for large company.
A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system. – John Gall
What is my conclusion? Team collaboration improvement is an important step in the process of introduction of new tools to product development organization. Team is the most connected group of people. In product development it can be cross functional multi-disciplinary team of engineers working on a specific product or technology. By improving team collaboration we can build a foundation to optimize product development in modern digital age. Just my thought…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain.