It is not a secret that PLM workflow is very hard to implement. Every PLM system workflow implementation is balancing between value and complexity. And companies are looking how new agile methods can improve collaboration, communication and streamline processes.
In my view, it is a right time to take a look on a future of PLM workflow paradigm. In my view, the value of workflow is inflated. And it happens because companies are often confused between process and workflow. While process is absolutely important, workflow is just a way to implement it. At the same time, workflow is very old maybe not the most efficient paradigm. It requires lot of preparation, validation, research, mapping of processes, people, etc. And, very often, the first test run of workflow can find some issues and inconsistency. To maintain workflows is very hard.
Modern manufacturing is characterized by high level of distribution. People, engineering facilities, manufacturing shops, suppliers, contractors. To manage traditional workflows in such environment is a very complicated job. I can see new trends to replace sequential workflow with interactive user experience.
What technology will play a role of the future workflow engines? It was my pure speculation back in 2015 to think about bots as a future workflow managers. Since that time, things started to materialize in a new trend of chatbots. I can see chatbots as a very promising trend to improve user experience and to provide a new way to run processes in organizations. And instant messages can be a good vehicle to make it happen.
My attention was caught SlaqHQ blog –Threaded messaging comes to Slack. Are you using Slack? Actually I do and think it pretty awesome simple idea of chats and communications. I can see how threaded messages can take Chat applications one step up. You can read more here.
It seems like a pretty simple update, but it took two years to create; this launch marks the fourth iteration of how Slack imagines threads could work. Rosania says it may not make sense for every channel to have threads in it. But he also thinks there could be new and creative use cases for them. Within Slack itself, some engineers have used threaded messaging to track the various bugs reported to the company. If a coder had particular expertise in resolving a certain kind of bug, that team member could respond directly (or ping the right person) without interrupting the larger flow of discussion. With threads, Slack users can also scroll past multiple topics to find the ones most relevant to them, cutting down on the time needed to find messages in a more free-flowing chat.
What is my conclusion? The simplification of PLM workflows by introducing new communication paradigm is happening in front of our eyes. Chatbots, message threads, instant collaboration – these are elements of new product lifycle process management and collaboration. We are going to see much more changes. Companies are not ready to tolerate complex sequential workflows with hard-coded behavior as well as slow ROI on developing process management solutions. This is going to be “end of PLM workflows” as we knew them. Just my thoughts…
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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. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.