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PDM vs. PLM

How To Choose PDM? (Another visual guide)

by Oleg on September 13, 2010 · 354 comments

Last week I published my visual guide how to choose PLM. This post was the most popular during the whole week. So, I decide to try another one this week about Product Data Management.

What do you think is the future of PDM? The demand for tight integration with CAD system and need to keep up with CAD system release schedule put PDM very dependent on CAD vendors. Most of non-CAD-related PDM implementation moved to PLM that focuses on wider aspects of data coverage in this organization. See my previous post – PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective.

I’d interested to know your view of the future PDM trajectories. Do you see it differently?

Best, Oleg

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I’m continuing discussions about PDM vs. PLM differences. I’d encourage you to take a look on my previous two posts related to this topic: PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective and PDM vs. PLM: A Process Perspective. My next PDM vs. PLM comparison perspective is related to integration of PDM or PLM systems with other systems and processes in the organization.

Data Integration

For PDM, data integration is the ability to facilitate an exchange between product data records, other enterprise systems and extended value chain. The most important and very important is PDM – ERP integration. This integration provides an ability to exchange design, engineering and manufacturing data. For PLM data integration becomes more complex and needs to include an expanded set of application and data sources. Some of advanced data integration PDM projects are including federation of data between multiple systems.

Process Integration

When it comes to business and product development processes, both PDM and PLM systems can provide a significant influence on how these processes can be integrated. However, PDM system process scope is normally very limited and stay focused on engineering documents and data lifecycle. PLM process integration is focused on the ability of PLM system to have a tight connection with other processes. Most of them are ERP-based. These days it becomes more and more important to have a good support for integrated product development processes.

Social Integration

This is a relatively new aspect of integration and related to the ability of PLM system to be integration with social tools. Tools like Yammer and others represent a new class of tools helping people to collaborate in the organization. Both PDM and PLM systems provide a context for social tools. It can come as data about product, documents, changes processes and everything that helps to identify social relations. For example, by analyzing your product data, you can find a knowledge expert in a particular filed in the organization, etc.

What is my conclusion? Both PDM and PLM systems have very strong dependencies on their ability to be integrated within an organization. PDM integrations are oriented on data access, transfer and interoperability between a PDM and other systems in the enterprise. Data is the main focus of PDM integrations. It may include a different type of data integrations – manual, automatic, one or bi-directional data integrations. However, when it comes to Product Lifecycle Management, the scope of integration can be increased dramatically. It may include integration of processes, people and social context. The ability of PDM and PLM system to integrate what other systems and people in the organization are critical for successful implementations. This of the reasons why PDM and PLM implementations often fail in the organization.

Update: When I finished this post, I found a new post coming from Kurt Chen of Technology Evaluation Center. Kurt posted PDM vs. PLM A Matrix View. What I liked in Kurt’s post is the focus on the PDM/PLM need to be integrated with people and system in the manufacturing organization. This is a key in my view.

Best, Oleg

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PDM vs. PLM: A Process Perspective

by Oleg on August 17, 2010 · 1,148 comments

I want to continue the discussion started last week in my post ‘PDM vs. PLM: A Data Perspective‘. Thank you all for comments and your contribution to this conversation. I think, clarification in this space can be very beneficial for customers, vendors and other people involved in planning and operation systems for product development, engineering and manufacturing. From the data standpoint, PLM is about to cover a much broader scope of data. However, data is only one dimension, we can use to compare PDM and PLM. Another dimension is  a “process”. So, today I’d like to come with a process perspective on what are differences between PDM and PLM.

Process Definition

The definition of a term “process” is very broad. Looking on the Wikipedia “process” page I found a diverse set of definitions. I’d like to take two of them as a context of this discussion.

Wikipedia - Process.
Process or processing typically describes the act of taking something through an established and usually routine set of procedures to convert it from one form to another, as a manufacturing or administrative procedure, such as processing milkcheese, or processing paperwork to grant a mortgage loan, or converting computer data from one form to another.

Wikipedia - Business Process.
A business process or business method is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal) for a particular customer or customers.

I found that vendors in the space of design, engineering and manufacturing software are using the “process” word very frequently and by doing so, came to the situation where everything in their activity can be considered as a process. In my view, it created a lot of problems with explanations of what software solutions are actually doing in a context of particular organizational processes and needs.

Why PLM Is About Process?

The main reason when PLM is tightly bound with the definition of a process is actually related to the definition of a lifecycle. This is about a whole product life. Every step in this life cycle can be defined as a collection of activities / tasks that produce a result (product). Manufacturing organization activity is focused on the process of planning, engineering, development, manufacturing and supporting products. Design process, Change Management, Release Process, Sales Process… All these activities are part of the overall product lifecycle process. When you think about these steps, you can come to the definition of PLM as a software helping companies to organize and maintain product related processes.

PDM vs. PLM Processes?

Originally, PDM was created in order to maintain design and engineering data. Simply put it was about managing CAD data, related engineering files and their revisions. This type of activity normally can be localized inside of engineering organization. PDM systems are bound to the design tools (historically it was CAD) and serve engineers in their activity related to management of  versions and releasing of design and engineering information to manufacturing and rest of the organization. With such a scope PDM easy becomes a software to maintain a release process. However, in real life, this design release is connected to the other product development activities. This is a situation when PLM is coming with broader process support of managing a change, supply chain, quality and other (product related) processes.

What is my conclusion? The first ugly truth coming out of the data perspective post - PLM is about to cover wider data scope. Thinking about a process perspective, I came to the conclusion of the second ugly truth –  it is better to explain your software product value in association to the real organizational and product development processes. ERP first discovered a “process-secret-sauce” and started to bind their modules and expand ERP to additional organizational processes.. CAD/PDM companies came second to the spot and decided to capture a broad definition of Product Lifecycle Processes. PDM was about one simple process – Engineering Data Release. Shifting from PDM to PLM, vendors attempted to bind solutions to product development processes in an organization. However, the diversification of these processes in organizations is very high. It resulted in a very high level of complexity and growing amount of customization and software tailoring. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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