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PLM

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The days of ugly UI are in the past. The trend that started from website design, mobile UI and intuitive consumer application is coming to enterprise software. Users of enterprise software are also consumers and it is hard for them to tolerate bad user experience of software they work every day. Remember my old post – PLM: Ugly vs. Cool? I can see cool UI is coming to engineering space too. My prediction – user friendly interfaces and better user experience will become one of the top 3 factors that will influence PLM in 2015. I can see this trend is coming from leading software providers. I put few examples in my blog few days ago – PDM/PLM UI Makeup: new trend in user experience.

So, cool is going to win. However, here is the thing. Cool is very expensive. To design new experience and to re-work existing applications will take time and money. It won’t happen overnight. So before you make your existing PDM/PLM nicer by developing new web tools or switching to new web technologies, I’d recommend to make some ROI calculation. It will help you to prioritize your work and make your customers happy. Actually the last one is even more important than the money you spend on rework. From my experience customers are getting REALLY angry when vendors are selling an old application with new UI (lipstick on a pig).

How can you decide about what part of your enterprise application to change. To set up priority and calculate ROI is very important. Software developers are very often missing this part of running full speed to change user interface and develop new apps with nice colors, but … performing exactly in the same way as the old one.

There are two things to remember when you think about new UI and new user experience – scale and impact. You need to maximize both and avoid making changes in the part of application that will be exposed to smaller number users or rarely in use. My attention caught by a very interesting article – UX for enterprise by Jordan Koschei. Have a read – here is my favorite passage:

The sheer scale of enterprise clients magnifies the effects of good and bad design alike. Small inefficiencies in large organizations result in extra costs that are passed on to the end user in time spent, money lost, and frustration increased. Likewise, when an enterprise prioritizes user experience for its internal tools, it becomes a more effective organization; a recently released business index shows that design-driven companies outperformed the S&P average by 228% over the last ten years.

It led me to another article that gives a perfect sense of how to approach ROI calculation for UX improvements – Calculating ROI on UX & Usability Projects. It brings list of approaches that can be used for calculation – increased sale, increased productivity, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, decrease training and support cost and few others. From my perspective, very often, development are focusing on customer satisfaction and loyalty. But, this is something that enormously hard to measure. Opposite to that, think about productivity: Here is my favorite passage from the article about that:

For example, if you optimize the UX on a series of screens so that what was once a 5 minute task is now a 2.5 minute task, then you’ve increased a person’s productivity by 100%. That’s huge. HUGE. If the company has 100 phone agents who have an average salary of $40,000 + benefits (~$8,000) (+ an unknown amount for overhead), you could either release or retask those agents on other activities with a savings of $2,4000,000/year. (half of 100 agents x $48,000)

It made me think more specifically about PDM and PLM use cases. What are the most critical, time consuming and repeatable scenarios? If I think about PDM, everything I do with documents –  check-in, check-out, release, view, search is extremely time sensitive. If check-in operation takes 50 minutes and fails at the end, users will be very angry. To improve check-in operation is a very complex task. But if you can save 30% of time, it can result in huge saving. Let me think about PLM use case – ECO management process.It can be really complicated, requires to open multiple screens, browsing for information, making requests. Improvements of this experience, can have a huge impact on productivity. I’m sure, you can come with more scenarios, but I guess you got my idea.

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What is my conclusion? Customers are looking for nice UI. This is not “nice to have” feature for them anymore. However, it comes down to much more than nice layout and pretty colors. It comes down to “user experience” in the way that can make life of users easier, save time and get job done with less clicks. PDM/PLM vendors must think about it before embarking into next development project of changing colors and font size in their existing apps. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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What will influence PLM in 2015?

by Oleg on November 21, 2014 · 0 comments

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2015 is just around the corner. Typically, it is a good time to come with some ideas about what are those trends that will become visible and important for the industry. Today, I want to look in my crystal ball and think what are trends that will influence product lifecycle management strategies, products, vendors and customers in 2015. I want to come with my top 3 – user experience, mobile and big data/analytics.

1. User friendly interfaces, better user experience and ease of implementation

User experience and new UI design becomes a norm. Ugly enterprise software is a thing in the past. Vendors are face-lifting existing products and setting really high bar for new software. Personalization, screen simplification, on-boarding scenarios and overall user friendliness are coming into play. Nevertheless, I don’t expect PLM products to change fundamentally in 2015. Behind the scene, PLM products still remain ugly and complex. However, outside facade is clearly improving, which is really good sign for customers. Another aspect of user-friendliness is related to industry vertical and tailoring. To come with predefined user scenarios, data models and implementation practices will become a norm. Nobody wants to start to implement from scratch.

2. Mobile access to information

Total acceptance of mobile devices is not leaving any space to vendors to ignore and avoid it. There is no time to think how to deliver mobile experience. Customers are expecting mobile access for anything. It is a challenge for many vendors. At the same time, mobile development today is not magic rocket science. So, I’m expecting to see growing number of mobile solutions coming from PLM vendors. Another part of mobile solution is related to ability of vendors to come with a specific mobile experience. It will become less about “just mobile app doing the same our product does”, but about apps that supports new way of work – mobile.

3. Big data & analytics

Big data is a huge trend- lot of buzz and hype is going around that. Until now, most of PLM customers were not much involved into big data activities. However, turns out, big data trend is reshaping into very useful data analysis projects. And from that standpoint, many PLM customers are getting very much interested in results. To get insight on quality of processes, product usage, customer services – this is only a very short list of topics where analytics and big data can help. I’m expecting appearance of many “smart data analytic” products that can bring value on top of what PLM products are doing today.

What is my conclusion? I guess we are going to see many other smaller trends in 2015. Some technologies are getting matured, company will come with new set of products and technologies. Also, I can see some bigger scale development and trend that will become a cross multi-year initiatives. However, these 3 things- user experience, mobile and big data are things that will influence on how PLM products will be shaped in 2015. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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Thoughts about BOM ownership

by Oleg on November 20, 2014 · 0 comments

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The Engineering.com publication about PLM taking ownership of MBOM ignited few discussions online about Bill of Materials, BOM Management and co-existence of multiple enterprise systems. My first thought was that all of them will have to rethink the way BOM is synchronized between systems. This is not a new problem. Any implementation of enterprise PLM is facing this challenge. Pumping BOM between PLM, ERP and other systems is costly and complex process. But the reality – this is the only practical way to do so.

I went back in my old writing to find some recommendation how to make it easier. My old blog post five years ago, speaks about Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Materials. To me, all recommendations are still very relevant. Following them can make your “BOM synchronization” problem less painful. Almost at the same time, Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity also shared his thoughts about single BOM: Single Bill of Material – Holy Grail or Pipe Dream? I liked Jim’s thought about Single BOM vs. Associated BOM. Here is a passage I liked:

Companies have spent a lot of time and effort making logical connections between different BOMs, and developing tools to help develop and synchronize different BOMs. For example, PLM, MPM, and Digital Manufacturing software helps companies translate an engineering BOM into a manufacturing BOM and then further into a BOP. In fact, they have gone further upstream to match conceptual BOMs and requirement structures downstream to BOMs. Maybe you would call these “workarounds” to the real answer of a single BOM. But I would propose a different view based on history and my observations. Perhaps engineers have done what we do best – addressed the problem in the most practical way as opposed to the most elegant way to solve a problem.

At the same time, single BOM or Associated BOM is hard. It requires many points of synchronization between departments and processes. Therefore, I still keep my opinion that most of companies today are still Not Ready for Single Bill of Materials.

So, what to do? How to make an improvement? Do you think fight for MBOM as it mentioned in Engineering.com article is the only way? I tried to visualize the picture of different BOMs and present it together with how PLM and ERP ownership is distributed. Take a look on the picture below.

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There are paces where each systems claims their benefits. At the same time, there are places where ownership of bill of materials and related product information can be different. The touch point is manufacturing BOM. I still believe, this is the next cool thing in PLM – how to manage MBOM.

What is my conclusion? I think both ERP and PLM vendors need to take a step back. Data ownership was a fundamental part of any enterprise business strategy for the last 20 years. Maybe, this is a time to change data ownership approach? Maybe it is a time to think about better data synchronization and transparency. How we can help people to collaborate alongside the product development process from design to management and to support and services? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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Social PLM: How to pull a trigger?

November 19, 2014

In my yesterday blog, I shared some of my thoughts about “Facebook at Work” and potential impact on engineering and manufacturing software. It made me think again about all discussions and stories related to social software trend and social PLM. Social was trending topic 3-4 years ago. Many new companies were founded back those days to […]

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How CAD and PLM vendors will compete with “Facebook at Work”

November 18, 2014

Social software was hot topic in engineering software ecosystem for the last few years. The results are somewhat mixed. Start-up companies and well established CAD/PLM vendors learned by mistakes, some of them failed and some of them is still in process of developing new type of collaborative engineering software. I captured some of my thoughts […]

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Future PLM selection: It is like to get married or buy a smartphone

November 17, 2014

Ask people about PLM selection process. You can get an impression it is not a simple process. The same can be said about any decision related to enterprise software – it is complex. Today, I want to take a look on that from a bit different perspective. I know few manufacturing companies that literally spending […]

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DIY Cloud PLM using Aras Innovator

November 14, 2014

I’m continue to explore the topic of cloud PLM options. My last blog post about it covered delivery options for cloud PLM. It raised few interesting discussions showing that vendors are closely following up any opportunity to leverage a combination of existing PLM platforms and cloud infrastructure. IaaS is a technical buzzword behind this option. […]

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How PLM can leverage Azure analytics?

November 13, 2014

Analytics is a hot word these days. You can hear it everywhere. It sounds and feels sweet and smart. You can think about crunching data and getting results. It sounds very Googley? Indeed, Google is spending lot of money making Google cloud platform more affordable. Google provides some interesting online services that can be used […]

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PDM & PLM UI Makeup: new trend in user experience

November 12, 2014

User experience is in focus these days. Slowly, but surely enterprise software companies are coming to the point of understanding how important is that. It is not about changing of colors and making buttons nicer. It is about how to get a major revamp in behavior of software or how often we call these days […]

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PLM Vendors and Tunnel Vision

November 11, 2014

I’ve been following Dassault Systems 3DXforum this morning. Thanks for technology improvements these days you can be almost present at the events by combination of live streaming and social media communication. The first presentation by Bill Taylor, Fast Company editor struck me by mentioning of the idea of Tunnel Vision. I took a trip to […]

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