Should PLM Fit Business Process or Change it?

If company business processes need to be re-engineered it’s a management decision. Now the question is if we would like to make this decision part of the process for software purchase? I see two opposite approaches: 1/implementation of the best practice system which will require changes and, as a result, improvements of company’s business process; 2/Adaptation to existing processes with the future capability to improve and optimize. There are some pros and cons in both directions:

Implementation of the system best practices: Pros – better process engineering, optimization, ability to bring existing best practices. Cons’ – changes of business processes and need for management decisions potentially will cause implementation to be delayed and increase chances of failure.

Adaptation to existing processes: – Pros – potentially shorter implementation cycle, fewer organizational changes; Cons’ – tendency to automate obsolete and non-efficient processes.

Your comments are welcome.


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  • Alec Gil

    I think middle ground is appropriate. I believe one of the reasons companies stay in business in the competitive environment is because inherently they built processes, formally or informally, that provide them with competitive advantage or differentiation. Often, they have sound business processes that can be optimized or made more efficient by available technologies, but that is different from complete process re-engineering.

    That is not to say that technologies cannot offer eurika moments by offering approaches that would change some business processes in a fundamental way. I just do not believe that best practices for a particular company or even industry is something that is easily capturable within a particular technology – I always felt that is more of sales strategy by technology providers.

  • I will agree and disagree with my friend Alec 🙂 I believe that a middle ground is appropriate in all cases as no software is perfect nor is any one company’s processes. But my thought process is slightly different.
    I believe there is a wide spectrum of maturity in PLM business processes in North American companies today. Some businesses can barely understand the concepts of Configuration Management, much less implement them. If those companies have a competitive advantage in their industry, I suspect it is not around their PLM processes, but more likely around some other aspect of their business (strategic partnerships, sales model, sourcing model, etc.). For these businesses, they should throw away their current PLM-related business processes and follow the best practices of an established PLM vendor to get the benefits of a PLM revolution.
    For those businesses whose market advantage comes from their PLM processes, I believe they should bend software to meet their process needs, but keep an eye out for places where the software can extend their competitive advantage through new best practices/techniques. These companies need a flexible PLM toolkit more than a best practice methodology.

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