PLM and ERP: Why it doesn’t fit?

Reading Jim Brown’s blog post “Choosing an ERP to Fit PLM?”, I started to ask myself why these systems fit or don’t fit. For many organizations, I had chance to see in my professional life, PLM and ERP integration was always on the level of “love and hate” relationships. People wanted this integration to happen and on the other side discovered a lot of conflicting topics that prevented them from the ability to organize smooth fit and integration between PLM and ERP.

I’d like to figure out the list of issues that in my view prevent these systems from good fit and, actually these issues make systems from being competitive rather than work together.

1. Control of product master record. The constant question of “who owns what” is the first and most important. Both systems compete in the organization on the ability to manage product master record. This competition pattern is different in the different organization, but you can discover a presence of this “control war”.

2. Cross organizational process handling. Organizations are driven by processes. It can be the engineering change, configuration or any other processes. However, in most of the cases, these processes are rarely belonged to a single system in the enterprise. Processes are spanning across various organizational boundaries. PLM and ERP are competing on the ability to plan, build and manage these processes.

3. Enterprise Backbone. This is related to my previous post. How many enterprise backbones we need? PLM and ERP are both interested to keep the role of enterprise backbone. So, they can be very competitive in this role. If IT and engineering organization are not making right arrangement, overall organization can overspend on this a lot of internal dollars.

There is set of additional specific characteristics that we need to keep in mind from my standpoint. PLM and ERP fit is very dependent on the organization. Personal topic plays a very significant role. There are too many systems in existing enterprises. This enterprise system’s zoo, brings us to the point where integration is physically impossible or very costly.

So, what is the solution for PLM and ERP fit? Is it the next place for PLM (or may be ERP) innovation? What is the role of professional service and partner’s organization in the processes of making PLM to fit ERP or vice versa?

Best, Oleg


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