Siemens’s blog post by Nik Pakvasa and following discussion drove me to put my thoughts in the this direction- how to make next move in my PLM implementation easier? The complexity of PLM implementation is one of the fundamental problems that prevents Product Lifecycle Management industry from mainstream expansion and deployment. When a customer likes all ideas related to how keep track of data and processes about products and around, the implementation becomes a nightmare. PLM vendors did a lot on the way to simplify products and their deployment by providing packaged out-of-the-box implementations, best (or useful) practices related to data models and process implementations. However, the better solution is definitely required.
Business is very dynamic these days. Customers challenged by competition, cost, need to adapt their business processes to the new conditions of business, etc. All these put a fundamental requirement for change in business systems, and PLM is standing first, in my view, in the line of these changes. Whatever happens – outsourcing, optimizing manufacturing or design process changes, the ability to adapt PLM system to the “next PLM implementation” becomes fundamental. However, most of them are not as simple as we want.
If you are looking on additional information about this topic, I can also advise you fresh CIMData paper analyzing customer migration challenges based on their experience with three Siemens PLM customers. Note, you need to make a registration on Siemens PLM web site to get access.
My analyzes shows three most important reasons why “my next PLM implementation” is always complex.
1. Insufficient flexibility of PLM systems. For the first time, you may think I’m kidding, right? In most of the cases, the perception of PLM system is that this is a very flexible outfit. However, if you will take a closer look, many of PLM systems have no consistent flexibility that customers can rely on for many years. Next big things, new releases, improved functionality, new technologies – all these can create a very complex situation for customers.
2. High level of customization activities. This is a very typical for industry. Each PLM implementation contains a significant amount of services that include system configuration, adding of functionality, integration with customer’s systems like ERP and others. The amount of such implementations is so significant that becomes one of the key questions when the customer want to change/move existing implementation. Amount of testing and adaptation that need to be done make this project very complicated.
3. Lack of standardization activities in PLM-related industry space. Standardization is a very expensive activity. My best take on standards is as following: Standards like toothbrushes – everybody needs’em, but nobody wants to use somebody else… If we can imaging that level of standardization in PLM space can be improved, reliance on these standards can be great help.
I want to say few words also about “out-of-the-box” (OOTB). It presented as the universal hammer to solve the problem of PLM implementation, OOTB is a Trojan Horse in PLM industry town. In my view, OOTB provides a simple answer on how to implement PLM system fast for the first time. At the same time, OOTB is not providing any advantages in simplification of my next PLM implementation step. OOTB should come in balance with flexibility and system openness – this is the only way to get PLM to the next level of maturity in implementation.
So, what are my recommendations today?
1. Invest in PLM system openness and flexibility
2. Simplify your customization functionally and technologically.
3. Plan small steps in your PLM implementation journey.
4. Sponsor standardization activity – this is future health of the industry.
Just my thought.