I’ve seen a new splash in the discussion around PLM out-of-the-box during the last couple of weeks. The initial hit was done by Marc Lind of Aras publishing his OOTB PLM: Hit of Miss. The name of the post is doing well from the standpoint of Google’s keyword search and then was followed by multiple comments and additional blogs. One of them, Jos Voskuil’s PLM and Flexibility is a great reading. You can enjoy various opinions about what is more important – “ready to go” functionality or flexibility.
Early PDM/PLM experience
The initial PDMs were heavy customized. It started as a database managing CAD files. Later PDM/PLM explored a possibility to manage more data as well as control more processes in organizations. However, the lesson learned during that time was simple – you cannot replicate PDM/PLM experience in such a way. Too complex and too expensive.
Following early experience, industry gurus decided to come with so called “best practices” or Out-of-the-box” implementations. It seems to solve few problems in one hit – to provide a starter package as well as simplify implementation. The obvious success of such approach was in a demo time. Marketing did an excellent job rolling out OOTB features and videos. However, the implementation was hard-landing. I heard about multiple replacement of “PLM Limited Editions” with full PLM packages in order to deliver a promise.
The House of Balance
After all years and multiple options, the discussion of Flexible vs. OOTB seems to me an endless. You obviously don’t want to repeat all implementation steps from the beginning every time. So, your PLM system needs to provide some mechanisms ready to use. On the other side, you need to be ready that every customer will introduce some needs that will require you to make a chance. You will hardly achieve your goals if your system won’t support it.
What is my conclusion? The both sides of this conversation are wrong in my view. You cannot go totally out-of-the-box, since you will obviously miss the target or deliver to a very small customer audience. However, extreme flexibility can cause a complexity on the implementation side, which can be good for few big implementations, but obviously won’t be productive for a mainstream. To find a good balance is a right option to go. It seems to me, PLM industry is still looking for this balance. Just my opinion.