Process Simplification – the next goal for PLM companies?

Process Simplification – the next goal for PLM companies?

It was a long time I didn’t talk about process management. The importance of process management is obvious. One of the main questions, companies are asking for is how to make process management more efficient and less complex. For the last 5-6 years, PLM companies put a lot of emphasizes behind the process improvement. Almost two years ago, I wrote – PDM vs. PLM: A process perspective. The ugly truth I discovered is that PLM vendors took “process orientation” as the next “sales tool”. It is much easier to explain what system does for organization using “process language”. At the same time, it is very complicated to provide a solution for efficient process management.

Most of PLM “process implementation” were about workflow and process tasks orchestration. One of the biggest challenges vendors are facing related to the level of process diversification in every company. Main element of process customization is actually the tool (process designer) you have at your disposal to define and manage processes. Some time ago, I posted – PLM processes: flowchart vs. rule-based. Take a look on this article, please. I’m bringing few examples how existing PLM solutions are solving “process and workflow” management challenges. Definition of a process in more traditional (flowchart way) can create multiple problems that preventing process management to be simplified. On the opposite side, rule based processes can get very complicated to understand and requires almost programming skils.

Lately, I found two examples of companies that working toward trying to simplify process management. One of them is PLM solution from Autodesk (Nexus PLM) introduced during AU 2011 last month. Second solution is related to a new company Kenesto.

Disclosure. I had a chance to speak with both Autodesk development team and Kenesto team about their solutions. Some of the information I have about these products cannot be disclosed in this blog because of NDA. I also advising Kenesto on PLM related topics.

Nexus PLM – simple, but insanely flexible

Slowly, but surely vendors are starting the understand the importance of the simplicity. However, in practice, it is very hard to understand how vendors plan to make it happen. About a month ago, I was watching a preview presentation about Autodesk Nexus PLM at AU 2011.  Here is a screen shot of the future Autodesk cloud PLM solution. Autodesk is focusing on simplification. It is still hard to make a conclusion about the level of tool simplicity. Nevertheless, you can make your prediction.

Kenesto – new kid in the block

This is a new company on the PLM horizon. Actually, Kenesto is not brand new. Back-roots of Kenesto take you to another “simple PLM” solution announced about two years ago PLM+. I had a chance to post about them – PLM plus user experience minus complexity on demand. When Kenesto website is still under construction, you can download and read Kenesto white paper. Here is what you can read in Kenesto white paper:

Kenesto starts with a design tool that anyone can use. Kenesto’s powerful process designer uses a universal (and simple) set of graphics to allow a user to rapidly tell the system what he or she wants it to do. The screen snippet below shows how easy it is for people across the enterprise to create and participate in very sophisticated processes.

It is hard to say from only seeing this picture what is the efficiency of Kenesto process designer. On the surface, you can think about some similarity with other process management tools. However, it is user experience that matters in such cases.

What is my conclusion? Process management simplification becomes a very important imperative for PLM vendors. If it is done right, it can provide a clear differentiation. Most of PLM systems have a decent process management foundation. However, the real question is how to combine it with an efficient user experience and right level of flexibility. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie. Kenesto and Autodesk didn’t pay me to write this post.

Picture by vichie81 /


Share This Post