Should We Stop ‘Engineering PLM’?

Should We Stop ‘Engineering PLM’?

Even if PLM (as a buzzword, business strategy and software) has a relatively short history, we can talk about some historical roots. There are two main roots or directions in the historical development of PLM. One takes us to design companies, CAD, Engineering Data Management (EDM) and Product data management (PDM). Another one takes us to business systems like enterprise resource management (ERP), workflow and business process management (BPM). These two roots defined the way PLM systems were sold and implemented in many companies during the past decade. First direction used CAD and engineering foundation to establish an initial PLM implementation. ERP vendors were slow in introducing product lifecycle management solutions. Independent PLM companies were weak financially and because of traditional conflict for data-ownership lost the battle to more powerful CAD and ERP companies.

Recently, I started to hear more voices towards “a process foundation” of PLM. The combination of cost-effective platforms (open source, cloud) and increased sensitivity to ROI created the opportunity for new style of PLM implementations – faster, cheaper and… less engineering focus. The last one requires some additional explanation. For many years, the roots of PLM implementations go to engineering department. I can see many benefits in doing so. However, engineering foundation and engineering focus slower an adoption of PLM system by other departments. I’ve been reading Yoann Maingon Minerva blog called Stop starting PLM from Engineering. The main point is how to proliferate in PLM to non-engineering parts of an organization. I liked the following passage:

Start your implementation’s phase 1 out of engineering and you’ll get live much faster. These people need integrated systems and their processes are more stable then in engineering. We know that in engineering you can have very different software acceptance from one to another. You need then to have people in the company that are already supporting the project. The risk is of course to not take into account the software capabilities to support Engineer’s processes. And that’s where it is good to have IT people coming from Engineering to select the solution.

What is my conclusion? I can see lots of interesting opportunities in starting PLM from a business side and not engineering side. You can get results (and ROI) much faster. The industry matters, in my view. You can start PLM outside of engineering in companies heavily focusing on the supply chain, build to print processes, service organizations, process industries and others. I’d not be trying to start outside of engineering in companies focusing on ETO and large OEMs in automotive, defense and aerospace. Just my thoughts… What is your opinion and practices?

Best, Oleg


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