Are you reading whitepapers these days? Hmm… Not much you can say, probably. I’m reading blogs, twitter streams and use Flipboard app. I think, whitepapers are getting into a crisis similar to publishing industry. It is not as popular as IBM Redbooks 10 years ago. PLM whitepapers are interesting in particular. Very often, whitepapers are sponsored by vendors and, as a result of this, lose their attractiveness. You still can learn from them, but the scale is limited by the commitment of an author to a specific vendor(s). Another class of whitepapers are presenting research made by analyst or research firm. These whitepapers are interesting from the standpoint of learning data, but also can be limited.
I’ve been reading Razorleaf’s whitepaper Achievable PLM by Jonathan Scott. The following link will give you an access to the whitepaper in exchange of your email and phone number. Razorleaf is a business outfit focusing on PLM services without much focus on what vendor, product, technology to use. Take few minutes coming weekend and read the whitepaper. I found the following part of the whitepaper the most important to me. It helps customers to identify company and product development processes to be supported by a PLM system. It defines 3 main processes that you can find almost in every manufacturing company – NPD / NDPI, ECO/ECN/ECR and CM/BOM. Here is the passage from whitepaper:
Do you have a process for dreaming up new products and turning them into something that can be made? Formally, some people call this New Product Development & Introduction (NPD or NPDI).
Do you have a process for changing the design of existing products to fix problems that you or your customers discover, and to improve your product so that more people will buy it? Many people call this Engineering Change Management (ECx) and there can be numerous subprocesses like Engineering Change Request (ECR), Engineering Change Order (ECO), and Engineering Change Notification (ECN).
Do you have a process for describing the “recipe” for your product, the list of ingredients/components that go together to make up your product? People in defense -related industries have been calling this Configuration Management (CM) for years, but a lot of other industries think of it as Bill-Of-Material (BOM) Management.
It made me think about new type of PLM whitepapers focusing on helping customers to identify their product development processes. That would be a different set of whitepapers. Think about that as a collection of process recipes. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to processes related to product development in manufacturing companies. To have multiple options and viewpoints could be very beneficial if you are implementing PLM.
What is my conclusion? Content is a critical element these days. Whitepaper is an important type of content, in my view. You need to have a good content to drive attention. It seems to me, a good PLM whitepapers can play two important roles – drive traffic to the websites of PLM vendors and service providers, but most importantly – to change the way customer perceive PLM implementations by providing practical information and guidance about PLM-related processes. Just my thoughts…