PLM, Engineering processes and flat organizational structure

PLM, Engineering processes and flat organizational structure


Our information life is getting more complicated these days. The time when our digital channel was limited to our desktop computer gone forever. Streams of information are coming to us from every place – desktop computer (as much as we are coming to the desk), laptops, mobile devices and fast approaching us wearable devices. Info aiim article speaks about factors that heavily disrupting our information life – consumerization, mobile & cloud and changing of work nature (or flattening of hierarchies). The last one is something that caught me as something really important. Here is the passage I captured:

According to the, a flat organization is one “in which most middle-management levels and their functions have been eliminated, thus bringing the top management in direct contact with the frontline salespeople, shop floor employees, and customers.” The flattening of hierarchies is accelerated by consumerization and cloud and mobile technologies. In Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World, Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta, two professors at INSEAD, talk about how corporations are evolving from a traditional pyramid set-up to a much flatter network one. “Network organizations are generally characterized by informal trust networks,” the authors write. Their employees are “intrinsically motivated based on personal satisfaction…The advantage of network organizations is their adaptiveness and capacity to innovate when faced with change and uncertainty. . . . Network organizations, needless to say, are the habitat of Web 2.0 social media.” (quoted from Forbes, 2/2/2011).

Flattening of organizations made me think about engineering process management. What will happen with process management in new information world? Current process organization supported by many PLM system is way too complicated. In most of systems, workflow is a typical process model. Traditionally considered as something that can reflect organizational hierarchy and management, it becomes obsolete these days. Flat organization and direct people engagement can flatten workflow into simple list of tasks.

In one of my previous posts, I’ve been thinking about engineering task management as a combination of tasks and information context. In my view, this way of engineering (tasks) process organization is flat and much more simple compared to traditional “workflow” thinking. Navigate to my previous post to read more – PLM and Engineering Task Management. List of tasks can be easily shared and connected with social networking ecosystem and presented in the way familiar to all users of mobile applications.

What is my conclusion? Simplification. To eliminate unnecessarily complexity will become the next step in improvement of PLM solutions. It will help to improve PLM adoption in organization. Lists and social networks is the way to make process implementation easier and align it with flat organizational structure. Note to PLM software architects and PLM managers in manufacturing organizations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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