PLM Implementations Challenges and 3 Organizational Lenses

PLM Implementations Challenges and 3 Organizational Lenses


It is not unusual to hear people speaking about PLM implementation and changes that need to be done in the organization. Very often, PLM vendors or implementers are calling this process business transformation, which is literally supposed to make a change in everything that related to product design, engineering, manufacturing, support and services.

So, to implement PLM is hard. I can admire the power of some PLM technologies. At the same time, to make customer implementing  and using them takes time and energy.  PLM vendors understand that. PLM service companies aimed to make implementation successful by understanding organizational specifics, adapting business processes and configuring PLM software.

It made me think about how PLM implementation challenges can be mapped on some fundamental organizational behaviors. Organizations are often inspected with 3 fundamental lenses: (1) strategic (2) political, and (3) cultural.

PLM and Strategic Lens

The strategic lens is the most often applied perspective. Under this lens, managers are looking how to optimize work and meet corporate goals. This lens is responsible for processes and procedures. This is a place where all benefits of PLM can shine. However, very often, the application of PLM strategic transformation is triggering significant organizational turbulence in everything that related to processes and procedures. People dislike the change as well as tend to spend lot of time discussing how to make an optimal strategic process alignment. It drives lots of confusion and can derails PLM implementation.

To map existing organizational processes can be a good starting point to overcome challenges that PLM implementation can face with changes of processes and procedures. A good approach can be to apply changes in the specific processes without changing whole organization in a single shot.

PLM and Political Lens

The political lens looks at the distribution of power and influence. This is one of the most complicated part. This is a part where organization is distributing power and authority. The major challenge for PLM is related to the need to cross organization silos. Organizational silos are distributing power by separating data, people and  responsibility. It is also separating IT stack and data ownership.

To bridge organizational silos can be a good way to optimize organizational behaviors and establish “political contracts”. PLM can be a factor that consolidate people and help them to turn organizational silos into “cylinders of excellence”.

PLM and Cultural Lens

This is probably the most unclear thing. It reflects underlying attitudes and beliefs. In many situation it reflects how culture and history of the company can affect their decisions. This is where you can expect lots of historical “PLM pitfalls” to happen. You need to understand the motives of people in power in order to be able to understand and predict their decisions. It will help you to influence them and increase PLM adoption.

What is my conclusion? Don’t ignore fundamental organizational structure and mechanisms. Strategic, Political and Cultural lenses can give you a good model to survive PLM implementation and make it successful for organization in all aspects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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