I want to step back and look on PLM development trends for the last 4-5 years. Cloud PLM was one of the most visible one. It came as a result of enterprise software consumerization – the trend that made lot of mature web and cloud technologies available for enterprise organization. The adoption of cloud technologies by PLM vendors is accelerating. It became clear that none of large PLM vendors is ready to leave such competitive advantage such as “cloud” to others.
Regardless on technological and product maturity, all PLM vendors today are providing some sort of “cloud PLM” today. Also, there are running debates about what is “real cloud” and what is “pseudo-cloud”. I can see some valid points in these discussions, especially when it comes to availability, browser support, upgrades and the most important element – cost. I don’t want to judge PLM vendors in their run for cloud tech for any cost. However, after dust will settle in cloud adoption process, vendor’s cost and infrastructure utilization will become of the most important competitive elements. They challenge for vendors will be to provide the most “economically reasonable” PLM solution.
I was thinking about first round of cloud PLM adoption. Let’s call it Cloud PLM 1.0 for this conversation. It made lot of good things – customers now can start implementing and using PLM without high upfront cost. It allows global access to information regardless on location, it removes customer challenges related to upgrades because vendor is essentially responsible for a solution and sell it to you as a service.
Do you think we live in PLM nirvana now? Not so fast… There is something cloud PLM cannot do for you. And it comes to the point of how to get PLM implemented for your company. Implementation of business processes is an interesting aspect of adopting PLM. In practice it means to define data structures and business processes. This process is essentially the same for both cloud and non-cloud PLM systems. Cloud based systems might have advantages related to the way system can be administrated. But, this is not something that impossible for non-cloud solution. It is all about people, processes and organizational changes. So, the ugly truth is that cloud PLM won’t reduce your need of implementation services. In case of on-premise PLM, implementation will be done on site and collaborate with IT – installing, configuring and debugging customized software. In case of cloud PLM, you will need to work with cloud PLM vendor or hosting provider.
Earlier today, I was reading Aras PLM whitepaper called – Is your PLM initiative stuck? Navigate to the following link to download a whitepaper. It speaks about top 10 typical ways your PLM initiative get “stuck”. There is one thing that struck me the most when I was reading this white paper. Majority of issues are clearly related to people in an organization that adopting and implementing PLM. Software vendors, service providers and consulting cannot solve this problem. You need to solve it in the interaction with customer. Here are some examples – poor planning, taking decision to automate everything because you can, the decision to take one giant implementation step, no long term vision, too long consulting stage with no “go live” moment, decision to implement fragmented “point” solution, etc.
What is my conclusion? People is the most complicated part in PLM paradigm we have today. Regardless on a specific PLM system, PLM implementation process is heavily dependent on people and sensitive to many things – ability of organization to understand their problems, internal organizational politics, building consensus within organization, aligning requirements between departments, divisions, suppliers and contractors. All together it creates a potential for implementation failure. How to solve this problem? Would it be a magic technology that will create a complete new paradigm for PLM? Maybe it will be a well defined blueprint for implementation that company can easy adopt? To remove PLM sensitivity to people factor is an interesting challenge PLM vendors will have to deal sooner than later. Just my thoughts…
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