What PLM industry can learn from… Hollywood?

What PLM industry can learn from… Hollywood?


I’ve been reading a blog Getting PLM right: no one answer by Monica Schnitger. It is a slick writeup started from one of the most popular questions in PLM community – Why it makes my head hurt when I think I need/want/cloud use/maybe should think about PLM implementations? Monica speaks about why PLM creates so many problems that just thinking about that makes you feel bad. The core issue is simple – engineering and manufacturing is very individual. Each PLM project is different and it is hard to create or even think about “standard PLM implementation”. Although, I guess, some vendors will disagree with me and will try to sell you out-of-the-box PLM implementations. Here is the passage explaining the uniqueness of PLM implementations:

The concept of product lifecycle management, that you track many aspects of your product from inception through design to making to servicing to retiring/replacing — that’s common. After that, every case is unique. Also unique to each company contemplating PLM is its motivation. Do you have a specific quality problem? Need to better communicate with suppliers? Or are you trying to create a major corporate shift (“we want to be #1 or #2 in our industry”) and want to use PLM as a lever to re-examine old processes and shake things up? Each of these is a great reason for PLM, but everything downstream from that decision will be different.

A very nice video at the end of the article give you a perspective on modern trends in PLM implementations time and cost. Watch brilliant spoof by Jim Brown about new PLM tech called SprayON. Just spray PLM on your problem and it is over! Nice…  More seriously, you can learn how modern cloud PLM products and technologies can create a new reality in PLM implementations in terms of effort, time and resources. To conclusion is simple – since cloud PLM can be instantaneously at your disposal, use it for a specific project first to get it done, show results, prove a value and move the next projects. This is great way to make PLM easier. However, PLM implementations are still hard and there are things that cloud PLM cannot do for you.

My thoughts about potentially magical new way to implementation PLM, took me to…. Hollywood. Have you heard about business approach called Hollywood Model in business? Navigate to the following NY Times magazine article – What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Future of Work. The basic idea of Hollywood model is pretty simple. A project can be done by a team of professionals available on demand and assembled together for a specific period of time with the goal to make it happen and deliver the result. Here the passage, which explains that.

This approach to business is sometimes called the “Hollywood model.” A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands. This short-­term, project-­based business structure is an alternative to the corporate model, in which capital is spent up front to build a business, which then hires workers for long-­term, open-­ended jobs that can last for years, even a lifetime. It’s also distinct from the Uber-­style “gig economy,” which is designed to take care of extremely short-­term tasks, manageable by one person, typically in less than a day.

With the Hollywood model, ad hoc teams carry out projects that are large and complex, requiring many different people with complementary skills. The Hollywood model is now used to build bridges, design apps or start restaurants. Many cosmetics companies assemble a temporary team of aestheticians and technical experts to develop new products, then hand off the actual production to a factory, which does have long-­term employees. (The big studios, actually, work the same way: While the production of the movie is done by temps, marketing and distribution are typically handled by professionals with long-­term jobs.) 

Of course, there are lot of differences between movie production and manufacturing. But if you think more, you might think about it a bit differently. Especially if you look over the growing number of open source hardware projects, hardware startups, and other manufacturing initiatives. According to Ben Einstein of BoltVC in Boston, you can assemble hardware team of 8 people to create a new product. Read more here . The team will be working with many contractors in design, engineering, manufacturing and related fields to bring product to life. And remember, despite the fact hardware is still hard, there are many examples of small teams created hugely successful products.

In my earlier article Why PLM should revise NPI process?, I’ve been talking how future is shifting towards agile manufacturing processes and  why PLM systems should revise the idea of structured workflow process as a fundamental approach to manage engineering and manufacturing process. I think, this is where future will take us. By the way, I didn’t find a hint on workflow processes in NY Times article about Hollywood production.

What is my conclusion? Cloud PLM is a step in the right direction. To remove a burden of hardware, installations and coding for customization is absolutely important. At the same time, it is tough to think about PLM as a life changing event for manufacturing company. Nobody likes the change and it is painful to get it (even with help of PLM consultants). But industry is changing. Manufacturing is shifting towards different organizational models. Mass production, large investments, big factories and long product lifecycle are going to be a thing in the past. Flat organizations, agile teams, pulling experience, ideas, skills, money and customers on demand – this is a way to think about future of manufacturing. The processes and software to manage it will change too. A note for software vendors, engineering IT managers and PLM practitioners…  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit NYTimes article. Illustration by Andrew Rae.


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