The number of PLM vendors is small. Let’s sort out how to select the right one…

The number of PLM vendors is small. Let’s sort out how to select the right one…


Selecting of PLM solution is a daunting process that can take time and energy in the manufacturing company. How to choose the right system? My attention was caught by TechTarget articles written by Jim Brown – A PLM systems comparison of the industry’s top tools. Read the article and draw your opinion. I found the following passage important:

Despite my advice to be open to a lot of alternatives, I’m going to suggest that you work from constraints. Save yourself, your team, and your company time, money, and heartache by knowing whether there are “hard stops” that you might run into. There is nothing worse than getting a team excited about a solution only to find out that you can’t work with the vendor.

Hard stops to look for can be technical, political or corporate policy. Some companies have developed all-cloud strategies that require a vendor without a cloud strategy to be disqualified. The list will vary depending on your definition of a cloud solution, which is more than we have time to cover here, but it would certainly include cloud-only vendors like Autodesk and Arena Solutions. Other companies may have the opposite strategy and disallow cloud systems. Some businesses may have regulatory requirements like export regulations that some vendors don’t address, or policies that limit the country of origin of their software solutions. Ask your business sponsor and IT team if there are any landmines you should avoid.

It made me think about my earlier article – 7 rules for selecting PLM system in 2014. Few things changed since then. Large vendors pushed forward with their strategic development and expanded portfolio with strategic acquisitions. Cloud became more pervasive. Few new players added. So, how manufacturing company can make a decision about what PLM solution to choose?

As part of my consulting business last year, I was helping manufacturing companies to select PLM solutions. Here is the thing – if you work back from customer’s constraint and requirement, the number of solutions you can select from is going down from small to very limited number.

I can point out on 3 challenges you can face during the process.

1- CAD and PDM influence

It is easy to assume that CAD / PDM is a starting point for your PLM decision. In that case, assuming your company already made a decision about CAD, the selection of PLM provider and technology can stop here. Just call your CAD provider and ask to send people to sell you PLM solution. I suggest you won’t do it automatically, since it can lead to wrong strategic PLM decision.

2- To get confused about PLM cloud

Cloud became a huge buzzword in PLM eco-system. Everyone is now cloud enabled, true cloud, private cloud, public cloud, SaaS, etc. The devil of PLM cloud is in details and you better spend some time trying to qualify what is strategic path PLM vendor is taking with regards to cloud technologies and business models. Check my earlier articles.

3- Integration challenges.

Starting from constraints is important, but you can get overwhelmed by the amount of integration challenges in your current product environment. It can potentially lead you towards “the most flexible PLM infrastructure”. At the same time, remember that by spending some time and cleaning existing data and system landscape you can  simplify the requirements significantly.

What is my conclusion? One of the most interesting characteristic PLM vendors landscape is the number of vendors. It is small. In most of the cases, you will be selecting from 3 large PLM vendor and 2-3 additional suppliers. So, to get down to the list of 2 candidates is relatively easy. But then, you have to do some self-identification work to clean you requirements. To match your needs with a potential vendor is critical element of the decision process. This is how current PLM paradigm works. As you done with that, the selection of PLM vendor will be purely economical and personal relationships exercise. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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