Will companies abandon PLM workflow idea?

Will companies abandon PLM workflow idea?


Process is one of the fundamental elements in existing product lifecycle system. Most of existing PLM systems are build around two concepts: product date and process implementation. The latest is heavily relies on a variety of workflow-like systems helping manufacturing companies to route information and changes between engineering and business owners.

To implement PLM workflows is hard. Read more here. I’ve been sharing my thoughts and questions related to PLM workflows.

Surprisingly, the technology of workflow is not very sophisticated. Just think about ‘state machine’. It is easy to implement. It can be a bit complicated to scale, but good software engineers can solve that too. There are many available workflow apps available.

Things are getting more tricky when you actually need to create a specific workflow. This is where some aspect of workflow, such as friendly user interface can shine and provide you some advantages. However, the biggest effort in implementation of workflows is related to capturing of actual data and process from people (or organization) you are making workflow for.

At the same article I asked if the time came “to kill PLM workflow dream”.The cost to implement workflows is high and the effort required from customer is huge. It also creates a set of inflated expectations. The trick to implement good workflows is mostly dependent on the person capturing data model and process needs from a customer. And it is hard, painful and unpredictable, which leaves almost no space to make your customer happy.

My attention was caught by CIO article – Report: CIOs neglect BPM in favor of trendier software by TEC principal analyst Jorge Garcia.  The article speaks about modern trends related to BPM software. BPM is not a technology CIOs are looking for today.

With the rush into data analytics and other hot technologies, business process management (BPM) systems don’t get much attention these days. That’s a missed opportunity, according to a Technology Evaluation Centers report.

You need to register to access the report. I did and captured an interesting passage about new trend of developing BPM applications.


TEC report doesn’t say much why process-based apps will be better than workflows. I found the following diagram in the report that can give you some ideas.


The speed of deployment combined with mobile and cloud trends are killing existing workflow paradigms designed for single application and single company logic. The reality of modern cloud and mobile world is different.

What is my conclusion? Workflows are tough. The development speed of workflow-driven applications is questionable and, with no surprise, CIOs are looking for a better way to deal with process improvement. Process-based app can  be an interesting trend to discover for PLM vendors. Some of readers can come and say that existing PLM suites are process-based apps. Fair enough. From marketing standpoint- you are right. But look under the hood and you will see old routing of processes and workflows on top of product data. This is something that is going to change sooner than later. Otherwise, existing PLM process suites won’t survive. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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