3 reasons PDM implementation can cost you more than you expected

3 reasons PDM implementation can cost you more than you expected


Engineers don’t like PDM (product data management) and consider it as an unnecessarily evil. At the same time, complexity of data in engineering environment is skyrocketing. Companies are losing time and money on searching and organizing engineering data. As a result, many manufacturing companies are looking how better organize engineering and product data. PDM eventually has the answer. However, it often comes with cost and complexity.

Tech-clarity article and animation Getting started with PDM sponsored by Siemens PLM. According to Jim Brown,

It’s part of a series of animations we’ve done to help companies understand the business value of PDM, recognize the choices they have for different styles of PDM systems, and learn how they can start fast without painting themselves into a corner.

I’m in agreement with the idea of expandable PDM. But my attention was actually caught by the following two slides presenting duration and price of PDM implementations. According to Jim Brown,

the research on the cost of PDM was not conducted by Siemens. It was a survey executed by Tech-Clarity. 



Just think about the numbers – 8 of 10 companies need to spend more than 1 month to implement PDM and more than 50% of companies need to spend at least $50K before it will happen. After many years, PDM is remaining an expensive project. I didn’t find numbers about PDM projects going out of planned budget, so if you have one – please share.

These numbers made me think about what are potential reasons to spend more than you expect on PDM project. I came with top 3 reasons I’ve seen in many companies.

1. Data is not centralized

In most of PDM implementation, the first tasks is centralize data that potentially can be scattered across multiple locations – desktop computers, remote drives, shared network location. These are typical places. IT people are usually surprised how much information lives in cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and others these days. To collect all the data and make it available and import into PDM system is a bigger task that you can think about.

2. Specific CAD versions are not supported

Engineering projects have long lifecycle and it is not an unusual thing that data is produced by multiple CAD systems with different versions. A potential problem can be caused by incompatibility between PDM and specific CAD software versions. It might require additional development services.

3. You messed up with data mapping between CAD and PDM

This one is a potentially biggest sucker of resources. As we know, everything works during demos. However, when you bring real data to PDM system is the time when rubber hits the road. CAD files are full of custom data that needs to transferred to PDM. It is not trivial process and in many situations you might have a significant expense to make alignment between PDM systems and your data.

What is my conclusion? To implement PDM is still an expensive project. Existing desktop CAD were created to store data using files systems and never been prepared to support data management systems. Therefore PDM implementations are painful. You can avoid some problems, but you cannot eliminate it completely. Every PDM implementation is a compromise between complexity of CAD files and databases. New generation of cloud CAD data management systems will have to rethink the way data is managed by eliminating files from data management process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

[Update 29-Sep-2016] this blog was updated following the comment made by Jim Brown. 

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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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