PLM Selection Politics

PLM Selection Politics


Nobody ever got fired for buying from IBM. That was the story of enterprise PLM software for many years. PLM selection process is typically long and require some level of alignment between software vendor and company itself. Last few years of growth in manufacturing and fast growing number of alternative SaaS software, made people in IT departments to watch more carefully their decision making. ROI is still a big deal for PLM implementations. The selection of traditional PLM system will be a decision that influence what manufacturing company will do for the next 5-10 years. So, the selection is not simple.

TEC blog What We Need to Talk about When We Talk about Software Selection gives you a perspective on 5 Problem Areas – Objectivity, Politics, Partnerships, Expectations, Limitations.

Here is my favorite passage about Politics:

We need to recognize when people are playing each other.  Politics manifests itself in social interactions; individuals attempt to influence other people (more or less consciously) in order to obtain a personal benefit. The psychiatrist Eric Berne described these “mind games” in his book Games People Play. His theory is that people adopt three ego states during social interactions—adult, parent, or child—and negative behaviors are caused by the fact that we unconsciously choose to act as children or parents, and not as adults. An example would be an executive who acts as a parent by taking decisions without involving others, which may trigger a childish reaction from the employees such as emotional outbursts or blind obedience. But we should all try to be grown-ups when undertaking a serious business like enterprise software selection.

It made me think about specific reasons why PLM selection might be politically sensitive for the organization. Here is my 3 reasons:

1. PLM is controlling an important information about product and processes in organization. It has a potential to influence how people work in an entire organization by setting rules, policies and process to access data. The last has an impact on how engineering and other organization will perform.

2. Traditional PLM is a very expensive system and it means that PLM organization is responsible for a significant chunk of IT budget. This budget allows to brings contractors, service organizations and consultants. Big budget is good for organizational influence and gives a feeling of importance.

3. PLM is very sticky and once implemented successfully will stay in organization for a very long time. A successful PLM selection can give a sense of job security to people involved into selection and implementation process. It is also a reflection of right strategic decisions taken by PLM key decision makers.

Manufacturing companies are looking for SaaS software to change enterprise software status quo. Cloud services are more agile and can reduce IT burden for an organization. Easy access to software and agile  methods can simplify the process of PLM selection by introducing iterative implementation process.

What is my conclusion? As much as PLM selection process is strategic, I believe new PLM cloud technologies can bring a change. Agile PLM development is possible starting point in the process. The main point is to switch from PLM as a decision for 10 years to PLM as s service today. Existing PLM architecture demand significant preparation work to be done upfront – data modeling, process discovery and agreement, data mapping, legacy data cleaning and importing, etc. The new paradigm of agile continues implementation can become a better way to organize PLM planning as well as PLM selection process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

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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