Will PLM go back to a toolkit approach?

Will PLM go back to a toolkit approach?

new-plm-toolkit

The debates about “out-of-the-box” OOTB PLM implementations seems to be endless. I posted many articles sharing opinion about OOTB PLM approach. You can read some of them  – The end of debates about out of the box PLM and 2 options for future out-of-the-box PLM. The opinions are very polarized. PLM vendors (usually) are very much advocating for out of the box approach and so called “PLM best practices”. And users often call out of the box “a slippery slope leading to customized solution”.

My attention was caught by an interesting video. Navigate to DFM Summit website outlining next event in London on June 1st, 2017. The link to the video Next-generation PLM ‘starting to break down walls against the big boys’  presents an interview (or maybe presentation) by Neil Morby PLM Sales lead for EMEA for Infor.

The following passage is unusual for traditional PLM vendors:‘ People have tried to make PLM an off-the-shelf product, but that is very difficult to do,’ Morby says. ‘It’s a toolkit.’

If you’ve been long time in PLM industry, you probably recall that PDM and PLM have started as toolkits. Actually, it was an expensive toolkit only large companies can afford to buy and implement. Neil’s statement made me think about possible trajectories of PLM development in the next few years.

PLM as a toolkit. PLM vendors will give up on developing packaged solutions and focused on providing toolkits to be used by consulting and service companies. My hunch, this is an approach Infor is advocating for. Let others to decide how to deliver PLM to companies. It can be part of overall “business transformation” agenda to turn PLM into an expensive consulting tool. Read more here.

PLM cloud web apps. The idea of OOTB will be transformed into set of “granular” web components capable to provide a specific function (service) to manufacturing companies. Current approach taking by PLM vendors is to mostly to move existing PLM products to the cloud by hosting using IaaS platforms or private and public hosting providers. Future development of cloud web apps can lead to building re-usable self-configured OOTB apps.

What is my conclusion? The balance between OOTB and toolkit approach is though for PLM vendors. After 10+ years of pushing to provide ready to go applications, industry focused suites and accelerators, some vendors are ready to give up and try something new. PLM as a toolkit can probably work for large accounts and service teams with significant implementation budgets and resources. Will it solve a problem of small manufacturing companies, machines shops, individual contractors? It seems like to toolkit is not for them. Does it mean we are coming into crisis of PLM vision? This is a good question to ask PLM architects and industry pundits. 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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  • Jeppe Sörensen

    I like what Mr Neil Morsby says. To me, PLM has always been something that you approach with various toolkits depending on the customers needs. Also, I think that lots of small companies are very much front runners. Many need to create lots of automation in their PLM solutions, to keep ahead of the competition. We both worked with SmarTeam, which was a great toolkit (with some flaws…), and they were tormented into being an OOTB solution, and trying to forge a small company into an OOTB solution has *never* been a success. Today, toolkits are getting better and better, and so are we, the implementors. Buy your PLM system from someone able to create great highly automated solutions, and pray that your competitors buys OOTB.
    Then you will be miles ahead.

  • beyondplm

    Jeppe, thank you for your comment! I can clearly share some of your sentiments back to my SmarTeam time, product and OOTB product creations on top of SmarTeam product. I learned bunch of things there and later at Dassault. The technologies are getting better. APIs are becoming simpler to develop and flexibility is easier to achieve. Which means a lower cost of toolkit. Would be very interested to discuss with you. Best, (my email – oleg @openbom dot com )