Will PLM go back to a toolkit approach?

Will PLM go back to a toolkit approach?


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


Share This Post