5 critical factors for a successful PLM implementation

5 critical factors for a successful PLM implementation

There are different levels of PLM implementation complexity – long planning, budget overrun, customization delays. Tons of articles are written about how implement PLM and why a specific PLM platform can be better then others. Today I want to bring 5 factors that can help you to implement any PLM system.

1. Talk to end-users.

End user can be engineer responsible for design data management, program manager running ECO process or person responsible to integrate data between PDM and ERP system. What is important is to talk to people doing actual work and not IT people running infrastructure.

For most of manufacturing companies, the most influence about PLM implementation will come from engineering people running CAD / PDM systems and from manufacturing people using ERP software. You should ensure that you will talk to these two groups of people when you sell and implement PLM system. Otherwise, you will hit PLM hell level 1.

2. To develop on-boarding plan for end-users

I recently talk to a company that failed to convince users to get to PLM system and use it for process management. PLM workflow was pretty much done, but end-users voted against it leaving program and project managers in the position to get information from emails and put it to PLM system.

To insure, end users will agree to come to system is important. designers, CAD operators, manufacturing engineers, bill of material operators, procurement planners, sales, service, support and others. Focus on top 3- designers, manufacturing planners and sales. Once you have commitment from them, rest of users will come. Otherwise your PLM project is dead on arrival.

3. To have single person responsible for system roll-out.

To switch company from one process to another is a big project. You need to have enough control to do so. You have to have a control to shutdown existing system and replace it with a new one. You cannot do it by simply saying tomorrow don’t use old system and start using a new one.

In PLM world, it means to have control on 3D CAD files management, BOMs, ECO control and transfer to manufacturing. Whatever PLM system you deliver, these 4 elements should be controlled by a person responsible to bring a new system.

4. Education, politics and internal marketing.

Even the most carefully planned PLM implementation can go wrong if you won’t educate people what to do, establish relationships with people interested to bring system to life and tell enough good stories about success

In PLM, there are 5 most important topics to educate about 1/ how engineers and CAD designers store file, revisions and related data; 2/ how to speed up change process and to optimize ECO process; 3/ how to control product cost; 4/ how to deliver accurate BOM; 5/ how to provide support for sales and services. Focus on these topics and your PLM implementation will be successful.

What is my conclusion? PLM implementation is a very complex process. You should have enough PLM, engineering and manufacturing knowledge to orchestrate planning and execution of this process. Think about users, control PLM operation and do enough communication about right topics. It will garrantee your success and will prevent you from going to PLM implementation hell. 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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