PLM consulting, data chaos and future manufacturing networks

PLM consulting, data chaos and future manufacturing networks

PLM implementation projects can stuck. Unfortunately, it happens a lot. It is actually happens more often than you can think about. And the question about what to do next is not a simple one to answer. The popular opinion among PLM industry pundits – technology is not a problem, but people are the problem. So, to make PLM successful we need work with people. I like the idea in general, but I always wonder how it can be done. I found 2 examples to share with you.

Zerowaitstate blog – The PLM State TBT: Is Your PLM Implementation Stuck in Extended Adolescence? speaks about this problem. According to them, most of people companies are stuck to integrate multiple data silos together. So, company has a plan, but cannot execute. Here is the passage:

Many PLM implementations are stuck in extended adolescence, or Level 3, according to this excellent chart that I lifted off of Kalypso’s Website, a creation of Andreas Lindenthal. As you can see, data is generally decentralized prior to Level 4 of PLM maturity. It requires your employees to transfer product information into the PLM system, which is no easy task. People resist. The staff wants custom screens and forms and the engineers think they can quickly put it all in a spreadsheet. Getting people to put all of their product information in PLM is a bit like making a teenager clean his or her room every day. Sure, they know where everything is in the piles, but no one else does and no one else wants to go in there and look for it either!

PLM consulting people like to say that PLM is a journey. My long time blogging buddy Jos Voskuil has a great story about why there is no fast track for PLM implementation. According to him management cannot find an easy way in this journey and explain specific results in a reasonable terms. According to him, the only way to make it right is to strategize early from the beginning.

There is only one strategy that works for PLM, which is starting from a clear vision from the top (the target/destination) and the belief that the target needs to be reached by business people supported by IT. And in order to keep the business alive we will try to get closer and closer to the target, year by year: the journey approach. During the journey, various business needs and changes will be addressed as isolated but connected stages. Each stage should have its business targets and benefits. The advantage is that it is a learning experience where in every stage different business people are leading the subject. IT is always involved as the integrator of all stages.

The answer provided by ZerowaitState is even more interesting. Here is how they will try to implement the solution:

Zero Wait-State is currently working with a client to input all of their product information into PLM. We are building a full product structure, so all electrical, mechanical and software product information is vaulted. This represents a full item master in PLM. Because this organization is a new division, Zero Wait-State is assisting with building the internal best practices discipline from the start. The PLM users are able to absorb the ZWS methodology because they were involved in the definition of the solution during the conference room pilots and the user acceptance testing process.

Strategizing and building best practices is a good business consulting approach. It certainly will help to find many organizational problem. Still unclear how it will make PLM project unstuck. Strategy cannot work until it implemented using some software tools. ZWS idea sounds simple – trust us. We will come and make all the work for you. We will normalize data, convert old fashion Excels and Access databases into something better and make your life easier. It doesn’t say what technology they will use to store all converted data.

These two examples made me think about what is missing in this to eliminate PLM data management chaos. How to unstuck PLM project and move them forward. Similar to how you look for a good location for your modern data center, successful PLM implementation requires a reliable and cost effective data management platform. Such data management platform can become a backbone to store data, support collaboration, organize processes. You can tell me… hey this is what 3DEXPERIENCE, Teamcenter, Windchill and few others are about. Maybe… But all these platforms were built 20 years ago and almost didn’t change since that time.

What is my conclusion? The future of successful PLM implementations is dependent on an efficient source of data management technologies. The technologies that capable to withstand long implementation and maintenance cycle. The technologies capable to store and maintain data. The technology capable to keep, transfer and sharing information.The technology that will allow to PLM teenager to grow up. The technology capable to transform PLM data chaos. Without such technologies, PLM companies will stuck in data silos and implementation realities. 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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