To select a PLM system is not a simple task. A few years ago, I shared the article – How to avoid PLM software selection mousetrap. There are many aspects of the selection process – technology, organization, vendor, etc. After all, for most organizations, PLM decision is something that is done for a long period of time.
Earlier this week, my attention was caught by the article – PLM selection processes are failing: Here is why that is a major problem to the industry
Leon Lauritsen of Minerva, Aras service and consulting partner is concerned about the selection process, in which is according to him, the winner is chosen before the match is started.
They are like theatrical performances where it seems to be a competition between software vendors and implementation partners, but where the winner has been chosen before the match has started. You are welcome to challenge me, but I stand firmly convinced of that fact.
Different PLM vendors are given the opportunity to present how their solution could solve the challenges for the company. But every time I read the list of requirements that the PLM system should live up to, I usually sense that something is not right. It is like the list have been written to fit a certain vendor, or even worse, has been written by a vendor for the company.
I can see Leon’s point – by choosing the right criteria, it is easy to say that a vendor A has this feature and vendor B doesn’t. I’ve seen such “games” when competitive intelligence is presenting product positioning. But this is marketing and internal company “kitchens”. How it can happen in a manufacturing company that is looking to make the right choice. Does it mean somebody is deliberately selecting a “known” vendor? What can be a motivation for such a decision?
It made me think again about the selection and benchmarking process and try to find reasons beyond blaming companies in doing bad job.
1- Knowledge is limited
The competition is tough and it is really hard to get non-biased information about a specific vendor, product, solution or just answer a question. I can see it by a large number of questions I’m getting online and offline on Beyond PLM.
2- Mistakes are very expensive
The cost of PLM mistakes is significant. Selecting the wrong vendor or solution can lead to losing a job or risking a next career step. In large enterprise PLM implementations, the decision about a specific vendor can easily lock company for 5-10 years. So, companies are looking for trust.
3- Nobody ever got fired from buying “IBM”.
Finally, this is still true. Trust and brand is an important element of the decision process. Decision-makers are looking for many aspects such as company sustainability, personal connections, brand names, etc.
What is my conclusion? The biggest challenge (not a problem) of PLM industry is status quo. Enterprise PLM decision process is very conservative and leads to a specific sub-optimal outcome. I can see Leon’s disappointment. By representing Aras Corp. Minerva is looking at how to displace existing established PLM vendors and this is not a simple process. Decision-makers are conservative and looking for somebody how can help them to decide. And this is a place where companies can thrive. The recipe is simple – reduce polished marketing decks and statements, take tone down and speak to users, look for trusted advisors. Software openness is another way to solve the problem or at least to help companies to make the right choice. Just my thoughts…
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.