ROI of PLM is not measurable. To sell PLM you need to create a myth. This statement of Jos Voksuil caught my attention a few weeks ago. In his recent article, PLM Myth-perception Jos went all way down explaining the irrational behavior of PLM decision-makers, human behavior, and the complexity of PLM. His main conclusion – you cannot translate PLM business strategy in a set of features and functions. The conclusion of the article is another recommendation to use Myths to package a business case. Here is his final passage.
PLM is a mix of governance, optimized processes to guarantee quality and collaboration, combined with a methodology to tune the existing processes implemented in tools that allow people to be confident and efficient. You cannot translate a business strategy into a function-feature list for a tool.
Myths are part of the human social alignment of large groups of people. If a Myth is true or false, I will judge. You can use the Myth as an envelope to package your business case. The business case should always be a combination of new ways of working (organizational change), optimized processes and finally, the best tools. A PLM tool-only business case is to my opinion far from realistic.
PLM Myths packaging reminded me of communism – a theory that packaged a very inefficient economic organization as a bright future for all people. The Soviet Union is the best example – the country that supposed to demonstrate the business case or centralized planning but failed miserably. PLM sold as a myth will fast become PLM communism. Here is my definition of PLM based on myths.
PLM based on myths is a philosophical, social, and technological theory, ideology and movement derived from PDM, advocating a single version of the truth and leading to an environment in which all data is collectively owned and each person gets access to the data according to their role and needs.
Such vision (or myth) of PLM was sold much time to many organizations in the past. It sounds great but unfortunately, it won’t work.
At the same time, a good business case actually can work. A good business case doesn’t require a “packaging”. It just works. Production planning delivery on time just works. Cost management delivering a product with projected cost just works. Early visibility of BOM in the production can save money and allow us to make orders for long-lead items. Profit can be measured. Time to introduce ECO and measure sales schedule can be measured. Why do we need to “package” it with myths? It remains unclear…
Going back to my article about how to stop selling PLM myths, I suggest that PLM in the 2020s will stop relying on the packaging and will bring a specific business case relying on data, analytics, connectivity of physical and virtual products, financial and business results. To sell these business cases, they need to have a clear description of “Before” and “After” state as well as social proof and description of a mechanism that can make it happen.
What is my conclusion?
PLM in 2020 should grow beyond PLM myths. Myths selling projects are usually a PLM hardball played by a strong visionary in a company. It can work but has a high probability to fail. This person typically packaging “a gut feeling” into the PLM vision agenda and sell it to management. Opposite to this approach, the easiest way to sell PLM is to bring a solution that actually works. There are plenty of examples of PLM successes. And new cloud technologies allowing to deliver PLM features on-demand won’t require myths – they are real. You can create an account and try them. We don’t need to create a myth to describe why replacing a file and email chaos with cloud-based data management and real-time collaboration. We just need to prove the system can work and deliver results. We don’t need to create a myth to sell an easy way to calculate the product cost and compare it with the cost of the prototype and a projected cost of high volume production. We don’t need to create a myth to sell a system to deliver accurate design data automatically to the product floor and list of parts that need to be purchased to the procurement department. I think businesses should move beyond the art of selling PLM Myths and move to the software solving business problems and data confirming the results. 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.