Digital Transformation and PLM Workflow 2.0

Digital Transformation and PLM Workflow 2.0

The last month of social distancing and remote work demonstrated the unprecedented change force on everyone to work online and to use digital tools. Systems like Zoom, Microsoft Team, Slack and some others demonstrated a surge in usage. Here is just one example – Microsoft Teams hits 44M daily active users, spiking 37% in one week amid remote work surge.

Microsoft Teams is seeing massive user growth as remote work becomes the norm amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The chat, collaboration and video conferencing app saw its daily active user count rise more than 37 percent over the past week, from 32 million to 44 million users around the world. During that time, Microsoft also signed up six additional large business customers with more than 100,000 users each.

But the key passage is this one –“We’re going to look back and realize that this is when it all changed,” he said. “We’re never going to go back to working the way we did.”

So, the change is here and it is now. This is the time to ask ourselves how it will impact the way product development and manufacturing processes are organized. PLM was a long time around with the concept of Workflows. The workflow was a dream and a nightmare of every PLM implementation I’ve seen. Always presented as a huge advantage, workflow mechanisms usually struggle with the complexity of adoption and changes. Check some of my previous articles

Why is it hard to implement PLM Workflow (); PLM Workflow – a balance between value and complexity and PLM Workflow and Agile.

Possible usage of tools like Slack, Teams, and others in product development was debated a long time, but without much success. So, what is changing now? The big difference is the switch to asynchronous communication and processes that coming very fast. The change is forced by remote work. Before, it was relatively easy to create a real meeting with people in your team and organization. The things instantly moved to Video calls imitating real meetings, but here is the thing-  the realization that work can be done while people are exchanging chat messages is appealing as a very convenient option.  Everyone sitting in a single chat or “channel” in Slack or other tools, can get an opportunity to read questions and answer. You can think communication is becoming slower, but if you accept it, you can think about actually tons of meeting time saved and people improving efficiency. Also, all these processes are automatically documented by people using it.

Here is my picture that describes the evolution of communication- (1) same place, (2) same time meeting, (3) sample place text messages, asynchronous chat, and (4) team multi-channel workflow.

What is my conclusion?

New digital technologies to organize future PLM workflows are almost here. These days, we are in the middle of a gigantic shift and evolution of digital process tools. The meeting is less efficient and very old fashion. Old PLM workflows introduced a complex and steep jump from CCB meeting convos to the formal processes. These days, we are moving to a new formation of digital processes with the foundation of asynchronous processes and structured data context to make it the most efficient. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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