Winning PLM Arguments and Crafting a Successful PLM Strategy for Your Organization

Winning PLM Arguments and Crafting a Successful PLM Strategy for Your Organization

For the last 10-15 years, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has emerged as a critical component for organizations to control product development process, support people communication and manage engineering and product data. The vision of PLM to connect people from ideation to end-of-life, PLM strategies streamline multiple organizational processes such as engineering release and change management, enhance design collaboration, and optimize engineering to manufacturing processes. The goal of the PLM implementation is ultimately driving innovation and market success for manufacturing business.

As much as I’ve seen PLM implementations and vision growing during past 1-2 decades, I also can see how PLM implementation can be a challenging step, it is not always straightforward. A company that decides to embark on PLM journey, requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and persuasive arguments to gain buy-in from stakeholders. I’ve seen situations when companies went to months and sometimes even years of debates to agree about PLM vision and strategy. For many companies it was a bloody and messy process.

In my blog today, I want to explore to navigate PLM discussions effectively, win arguments, and develop a robust PLM strategy tailored to your organization’s needs.

Understanding the Importance of PLM

PLM can drive controversy in an organization. There are different reasons for that. Some of them are related to old school people that still remember how easy and simple life was without 3D CAD software and 2D drawings. Some others are related to the process of change management in organizations that often look like that.

One of my favorite quote about people and changes is that “technologies are easy, but people are hard”

Therefore, before diving into arguments and strategies, it’s crucial to understand why PLM matters.

At its core, PLM encompasses the management of a product’s entire lifecycle, from conception to disposal. This includes aspects such as design, manufacturing, distribution, and maintenance. By providing a data management tools to capture and manage data, PLM technologies and systems fosters efficiency, agility, and innovation, enabling organizations to bring high-quality products to market faster and at lower costs.

However, the process of making decision and building PLM strategies is not simple. How to make this process easier and how to win PLM arguments?

5 Ways of Winning PLM Arguments

There are many definitions of PLM in the industry. I like to differentiate between PLM strategy and PLM software. When you need to decide about PLM in your organization it is always important to separate these two:

  • PLM strategy
  • PLM software system

Here are 5 important steps that can help you to decide about PLM strategy:

Focus on Business Value: Start by articulating how PLM aligns with broader business objectives. Highlight its potential to reduce time-to-market, improve product quality, and enhance customer satisfaction. Emphasize the competitive advantage gained through streamlined processes and faster innovation cycles.

Address Pain Points: Identify specific pain points within your organization’s current product development lifecycle. Whether it’s inefficient collaboration, data silos, or compliance challenges, demonstrate how PLM can address these issues effectively. Use real-world examples or case studies to illustrate the impact of PLM implementation.

Quantify ROI: Make a compelling financial case for PLM by quantifying its return on investment (ROI). Calculate potential cost savings, revenue growth, and risk mitigation associated with PLM adoption. Present this data in a clear, concise manner to illustrate the tangible benefits of investing in PLM.

Highlight Industry Trends: Reference industry trends and benchmarks to underscore the importance of PLM in staying competitive. Showcase how leading organizations leverage PLM to drive innovation, adapt to market changes, and capitalize on emerging opportunities. Position PLM as a strategic imperative rather than a discretionary investment.

Engage Stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders early in the discussion to garner support and address concerns proactively. Solicit input from cross-functional teams, including engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and IT, to ensure alignment and collaboration throughout the PLM implementation process.

Moving from PLM Strategy to PLM software and technologies

Once you’ve successfully built the strategy and won the argument for PLM, it’s time to develop a comprehensive strategy for implementation.

Here are 6 key steps to consider:

  1. Assess Current State: Conduct a thorough assessment of your organization’s current product development processes, technology infrastructure, and organizational capabilities. Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) to inform your PLM strategy. I recommend, at this stage to make collection of all data assets that you need to capture in organization to support a successful PLM strategy.
  2. Define Objectives and End State: Clearly define the objectives and goals of your PLM initiative. Determine what success looks like for your organization, whether it’s reducing time-to-market, increasing product quality, or improving collaboration across teams and departments. It is important to have an end state in mind (even if the road will include multiple steps)
  3. Select the Right PLM Technology: Evaluate PLM software from multiple vendors that align with your organization’s requirements, budget, and IT infrastructure. Consider factors such as scalability, flexibility, ease of integration, and vendor reputation when selecting a PLM platform. Keep in mind that modern PLM software providers should support an easy mechanism to try product data management and product lifecycle management systems and to check how they fit business processes.
  4. Develop a Roadmap (Phases): This is one of the most critical steps. To create a phased implementation roadmap outlining key milestones, timelines, and resource requirements. Prioritize initiatives based on their impact and feasibility, and establish metrics to track progress and measure success. The key element in development of PLM implementation phases is related to isolation of the data that can be captured by new processes and integrating of new technology with processes that still exists and used in the organization.
  5. Promote Change Management and Support People: Recognize that implementing PLM entails organizational change. Provide training and support to employees to ensure they understand the benefits of PLM and how it affects their roles and responsibilities. Foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation to sustain PLM success over the long term.
  6. Monitor and Adapt: Regularly monitor the performance of your PLM system and adapt your strategy as needed to address evolving business needs and market dynamics. Solicit feedback from users and stakeholders to identify areas for optimization and enhancement.
  7. Connect key stakeholders to the process: Make key organizational stakeholders part of the implementation process. Report results and achievements on each phase and step of the implementation.

The downside of a failed PLM strategy

What if a company decides “not to decide” about PLM. I’ve seen it as well. For those companies I prepared five major pain points that organizations may encounter if they do not transition to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM):

Inefficient Data Management: Without PLM, organizations often struggle with fragmented data management systems, leading to data duplication, version control issues, and difficulty accessing critical information. This inefficiency can hinder decision-making, slow down product development cycles, and increase the risk of errors and rework.

Limited Collaboration and Communication: Without a centralized PLM platform, collaboration and communication among cross-functional teams become challenging. Siloed workflows and disparate tools hinder collaboration, leading to miscommunication, delays in approvals, and disjointed product development processes. This lack of alignment can result in missed opportunities, quality issues, and decreased innovation.

Poor Visibility and Traceability: Organizations without PLM may face difficulties in tracking product changes, managing dependencies, and maintaining traceability throughout the product lifecycle. This lack of visibility into product data, processes, and requirements increases the risk of errors, compliance issues, and product recalls. Without a comprehensive audit trail, organizations may struggle to identify the root cause of problems and implement corrective actions effectively.

Ineffective Change Management: Without PLM, organizations often struggle to manage changes effectively across the product lifecycle. Manual change processes, lack of transparency, and inadequate change control mechanisms can result in delays, confusion, and resistance to change. This leads to inefficiencies, cost overruns, and missed market opportunities as organizations struggle to adapt to evolving customer needs and market trends.

Competitive Disadvantage: In today’s fast-paced and competitive market, organizations that fail to adopt PLM risk falling behind their competitors. Without the ability to streamline processes, innovate rapidly, and deliver high-quality products efficiently, organizations may struggle to meet customer expectations, capture market share, and sustain long-term growth. This competitive disadvantage can impact profitability, brand reputation, and ultimately, the viability of the business in the digital age.


In my view, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is no longer a luxury but a necessity for organizations looking to drive innovation, efficiency, and growth. By effectively articulating the benefits of PLM, addressing stakeholders’ concerns, and developing a robust implementation strategy, you can position your organization for success in the digital age. However, the reality is that many organizations are still in the process of learning and understanding how to introduce digital technologies like PLM in their organizations.

Remember, winning PLM arguments and building a successful PLM strategy requires vision, collaboration, and a relentless focus on delivering value to your customers and stakeholders. The outcome of successful PLM implementation is a fundamental change in the product companies are taking care of product data management, supply chain, document management, and overall manufacturing process management. It changes how companies designing and building products, capturing customer feedback and integrating computer aided design, project management, data sharing. For a longer term, it is a process that open the road for machine learning, AI and allows to companies to stay with up today information about every aspect of products.

Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital-thread platform with cloud-native PDM & PLM capabilities to manage product data lifecycle and connect manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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