Yesterday, I had the chance to see two deliveries from Jim Brown related to PLM for mid-size companies. ENOVIA SmarTeam Express PLM Solutions Help Mid-Market featuring Jim’s white paper – Tech-Clarity Insight: Innovating Through an Economic Downturn and Jim’s blog interview One-to-One: TeamCenter Express – Expressly for Small to Midsize Manufacturers. Inspired by Jim, I’d like to propose a short action plan below, which I will call, for the purpose of this blog, “PLM Action Plan for Dummies”
Step 1: Item and Multiple Bill of Materials
This is, in my view, a main differentiator for effective Product Lifecycle Management. For small companies, this is a step to take for looking at all the relevant product information they want to manage – requirements, design, engineering, manufacturing, support, and supply chain. I do believe that a flexible solution here is key, since each company will have their own flavor of Bill of Materials (let me guess… managed by MS Excel and Access, in most of the cases). Item maturity management (Item Lifecycle) is the right way to manage relevant versions of Bill of Materials. So, by accomplishing this step you will have control over product data / BOMs.
Step 2: Connect Design and Engineering data (CAD, CAE…)
Nobody wants to enter the same data multiple times. You need to connect your design and engineering data and feed your Bill of Materials implementation. There are many choices for this. The best choice would be for this and Item and BOM to be well integrated and even provided in one package. So, by doing this, you will ensure your Bill of Materials is created from the updated design. Now, if you change your BOM, your relevant design, including models and drawings, will be updated as well.
Step 3: Link to ERP
At the end of the day, you need to manufacture what you design. Therefore, linking to ERP is very important. There is no silver bullet on how to do this, and I wouldn’t buy just any out of the box option that synchronizes with ERP. But, I’d invest in having monitoring tools that allow you to control the process of synchronizing Bill of Materials to ERP. Also, your Bill of Material and Design Management tools need to have the ability to get Part Numbers if this is controlled by ERP.
Step 4: Organize your Business Processes
You think you’re almost done :)… you have all the data about your product from its early design to ERP. So, what is the missing link? To make all steps work. Before you thought about PLM, you probably did everything by email. But since you now you have all the data managed and controlled, you can use workflow and business process mechanisms to automate your work. You don’t need to implement it in a single shot. You can start from a single ECO/ECR process and move forward.
Well, I hope this list is short enough, :)… and I’m looking forward to your feedback, which I am sure is not “dumb” at all.