In my view, one of the things that is killing PLM the most is the level of technical details. I think PLM is overselling complexity and, as a result, moves people out of this space. PLM is perceived as complex and, as a result, a dangerous place. So, I think, in order to improve the PLM adoption rate, we need to rethink why PLM looks like a dangerous technological toy rather than a practical tool for an organization?
So, here are my top three things we need to work on to get out of the PLM complexity game.
1. User Experience. One of the things that is absolutely not accepted in most of the PLM implementations I have seen is the way users interact with systems. Most of the systems expose too many details, overload users with additional information and functions. I’d recommend that all developers implement a way to track usage of your user interface features and analyze the features that are not in use. As soon as you have this indication – remove the features. Nobody will care about menus/buttons/dialogs. As a result, you will have more display real-estate for your core functionality.
2. Mobile Applications. I love my iPhone J… Maybe not iPhone, but my mobile BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, etc. I think we need to come with mobile applications for daily PLM life. It should come in a way that will embed Product Lifecycle Management into my mobile life. People will appreciate it, I’m sure. And this needs to be completely role-based. To allow designers to see a list of documents they need to complete, to allow managers to see and approve lists of ECOs for today. At the end of the day, I want to be able to show the latest cool 3D model on my mobile device to my colleague during lunch time. All these small things will help us influence people’s minds.
3. Plug and Play. Last, but absolutely not least. Today PLM implementation is a 3-step activity: Install, Implement, Use. I want to exclude the “Implement” phase. I think we need to provide a system that needs to be installed. After installation, we will be able to start using our system. But do we need to develop our processes? Do we need to organize our data? The answer is that we do need to connect to legacy systems and other systems. Think about the old way of connecting devices to Windows. IRQs, reboots, configurations. These days are in the past. The same should happen to PLM. Otherwise PLM will die.
I’m sure that each of you has specific pains related to PLM complexity. I’d be interesting in hearing your voices, and am looking forward to our dialog.