The Sink Hole of PLM Implementations?

August 28, 2009

unplanned-cost-roiThinking more about PLM implementation during last few days, I’d like to come and discuss few aspects of PLM implementation cost. Everything looks nice in the beginning of the PLM journey. Single point of truth, collaborative environment, business processes, support of the multiple integrated design environment. The sharp pencil of PLM strategy shows impressive ROI from PLM implementation. The question I want to come with is to analyze what is the potential source of unplanned PLM cost.

I see three core sources of unplanned PLM costs. Let’s talk about them in details.

1. Integration Cost in a diverse enterprise environment. It’s almost impossible to bring PLM solution in empty space. Normally, PLM comes to the organization already having some design and manufacturing environment.In some cases PLM strategy created for companies and organization having acquisition history and previous CAD/PDM/PLM/ERP implementations. PLM is naturally positioned as a mediator in business processes between existing design, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing and sales environments. Because of that integration of PLM into this environment is absolutely a requirement, but at the same time very underestimated by vendors and service providers. Addition unplanned cost came as a result of longer integration processes or unplanned works that need to be done to acquire data or integration functions.

2. Support of new PLM environments and versions. PLM implementation is spanning on a significant time frame. When working with multiple CAD/PDM/PLM software, coming from different vendors the new version can come with overlap to the PLM implementation or very soon after implementation release. To support new and updated software can be a second important source of waste and unplanned maintenance cost of PLM.

3. Implementation Change Cost. Business becomes very dynamic these days. “Build to change”- this is how modern business systems need to be created, in my view. Unfortunately, I don’t see many of today’s PLM software packages answer these needs. Adjustments and changes in PLM implementation are a third big danger for additional PLM implementation cost.So, far these are my top 3 sources of unplanned PLM cost? How do you see it? Have you had chance to experience something similar in your PLM projects?

Best, Oleg


Who owns PLM implementation project?

August 27, 2009

plm-implementation-ownershipI’m coming with new discussion related to how we can successfully implement Product Lifecycle Management. I think, this issue is as important as to have good PLM technologies and ready to use functions in a product.

However, I see PLM-related implementation project uniqueness in the following factors:

1. Cross Functional. Large diversity of people and process involved into implementation. Traditionally PLM-related activity is spanning across multiple domains in organization, which position PLM influences a significant range of operational activities.

2. R&D involved. PLM is heavy impacted by R&D and Engineering activity of organization. Engineering and Product development work is unique in the way people see how they work and from a standpoint how they want to see computer systems manage their work.

3. Tools. Large diversity of software tools and providers involved. In very rare situation company uses single vendor solution for their development practices. The reasons are many - historical, product development needs, acquisitions and mergers etc. As a result corporate IT zoo for PLM implementation may be easy include several dozens of tools and components.

With this specifics how I can see a possible PLM implementation project from ownerships standpoint.

1. Corporate Ownership. The corporate ownership absolutely must have successful PLM implementations. The leader of PLM implementation should have enough power, leadership and knowledge to harmonize diverse number of stakeholders involved into implementation.

2. Service Provider Ownership.
This is very typical situation for most of PLM implementation. Additional company (in many cases can represent major vendor for this customer), is taking overall responsibilities about implementation. Were advantages are clear, the disadvantages are practically the same - lock and high dependence on such service provider, ability of service provider to work with a significant number of player in the same organization in parallel.

3. PLM Consultancy. There is situation when company decided to hire PLM consultant for planning and leading of PLM implementation. This PLM consultant needs to work with corp. resources and diverse teams to lead them toward PLM implementation. Such PLM consultant can also cooperate with Service Providers to do some additional work.

What is my conclusion so far? To have strong PLM project ownership and leadership is absolutely needed to PLM implementation. There is no single recipe how to implement PLM, company needs to work on their own plan and vision for PLM implementation. Diversity of vendors and tools provide an additional complexity in PLM implementations.

These are my thoughts…What do you think about that?

Best, Oleg.


Top annoying things about PLM software.

August 26, 2009

PLM as a combination of technologies, software, and methodology came long way from initial CAD systems, followed by CAE, Product Data Management and Collaboration Software. Some of the PLM-software components are very mature, but some of them are still in the early beginning. While we’ve innovated in many PLM products and technologies, we’ve also continued to disregard pre-existing PLM issues.

Here my list about top annoying things in PLM with no specific order, however, I do believe I started with the most significant ones.

PLM Implementation Scope. PLM software pretends on overall control of product IP and data. By saying that PLM companies, in my view, try to boil an ocean and claim to support unlimited capabilities in management of information and business processes around product development and manufacturing. Multiplied by marketing and sales, PLM creates perception of “do everything” software.

PLM Uniqueness. Ability to support a design process, manage product data and collaboration presented as unique capability of PLM software. Such position creates perception of premium value provided by PLM software and, very often, disregards other available alternatives in managing data and collaboration.

PLM Complexity. I have to admit - product engineering and manufacturing are not a simple topic. To manage such processes and data, software needs to achieve a specific level of sophistication and complexity. However, in my view, PLM often exaggerated needed a complexity level and sophistication. In the end complexity creates a significant adoption rate problem. These time people like simple words and simple software.

Terminology. PLM domain created huge terminological barrier for people to get into this space. Number of multiple buzzwords and terms create difficulties to understand business purpose and capabilities of software. Heavy usage of overlapping and confusing terminology put a very significant constraint on ability to use software and tools that come from different software vendors.

Bizarre User Interface. Because of a long life cycle of a software product, user interface is something that was development during many years and contain multiple “historical reasons”. Even if during last few years, user experience was priorities by most software vendors in PLM space, this is still pace requirement multiple improvement and innovation.

Slooooow…. After all, performance isstill one ofthe most discussed issue software vendors isfocusing on. Refresh time, Render Time, regeneration, display, view etc. All these functions are very time consuming and contains space for innovation.

Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: What will be cloud cost of PLM?

August 25, 2009

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wazure

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My short prompt today is about Cloud/SaaS infrastructure. Reading the following article by Dion Hinchcliffe comparing cost trends of leading cloudinfrastructure providers - Amazon, Google, Microsoft. What will define cost of PLM on a cloud? How do you see PLM SaaS cost trends in the future?

My take on this:

1. Future PLM SaaS Applications will be significantly cheaper in comparison to today’s on premise offering.

2. Cloud/SaaS will remove overlaps and customer will pay per specific PLM feature.

3. Cloud service providers will compete on their complimentary offering as part of PLM solutions.

Just my opinion. YMMV. What do you think about it?

Best, Oleg.


How many Lifecycles do we need?

August 25, 2009

how-many-lifecyclesYesterday, two separate article got my attention and brought me to think about Lifecycle. Alternatively, even more, about number of systems claims different lifecycle support. Jim’s Brown thought about QLM Quality Lifecycle Management and TEC article What keeps EAM/CMMS away from PLM“. Why I choose these two is because they are presenting a complimentary story, in my view.

Jim claims Quality is a complimentary process to Product Lifecycle. Manufacturers these days cannot take risks and afford quality issues rising up, so QLM processes need to be adjusted and/or work together with Product Lifecycle. At the same time, Jim mentioned that many of today’s PLM systems doesn’t have QLM capabilities and some hybrid PLM/QLM would be probably interesting combination, we can offer to customers. I’d agree with Jim - with PLM system capable of manage overall product lifecycle, we’d better had Quality related processes connected and working together.

If I read correctly TEC, Kurt Chen presents in his article need to tie PLM and EAM systems together and analyze possible ways to do so. These processes represent both sides of product-related activities. First- from a product development side, second- from side of purchasing. What I liked is presenting of “two-sides of the story” of the same lifecycle.

I thought, these two stories is excellent examples to stop considering product-related processes as a something separate. Today’s organizational goals can be achieved only if we will be able to establish single lifecycle to manage all product-related activities in organization across department, divisions and cross-organizational boundaries. The siloed approach won’t work anymore. And I think demand on customers today is to establish such approach.

So, that’s what I thought about “lifecycles”. What do you think? What is your opinion? Do you have similar discussions and/or thoughts coming from your organizational experience?

Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: Who will rebuild PLM for Mac?

August 24, 2009

outlook-macShort prompt. I’m reading the article “Microsoft Outlook sets its sights for Mac”.“Microsoft is offering Outlook on Mac to enterprises because of the increasing Mac presence in business. “We’re seeing customers choose the Mac platform in the enterprise, but whether their business is all Mac or a mix of Mac and PC, they interact with other customers using Windows or Macs,” Tedesco said.”

So, Office 2008 will move to Mac’s next year. Microsoft will rebuild Outlook ground up on Mac using Cocoa. Maybe it’s only me, but I see signs of Mac around much more than before. Is it timing to think about Mac and PLM usability?

Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg


PLM trends in the intersection of Business and IT

August 24, 2009

plm-it-interestion-trendsYou can ask me - why would you like to talk about trends? Trends are something normally going toward an end of the calendar year? Something like “2009 trends” or “future 2010 trends”… What’s up now?

I think, current turbulent time brings different time scale on everything we are doing. Businesses need to take decisions about what they are doing on going basis and not on calendar basis. So, thinking about various business needs and heading up to more active post-summer time, I decided to put few thoughts about PLM and surrounding topics.
I’d like to suggest to take a focus of two – Business and IT. And definitely, “business first” notion. In my view, prism of Business will have a very significant impact on everything that will go in Product Lifecycle Management in the near future.

So, I figured out four “major trends” and want to talk about them a little bit more in deep. I will take them in the order from most “business significant” to “more technologically significant”.

1. Upfront cost of PLM projects will impact enterprise PLM

I think initial cost of PLM projects becomes a very significant factor impacting various kinds of PLM implementations in enterprise these days. I’d expect every Business Unit thinking about PLM strategies to ask question - how we can do the same with less cost? I see here various impacts coming from outside of PLM, such as development of “free software notion” in consumer space, OnDemand/SaaS models for CRM and partially ERP applications and, finally, bad perception about PLM implementation performance. I’d expect major business re-thinking in the way business will think about PLM and surrounding business applications. What does it mean for PLM vendors? My thoughts here mostly about alternative business models (free/open source) and new technologies that lower cost of PLM deployments.
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2. Vertical PLM Solutions

PLM becomes very broad solution when vendors start to think in context of various industries, vertical, markets and organization types. One of the possible ways to become more efficient and increase adoption rate, is to focus PLM solutions/implementations on the specific market niche. The potential of a specific market niche/industry can be significant for mid-size software vendor to get in. Another interesting perspective is how “PLM behemoths” will be reacting on such a move. My expectation is for positive reaction and interest to build market/industry specific partnerships and alliances.

3. Alternative non-PLM solutions

This is another interesting move. Do you like buzzword “PLM”? I’d expect not everybody like it and many of the software vendors and solution providers can try to find solution for “PLM problem” in “non-PLM way”. The potential exists in multiple domains - Business Process Management, MDM, Content Management etc. These companies, leveraging new technologies, infrastructure and ideas can compete to provide product development, engineering and manufacturing solutions in the same space occupied by PLM vendors. Even if I see potential risk for current PLM businesses as very low, I think risk for “white space” and “new business” is very significant.

4. PDM renaissance

Th  This is my last point. What can be done in PDM these days? PDM is a core of Product Lifecycle Management and provide basics data management capabilities for most of PLM deployments. At the same time, PDM is mature and provided by many vendors these days/ At the time when customers will be looking for more cost effective solutions, less overlap in business functions and additional optimization PDM can get “a second move”. Such PDM renaissance can be driven by new technologies, usability improvement and new business ideas. This is a pace to innovate in my view.

So far, I’m sure haven’t chance to make fundamental research. These are just my thoughts, and I wanted to share it with you. I will be waiting for your comments and great blog discussion.

Thanks, Oleg



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