Pragmatic Architectures for PLM Future

September 30, 2009

Picture 9I think, we’ve faced many changes during past few years related to how enterprise software is going to be implemented. Shifts in business models, new social and cloud technologies, demand for free software and many others. Thinking about all these challenges and changes, I want to discuss what is potential outcome and impact on Product Lifecycle Management architecture and implementations.

In my view, we came to the point when PLM is adopted as a business methodology and business strategy. However, I think we still have a huge gap between understanding of business practice and technologies and implementations we have in the field. So, proposed principles are my ideas about to define a pragmatic PLM architecture for the next 5-7 years. I’m taking this time span, as something that allows us to change fundamental architectures of the systems and not only make cosmetics tweaks.

1. Individuals Interaction and Process Tools. What should be an approach to design process tools? It looks to me, the key capabilities should be in the way a specific user (individual if you will) can impact overall process design and process management in the organization. Process tools need to move from space where people are divided into “process planners” and “process execution”. No more “build vs. run”. The individuals in an organization will need to define right processes and be able to improve as business change in the organization.

2. Customers Collaboration. I think, we move to the space where a customer will decide how to assemble PLM system from a flexible set of PLM services. Those services will be developed and providers by PLM suppliers. However final system configuration will be defined by customer and answer to the specific needs of business and organization.

3. Permanent Change as a key factor to improve software.
Changes become a key factor in PLM architecture adoption. Today’s systems are very expensive in case you want to make a change in their configuration, data model, implementation practices. This is something we need to work on the future. Cost of change will be key driver to successful PLM implementation. Change is on going procedure. Together with future SaaS models it will finally remove the need in planning precise PLM implementation phases from year to year.

4. Working Software over Methodologies and Documentation. This is last, but very important. No more documentation. Architectures need to allow people to learn how PLM system works, systems will become self explained and self documented. In the same way, you can discover software code, you will be able to discover PLM implementations. This will be a future role of PLM architects in the organization.

This is, of course, not a recipe how to build new PLM system. However, I do so sense in these principles to think how to change enterprise PLM software in the future.

Just my thoughts. As usual, your comments are welcome!

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: A Roadmap to PLM Success?

September 30, 2009

I wanted to share with you funny picture from flowingdata. This picture reminds me a lot about PLM implementations and various PLM methodologies. Nevertheless, now, let me ask you few serious questions.

What is a roadmap to PLM success in the organization?

What is a roadmap to successful PLM implementation?

I’m going to think and blog about this next week, but would be interested to hear your voices…

Best, Oleg

Accidental Collaboration using PLM

September 29, 2009

Picture 6I’d like to think about how to improve collaboration… So, why I’d like to talk about “collaboration” again? We got enough collaboration for the past years in PLM. Our primary focus was on how to enable collaboration by seamless access to design, models, visuals, processes in the end. Even so, this is exactly my point – we enable collaboration when people actually ready to collaborate on something. If you are sending request to you colleagues with a specific 3D fragment, problem, issue etc. All these situations can be grouped as “intentional type of collaboration”. Your intent is to collaborate, so it makes things easy.

Now, let me come with a different type of collaboration – accidental. For me, the main distinguished situation in this case, that this type collaboration happens not according to the initial intent. So, you are not allowing people to collaboration with you, but use information created by somebody else to collaborate on the specific topic. I will give you few examples of accidental collaboration: 1/ your discover a specific design problem happened to machine you design in the past; 2/ you are analyzing support case and discover how to improve machine or process; 3/ you are looking on revenues from your products and discover something specific comes out of machines or products you are working on.

Now, what is similar in all these situations (and maybe you can come with something in addition). You have no specific intent to collaborate. A collaboration happens by accident when you work in the context of a specific set of data. This specific set of data is not created for this collaborative purpose, but was created by somebody else, or even a result of combination and/or manipulation on data. Sounds like simple, right? However, in my view, this is terrible missed point in today’s collaborative systems. Most of the tools to support accidental collaboration, today developed by implementation services and target a specific customer need. There is very little generic support for such tools.

So, what should be done, in my view to improve PLM ability for accidental collaboration? Below are few proposals how we can better facilitate accidental collaboration:

1.     Usability of product data representation. As much more we will be human oriented, more information will be available for users

2.     Use “contextual patterns” of user experience. Facilitate presentation of information in the context of particular topic – user, product, operation, requirements, customers.

3.     Improve annotation capabilities. Improve an ability of the system to annotate information. It will allow to create additional data, contextually connected.

4.     Improve data portability. We need to have an ability to transfer data between systems in enterprise. It will allow transparency and connection of information.

5.     Improve Business Intelligence. To have additional BI capabilities will allow to mine and extract data, previously hidden from users.

I’m sure this is a not exhaustive list of needs. However, following these needs will allow to streamline collaboration significantly. How do you see it? Do you have similar cases in your organization? Does it make sense to you?

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: Google Site API enables PLM collaboration?

September 29, 2009

Interesting blog post from Google Enterprise. Import, Export and more with Google Sites API. What turns Google Sites to much more configurable and available for customization and tweaks for different cloud based scenarios. Google Blogs comes with two scenarios:

1/Open/Import projects;

2/ SharePoint Move for Google Sites.

Picture 4

I’d not be surprised if small manufacturers will be able to check these capabilities for external collaborative needs. Just my thoughts. What is your opinion?

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: Enterprise Buzzwords or How Many Applications Do We Need?

September 28, 2009

Picture 2Interesting post few days ago. What is very annoying is the number of buzzwords growing in the enterprise system world. Do we really need all of them? Is there overlap? How many times you faced situation when you and your colleagues are using different words for the same thing?

Here is the short list (thanks to Improve Process Blog)

• CAD (Computer aided design) to support modeling of hardware and electrical/electronics
• PDM (Product data management) systems to support data management
• PLM (Product lifecycle management) systems to support workflow, engineering change, bill of material management, release to manufacturing etc.
• MES (Manufacturing execution systems) to manage work in progress on the manufacturing floor
• CRM (Customer relationship management) systems manage, track and organize its data / contacts with its current and prospective customers
• BPM (Business process management) systems provide process management capability with workflows
• SCM (Supply chain management) systems provide the ability to manage the entire supply chain and support planning, sourcing, manufacturing, delivery and return logistics.
• KM (Knowledge management) to support knowledge sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
• SRM (Supplier relationship management) to support managing vendor relations and lifecycle.
• PPM (Project Portfolio Management) systems used for analyzing and collectively managing a group of current or proposed projects.
• BI (Business intelligence) systems help the business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context.
• EMM (Enterprise Marketing Management) systems manage marketing’s end-to-end internal processes including Web Analytics, Campaign Management, Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, Marketing Resource Management, Marketing Dashboards, Lead Management, Event-driven Marketing, Predictive Modeling etc.
• HRMS (Human resource management system) or HRIS (Human resource information system) manage all processes within human resources.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: Integrated PLM and ERP – Killer Ideas or Controlled Innovation?

September 28, 2009

Picture 1Short prompt in the beginning of the week. I was reading post from BSW “Killer Ideas And Controlled Innovation: Why you need to integrate PLM and ERP?”. First of all, an idea of integrating PLM (back 15 years it was PDM) seems old. I remember myself in the early beginning of my data management activities around AutoCAD back in 1993, an idea of communication between design data management system and manufacturing systems was highly important. But, I think, this problem is still not resolved.

So, is it a killer idea? Or may be the successful approach in integrating PLM and ERP can bring real innovative future?

Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg

How to Unleash the Potential of PLM 2.0?

September 25, 2009

The term “management” is very misused, in my view. Long time ago, somebody told me - if you don’t know how to call it, call it “management”. So, Product Lifecycle Management :)… How we can move it forward? I have heard a lot of discussions about 2.0 trends for the last few years. It started as Web 2.0 and after moved to different areas of our life - Government 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Library 2.0, Everything 2.0 etc… So, finally, thanks to my colleagues from Dassault Systems, we have now PLM 2.0. I had chance to talk about various aspects related to PLM 2.0 and this is my next attempt to discuss and churn again about the PLM 2.0 topic.

Management Minimized, but Not Eliminated.

I think, management is a really outdated term in the context of software. Like a combustion engine, management as a technology is largely stopped being developed. In order to realize the full potential of organization we need to focus on a process or, saying differently, on how to marshal resources and activities to achieve our goals.

Many times in Product Lifecycle Management we are trying to lay down a structure - design, engineering, manufacturing, dependencies between them and later enforcing software to manage it to get maximum of business potential. This is an obsolete approach in my view. The right one - structure comes from real business context, from specific business needs. In this case PLM will become real enabling technology and not “management” technology.

However, what is going on around? There are few interesting 2.0 trends I can see in PLM going to PLM 2.0:

1. Expand. This interesting trend represented, in my view, in DS V6. I give full respect to my colleagues in Dassault System. This approach allows to resolve many problems in the organization of development, manufacturing and other business processes. Common model used in this approach can solve lots of problems as well as collaborative business applications leveraging common infrastructure. Since now, everybody will be able to collaborate in much more efficient way. I think big ERP vendors are also pretty much following the same ideas laying down fundamentals of ERP platforms to serve needs of product development and manufacturing.

2. Integrate. This is another approach. In order to achieve the next level of productivity, PLM content and process is going to be integrated into the environment that much more social and less formal. Different ideas about how to integrate PLM products or content into - business process suites, office applications, web portals, IM-tools. In my view, you can see a very interesting example of such approach in PTC’s Social Product Development strategy. Going hand-by-hand with Microsoft’s SharePoint, processes can be easy integrated and distributed, if you will.

3. Socialize. This approach is shifting 180 degrees to the people. Let say, people first (opposite to “product first”) - we need to care how to organize contextual communication by providing flexible space to do it. You just take what you need into this space- Bill of Material, Item, Drawing, Contact, Mail etc. The importance of contextual and not formal collaboration is taking top priority in such approach. I liked to see service offer a way to collaborate without boundaries. The biggest advantage - you really don’t need “to manage”, but just to collaborate socially. What need to be prevented is organizing of “yet another informational silo”.

So, to unleash the real potential of PLM 2.0, PLM need to lose the “M” part. This is not about management anymore, but about how to help to people to realize potential of organization to design, manufacture, sell and maintain products and ideas. One of the best non-technological books I had chance to read last time was “The Opposable Mind“. PLM needs to get out of traditional “management” ways to think and transform PLM to PLM 2.0.

Best, Oleg

What is the Next Big Deal in PLM services?

September 24, 2009

implementation-serviceDell’s $3.9bn acquisition of Perot Systems few days ago drove me to think about PLM and Services for some time. Of course, services are not related to cool PLM technologies, functionality and strategies. However, looking on analyst data, services are earning a significant portion of the overall PLM revenues (ref to CIMData).

I want to figure out few interesting observations around PLM services:

1. PLM Service organizations are closing gap between PLM vision and practical PLM implementation for customers. In the end, after all presentations, meetings and planning sessions, PLM services come to customer and “connecting dots” by adding functionality, integrating systems and improving usability of the systems where it is possible.

2. PLM Service organization is huge experimental space for gathering PLM knowledge and expertise, incubation ideas and technologies. In my view, PLM service organization becomes unique place to discover all advantages and disadvantages of PLM technologies and product. In many cases, these organizations is orienting on multiple or combined vendor offerings. You can learn a lot from the standpoint of how to make PLM work for customers.

3. PLM Services is one of the major destructive factors for PLM products and portfolios. This is another side of the coin. PLM services see vendor’s product as a platform to generate services. In many cases, PLM services abandon or re-implement standard functionality available in PLM systems.

4. In many situations, PLM services (or VAR/partner) have much more influence on what customers are doing than PLM vendors. By accumulating knowledge about customers requirements and expectations, PLM service organization can significantly influence ever decision made by customers.

What is my today’s conclusion with regards to PLM Services? Despite “love and hate relationships”, in most of the cases, I see PLM service organization as a very positive entity in PLM business landscape. PLM service organization needs to be involved more and get higher status as PLM eco-system builder and knowledge incubation. At the same time, we need to think how to convert PLM services into new product portfolio facilitator in PLM zone and not as a consumer of PLM platforms.

Best, Oleg.

Benefits of RIA for Product Lifecycle Management

September 23, 2009

riaI’d like to discuss RIA today. RIA – Rich Internet Applications are web applications that have most of the characteristics of desktop applications, typically delivered by way of standards based web browser plug-ins or independently via sandboxes or virtual machines. Examples of RIA frameworks include Curl, GWT , Adobe Flash/Adobe Flex/AIR, Java/JavaFX, uniPaaS, Mozilla’s XUL and Microsoft Silverlight.

Thinking about today’s modern technologies such as SOA, SaaS and development of PLM systems I see more and more advantages in complete encapsulation of user experience component from PLM business components. In such context, RIA can provide a good technological foundation to establish great user experience. And, in my view, user experience is one of the key factors for today’s PLM system user adoption.

So, what can be such benefits? I’d like to figure out top three and describe them in details.

1. Better data visualization.

A lot of information in PLM systems can be better understood in a graphical way (in comparison to normal boring web application). Spatial information, geo locations, 3D models, process visualization- this is the only short list of data that can be presented graphically to the user. RIA can be an excellent choice to improve UI in such cases.

2. Integration of data across multiple systems

The nature of PLM is to deal in multiple domains of data - requirements, design, engineering, support, customers. PLM systems today can provide a federated layer to manage information in other systems. However, it creates visualization challenges. Usage of RIA can simplify a way PLM will present information coming from different domains.

3. Mobile Access to Information

The nature of PLM is to deal in multiple domains of data - requirements, design, engineering, support, customers. PLM systems today can provide a federated layer to manage information in other systems. However, it creates visualization challenges. Usage of RIA can simplify a way PLM will present information coming from different domains.Today’s life is very dynamic and customer demand is to be able to access product-related information everywhere. Since RIA can seamlessly make data available on mobile devices, PLM can leverage it and expand PLM system usage and deployment in the organization for many additional tasks.

In addition, PLM deployment is heavily relying on services and customization. This is, in my view, additional reason why RIA is not in mainstream for PLM. RIA development is complicated and not always can be acceptable to service providers. PLM system can gain a significant advantage from the ability to support RIA and provide toolboxes for PLM system customization based on these tools.

Have you made any initial investment in RIA system learning? Do you plan to do it? Do you see any benefits?

Best, Oleg

PLM off Craiglist – Different Angle on Social PLM

September 22, 2009

plm-from-craiglist1Social PLM. Social Product Development. Social Network and PLM… I think we got lots of such discussion in the past few months. All of them, indeed, are very interesting and productive. I loved most of them and have to admit, social dimension in Product Lifecycle Management sounds as a very interesting option to me.

However, today, I want to raise discussion in a bit different angle of Social networking and PLM. How to choose PLM system? This is an important question when you think how to leverage wisdom of the crowd for PLM. I think, this question will be even more laud, as much as we will be moving to the future cloud services and more granular. In the end of the day, PLM will stop becoming a “catholic marriage” with a vendor for next 25 years. So, to flow into the ocean of available services will be very beneficial.

But what we have today in this space? How you can get a recommendation from masses about what PLM to choose? In my view, professional social networks, such as LinkedIn can become a place where you can get some knowledge and ask for other people experience.

Look on this. I browsed through Linked In Ask Service and found some very interesting discussions related to how to choose enterprise and PLM software. Furthermore, you can ask your specific question. When I don’t see something new in services like Ask, presence of such service in professional social networks can be very interesting social PLM option.


Do you want to make a try? Maybe your future PLM will come as a recommendation from PLM Craiglist?

Best, Oleg


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