De-confusing PLM Collaboration

What do you think about “Collaboration”? I think, it confusing a bit. We use it too often. Some people like “collaborative” stories and some don’t. My long time collaborator in collaborative discussions, Chris Williams of Vuuch once in the comment to his blog post on Vuuch Voice, challenged me to stop using a word “collaboration” for few weeks. This is his passage:

I challenge you all to stop using the word collaboration. Just try for a few weeks. When you are struck to say/write collaboration stop and try to be more specific.

So, I wanted to come with some thoughts about “collaboration”. Since, I’m trying to stay short in my blog, maybe it will take more than one post.

PLM Collaboration In Wild

I want to come with examples of PLM companies presenting their products in collaborative scenarios. I gathered them from Youtube. I wanted to keep similarity in scenarios and not overkill with long videos. After I made this “collection”, I actually discovered that most of the videos are presenting Pro-E oriented scenarios. Nothing special about Pro-E, my friends from PTC :). However, I have to admit, PTC YouTube channel contains lots of materials about what PTC is up to these days, and it is really good, in my view.

Agile Engineering Collaboration for Pro/Engineer

TeamCenter Express Velocity Collaboration

Windchill ProductPoint Collaboration

PDMLinks 9.2 Overview (Release to community)

Mathcad Engineering Collaboration with SharePoint

Collaboration and Sharing Of Content

Here is my simple view on PLM collaboration. It is all about sharing content. In most of these scenarios, people need to get a product design and engineering content. You can see people are storing and accessing data (drawings, files, ECOs and other information). In my view, it is rarely happening that people will need to access content at the same time. The most valuable scenarios are actually related to situations, when content models proposed by PLM tools help people to manage their communication or processes during different phases of work.

Content and Complexity

What make PLM collaboration complex? My take on this- it is all about content again. Product design and engineering content is extremely complex. Just by trying to figure out how to navigate in the complexity of this content, you can come to very complicated use cases. These use cases multiplied with visual and textual data representation, turbocharged by the diversity of product development processes ends up as a complex net of information – design models, drawings and various documents and other content.

What is my conclusion? PLM collaboration is about how to organize shared space between multiple people accessing common content. People are working together on this content. The high complexity and diversification of content are two main factors that make PLM collaboration very confusing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

2 Responses to De-confusing PLM Collaboration

  1. Cam Bickel says:

    Oleg, I am glad you posted this. I too think the term collaboration is overused, particularly in the narrow sense of real time, or synchronous, collaboration. As you say this is not the common case. The real power of PLM is the less sexy but more common, and more important in my view, support for asynchronous collaboration.

    The starting point for this is putting all the product information in the system and making it searchable and accessible to multiple sites within the company and to outside partners. Next is the ability to easily employ change and release processes that involve whoever is needed regardless of location and time zone. Third is the ability to drive data in a controlled fashion to multiple factories and the supply chain. Fourth is the ability to accept feedback and requests from all these people. This is asynchronous collaboration around the product record and is the real value of PLM. The glitzy synchronous collaboration is great for demos and wow factor but is not nearly as important in my experience.


  2. Cam, I agree with you 100%. Synchronous collaboration between people located in USA and China are nice, but it never happens in real life, because of timezone, language and many other factors. At the same time, asynchronous email-like collaboration with the ability to access product information is very important. Thanks for your comment! Best, Oleg

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