Integrate PDM and PLM: Wrong Question?

Two weeks ago, during SolidWorks World 2011, I had a chance to talk with Jonathan Scott of Razorleafabout different aspects of integration between SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and Enovia V6. Navigate to the following link to see Jonathan’s presentation online. These slides as well our conversation made me think about trajectories of different product data management systems and environments in the context of the overall software lifecycle in manufacturing organization.

PDM as a PLM Foundation

Few years ago, I had a chance to read SolidWorks White Paper about PLM. You can navigate to the following link to retrieve this document. The concept of "PLM: It starts from PDM" was crafted very well in this paper. Thinking more about this concept I can see a very interesting approach of PLM implementation- to start from existing PDM solution. The potential advantages of this approach can be to prevent unnecessarily migrations between systems and shorten implementation cycle. PLM system connected to PDM system can re-use data foundation to manage CAD files lifecycle, Bill of Materials, change management.

CAD Files and BOMs

These are two entities that always raises lots of discussion during PLM implementations. Multiple CAD systems create significant difficulties for PLM implementation and making ROI much longer than expected. Management of multiple Bill of Materials, tracking changes between different BOM views can be an additional complication in front of PLM. What if product data management system, which already in place (from CAD vendors, homegrown or any other) can provide this solution? The starting point of PLM implementation will not be anymore to start managing CAD files.

Collaboration and Process Foundation

A significant portion of a product lifecycle is to support people in their way to run product development, exchange information and making decision. Most of this work today relies on IT infrastructure available in the organization – mail, shared workspaces, instant messenger and more. Business process management software (if any in place) rarely covers product development processes. Companies thinking about product development process improvements have a very long way to go until PLM implementation actually coming to the stage of quality management, cost management, compliance, regulatory and more. A new approach in PLM implementations can be to start from this stage and leveraging existing PDM infrastructure.

What is my conclusion? Software has a long lifecycle in manufacturing companies. I found the lifecycle of PDM/PLM software systems is very complicated. Actually, it is as complicated as the product lifecycle they are managing. To change existing systems in a company can be a very costly decision. To re-use existing systems can be a complicated from the technical standpoint, but can lead to a faster ROI. It makes sense to me. The cost of integration can be a key in this story. So, a potentially "wrong question" can lead to the right answer. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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