PLM and Process Tools: Opportunity or Complication?

I’d like to talk about BPM again. I was writing about BPM in the past. Navigate to this link to take a look on few pasts topics related to Business Process Management. Almost four years ago, I asked a question – Should PLM develop its own process tools? I think, the question is still not answered. Here is a quote from my historical article about what is the place PLM can take in the BPM game:

So where does PLM play into this game? I see two possible options: (1) PLM providers will focus on the development of process management tools; (2) PLM providers will allow the integration of PLM information and IP (Intellectual Property) into existing process tools provided by platforms. I believe that option (1) will be very helpful in integrating PLM systems into the enterprise software already available within the vast zoo of software within the organization, option (2) can simplify deployment and and keep the implementation of PLM simple.

I was reading Beth Stackpole Design News article PLM startup targets efficiency. It is a short article. Have a read and make your opinion. Don’t miss also comments to the article too. Based on what Kenesto is saying, manufacturing companies are still looking for good process management solutions. I found the following passage interesting:

…PLM’s tight ties to CAD still limit its use beyond engineering — a fact Kenesto is hoping to avoid with its process-automation-for-anyone approach…. traditional PLM is basically a process automation tool that is too complex to use effectively, prompting many users to circumvent it, using spreadsheets or email to share critical product data….Kenesto isn’t a replacement for PLM systems, but rather a different approach for solving the process automation piece of facilitating engineering workflows. Kenesto, which is cloud-based software, employs conventions that most users understand, like sending and receiving attachments, so it feels in many ways like a familiar email system…

The idea seems to me simple and interesting. Kenesto will be on the cloud, disconnected from CAD, providing graphical DIY tools to engineers to route documents and messages.

BPM and PLM: Integration Complexity

One of the biggest problems of BPM in the past was a problem of integration. Tools like SharePoint, WebSphere, and many others provided quite powerful solution to support processes in your organization. However, when companies tried to implement it, organization faced significant complexity to integrate existing “content oriented” systems (i.e. ERP, CRM, PLM) with process management tools (BPM). Most of BPM tools ended up acquired by large platform tools, and you can find them as part of larger platforms.

What is my conclusion? It seems to me “cloud” is a game changer in Kenesto play. By introducing solution in the cloud, Kenesto will try to simplify the process of integration with existing CAD, PLM and other enterprise tools. DIY approach can simplify IT life in organizing engineering processes. At the same time, it can introduce a challenge for IT trying to rule application and business processes and not interested to give it up to end users. The simplicity claimed by Kenesto can be another game changer. Kenesto is searching for beta customers. You can read more here. You can watch Kenesto in action to prove it right. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: I’m serving as an external advisor to Kenesto

2 Responses to PLM and Process Tools: Opportunity or Complication?

  1. rory says:

    As the PLM continues to expand within an organization or their value chain, one size fits all workflow or BPM is hitting roadblocks. Minimally, the cost and complexity of change management will escalate. As internal resources are stretched, more companies struggle to invest in extensive testing of their PLM implementations.
    As additional non-technical users being pulled into enterprise class PLM workflows, they are put off by the complexity and information needs of PLM. Their information is more unstructured and their business processes are very informal.
    Similar to ERP’s hub and spoke implementations, I think that many companies would love to have core PLM processes and plug in ancillary department BPM/Workflows and applications.
    Currently, I don’t think this is feasible for most add-on software vendors or most IT groups. While the “Cloud” sounds like answer to all problems, few software vendors can effectively grow with 1 or 2 user implementations. The cost to sell and risks of selling to non-traditional departments is challenging. Even if you can close a large number of low cost deals, you are faced with cost of integration. When the cost of the one of these integrations exceeds the total cost of solution, this is very hard sell. For most IT groups, they are not equipped to manage an ever evolving IT portfolio.


  2. Rory, thanks for your comment. I think, cost of implementation and integration is a key. You hit the nail in the head. Process implementation needs to be integrated among multi-discipline islands of software. It is a very hard situation for every software vendors and IT organization. Best, Oleg

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