PLM, Innovation and Getting Things Done

This week was extremely busy. I was traveling to attend Autodesk Media Summit in San-Francisco. You can read about it in my previous post. However, I wanted to talk about Innovation before this weekend. Have you heard about this buzz? It became so popular to talk about how software helps you to innovate these days. PLM vendors are joining this buzz as well. Well, everybody wants to be innovative. Easy answer. Obviously, I want to be innovative. Because it is so easy applies, PLM marketers took into the portfolio of PLM sales machine. The connection between PLM and Innovation became stronger for the last couple of years. You can see it on many websites of PLM-related companies and marketing materials. Almost two years ago, I posted – What are the metrics for PLM innovation? The idea was to discuss how you can measure innovation in the organization in order to prevent dilution of the term. Nevertheless, I believe the problem is still here.

I was reading Virtualdutchman blog of Jos Voskuil earlier this week about PLM and Innovation. Jos is taking the topic of Innovation in a very systematic way. Jos drives his conclusion about what are key company processes PLM can help you to innovate in. Read Jos’ conclusion below:

PLM does not kill innovation and although the PLM Vendor marketing is not very explicit, there are three areas where PLM supports Innovation. In a (subjective) order of priority I would say: 1/ New Product Introduction – bringing the highest revenue advantages for a selected invention; 2/ Invention discovery – by providing R&D a 360 view of their customers and market landscape enable inventions to happen in your company; 3/ Portfolio Management – to assist in selecting the right opportunities to focus.

I’m actually in agreement with Jos. PLM can help people to innovate. However, the story of innovation reminded me the story sales people were telling about the differences between vitamins and pain-killers. Vitamins are making your life better. Pain-killers are helping to remove your pain. It is very important to be able to innovate, take a right decision in NPD (new-product development) or discover for better ideas. However, in my view, it is all vitamins. Opposite to that, to have an ability to manage change processes, get access to the correct version of BOM or calculate product cost to be manufactured according to the specific order is something organization need to do every day.

It made me think about what is in people mind on a daily basis, so if PLM does it – people will use it immediately. Not innovation. I want to get a job done. Every day. People are absolutely dependent on tools that help them to manage everyday life activities – release drawings, run BOM changes, ordering components and product shipments. The following funny video of Kanban2go is not related to PLM, but it is so true.

What is my conclusion? People want to get a job done and go fo skydiving or skiing. I like the idea. However, the manufacturing planning process is frustrating. I cannot find my last drawings, or I need to re-build a product prototype from a baseline nobody can memorize or retrieve. There are many other frustrating tasks. In my view, to help people to get a job done will be the next big thing in PLM. Not to plan about 10-year future innovation (although it is important), but get rid of tasks standing between people and the weekend. I think PLM vendors need to take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

4 Responses to PLM, Innovation and Getting Things Done

  1. You talk about everyday tasks being things like “release drawings, run BOM changes, ordering components and product shipments”, well I would say these are far from everyday tasks. These are tasks that occur at the end of the process and tasks that take up very little time.

    Everyday tasks are more like modeling, email, issue lists, team meetings and problem solving… and I would say email maybe accounts for the largest amount of time.

    If you follow an engineer/designer and record how much time they spend releasing things, editing a BOM or ordering parts you will find that this takes up less than 15% of thier time. You will also find they are doing this late in the NPD process, maybe last 20% of the process. So how much impact can a tool have when applied to something that is taking up less than 15% of the man hours, late in the process?

  2. FYI your comment posting system seems to be broken. Took me 5 tries to get it to take…

  3. Chris, if you have a prob with, please consider moving to my Beyond PLM site ( This site is mirrored by historical reasons.

  4. Chris, I think you are right and people more dependent on email rather than on PLM system in their everyday tasks. However, I don’t believe somebody can replace email in a foreseeable future. So, my point was mostly about “task management”. Best, Oleg

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