How to get engineers, to do PLM?

December 5, 2012

Enterprise software is a complicated beast. PLM is not an exclusion from the list. Despite demands to be simplified and become user friendly, the majority of PLM implementations require long preparation, planning and implementation phases. However, this is only a visible part of the iceberg. The invisible part (and probably mostly important) that many people are rejecting to use data-management software. If you speak to engineers, they can tell you how they hate everything that makes their lives very complicated. Here is the question I can hear many times in industry discussions, conferences, dispute and blogs – how to get engineers to use PLM software?

I’ve been thinking about different approaches. The following TechCrunch article caught my attention – Ways to get people to do things they don’t want to do. Read the article and make your conclusion. The analogy with kids is pretty funny. At the end of the days, engineers like kids… (excuse me, engineers, but it was a compliment :)). This is my favorite passage:

Unfortunately, the corporate norm remains drawing up a long list of what needs to get done and throwing it over the email wall to be completed… or else! There will always be tasks people don’t want to do. But there are better ways to motivate others, principally by designing conditions where people actuate themselves. Fundamentally, people resist being controlled and both the carrot and the stick can be tools for unwanted manipulation. Instead, designing behavior by putting in the forethought to appropriately stage tasks, providing progress indicators, and finally, offering celebratory rewards under the right circumstances, are easy ways to motivate while maintaining a sense of autonomy. Whether in the doctor’s office or the corner office, it is the job of the person inflicting the pain to do their utmost to ease it. Not doing so is intellectually lazy, whether to a kid or to a colleague. Considering how the receiver could more easily comply with the request is at the heart of inspiring action.

Here is my 3 ways of how software vendors can reduce the pain and to simplify the way for engineers to be involved into PLM activities:

1. One step at the time. This is a fundamental change, in my view. Most of PLM activities looks like multi-year journey, which involves the transformation of company business processes and activities. To make flexible software capable to be adapted to company processes. Then make a change "one process at the time" is the future of PLM software.

2. Improvements KPI. To develop tools that can demonstrate improvements indicators. These tools can be used by company to promote and appreciate people involved into the implementation of PLM programs.

3. Social Features. Implement "social features" and tools that can help people to promote what they do in the company. Imagine PLM software can help people to become more visible in the organization can help to develop additional incentives to use PLM software.

What is my conclusion? Technology is simple. People are hard. I’ve heard this conclusion couple of years ago from John Gage’s keynote at COFES and I like it very much. It precisely explains why software programs and IT projects are failing despite brilliant code and amazing technological achievements. PLM vendors need to think how to connect their software to an individual engineer to make it more successful in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image credit Angry Engineer.


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