PLM Implementation Lifecycle Challenges

Implementation of enterprise information systems is a long and painful process. It requires a lot of efforts, investments and planning. ERP and other enterprise backbone technologies (eg Oracle) are good examples. In my view, PLM comes to the same list as Oracle. Yesterday, I had a chance to read CW article – Oracle Blasts Forrester Report On Fusion Applications Adoption. Spend few minutes and read that. Forrester research made a suggestion that Oracle’s customers won’t be interested to update to new Fusion Applications. Forrester defines it as a strategic dilemma – Oracle makes a lot of money from old product lines and at the same time, not many customers are adopting new stuff and tech like Fusion. Oracle criticized Forrester research. Here is a key passage to me -

Oracle has taken a "co-existence" approach to pushing Fusion Applications, wherein an installed base customer would use some Fusion modules alongside their existing E-Business Suite or PeopleSoft implementation. While Forrester mentioned the co-existence concept in its report, in Oracle’s view the research firm gave it short shrift. "Customers can adopt modules of Oracle Fusion Applications incrementally and at their own pace to co-exist with their existing deployments. Never have we forced existing customers to move/migrate out of Oracle Applications Unlimited to adopt Oracle Fusion Applications," the response states. "Customers may not know what to do in the context of their specific implementation as each deployment is more or less specific, but Oracle’s strategy is very clear. We do not have a dilemma." Forrester also failed to adequately acknowledge the investments Oracle is making in its Applications Unlimited products, which include planned future releases and "long lists of enhancements," according to the response.

I found some similarity between Oracle implementation lifecycle and PLM implementations. One of the critical elements of PLM technologies and products is PLM adoption. It takes time to implement and start using PLM in an organization. Earlier this year, I attended PI Congress in Berlin where I had a chance to watch many customer presentations. I called them "big mono-PLM" projects. Every implementation is multi-year, project with a significant budget and long lifecycle. Once implemented in a company, it can be used for a long period of time. However, to maintain it and to upgrade to another system versions is very complicated. If you look over the landscape of existing PLM implementations, you can discover a variety of product, versions and technologies coming from PLM vendors for the last 15-20 years. Because of long implementation cycle and high cost, once implemented, PLM systems live very long lifecycle. Sometimes, it is also a result of a specific industry (the best example I can come with is airline program).

What is my conclusion? I think, the slow lifecycle of PLM systems is a problem. It prevents companies from innovation, adopting new business practices. PLM vendors need to focus on how make PLM implementation agile and lean initially with the ability to update with more features, and modifications. Today, there are too many companies that using old technologies and products because they cannot afford a future step in PLM systems development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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