Why PLM selection is about data access problem first?


How to select PLM? Manufacturing companies, industry pundits and vendors are trying to simplify this process. Nevertheless, after almost three decades, the problem is still on the table. PLM sales is value based and unfortunately requires to juggle too many people and events together. I see this process as a combination of technological choices, company practices and vendor selection.

I recently came to few notable PLM blog articles focusing on different aspects of PLM selection. My long time industry colleague and blog buddy Jos Voskuil put an article PLM Selection – Additional thoughts. Take a time and read Jos’ article – it contains many good recommendations and options to check when you trying to select PLM system such as – organizational requirements, implementation specifics, cost and even vendors FUD. The last one was interesting and I specially liked this passage:

My recommendation to a company that gets involved in FUD during a PLM selection process, they should be worried about the company spreading the FUD. Apparently they have no stronger arguments to explain to you why they are the perfect solution; instead they tell you indirectly we are the less worst.

Another article I came across is a publication in CL2M portal. A short writeup by Scott Cleveland is interesting – Why PLM? Scott is also mentioning multiple reasons to get involved into PLM. One of them is about "looking for information" effort was caught my special attention. It comes as a first problem one of his client was trying to solve by implementing of PLM. Here is how Scott explains that:

Looking for Information: He told me about the time his engineers spend looking for ‘stuff’ [like drawings and files]. I said this is a problem everywhere. I told him there have been many studies performed analyzing the time it takes engineers to find ‘stuff’, and all of them say that, without document management software, engineers can spend as much as 25% of their time looking for ‘stuff’.

He said he couldn’t put a figure on it, but believes that could be true at his company. He also mentioned that at some point the engineer will stop looking and just recreate the missing information. He said this is a killer. First it wastes project time and second, it leads to duplicate part numbers and possible errors caused by the duplicate drawings.

All together, it made me think about how to get information access into the central place of PLM selection process. Getting access to the information from multiple devices, organization locations and at any time becomes an absolutely must requirement any vendor should answer before getting into future PLM evaluation. Otherwise, you will be sinking into people inefficiency every day.

What is my conclusion? We live in the era when access to information becomes mission critical. Your design can lead to much more expensive options. You can potentially select wrong supplier. You can miss delivery dates. However, the most important is to note time aspect. Engineers are spending lots of time looking for "stuff". This is the problem nobody can tolerate any more. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

2 Responses to Why PLM selection is about data access problem first?

  1. RealTimeRick says:

    Hi Oleg,

    A couple of quick comments:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    The ‘looking for stuff’ problem, and even some of the exact phrases above could be taken from white papers on the value of Group Technology in the 1970s….

    “, it leads to duplicate part numbers and possible errors caused by the duplicate drawings.”

    with all of the advances of technology and process, some things never change.

    I would also postulate that some engineers would rather design new than look for old. Creative vs. clerical work, I don’t blame them.

    Steven Wolfe once said that Group Technology was like eating your spinach. Everybody knows it’s good for them, but no one enjoys it.

    The names and technologies have changed, but the fundamental issue still remains…

    On another topic:

    I also read Jos’ blog, and while I agree that FUD may not be a ‘noble’ strategy for we software vendors, it is often difficult, if not impossible to get closer than arms length to the prospect. FUD is a reaction to the frustration of the typical ‘vendor selection’ process, which involves a) trying to quantify the un-quantifiable, b) weighting features based on a criteria that is often not shared with the vendor, and c) not sharing with the vendor who their competition is….

    In PLM (and my new world of eProcurement), how you compete is predicated on who you are competing with. A strength against one competitor may be a weakness compared to another.

    By not sharing the bidders list, the client is ultimately depriving THEMSELVES of valuable information.

    – RTR

  2. @Rick, thanks for bringing back memories :). What you say is related to people and problems related to people. Technologies are changing, but people are remaining the same. We cannot solve people’s problem with technologies. Best, Oleg

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