PLM Prompt: Enterprise Buzzwords or How Many Applications Do We Need?

September 28, 2009

Picture 2Interesting post few days ago. What is very annoying is the number of buzzwords growing in the enterprise system world. Do we really need all of them? Is there overlap? How many times you faced situation when you and your colleagues are using different words for the same thing?

Here is the short list (thanks to Improve Process Blog)

• CAD (Computer aided design) to support modeling of hardware and electrical/electronics
• PDM (Product data management) systems to support data management
• PLM (Product lifecycle management) systems to support workflow, engineering change, bill of material management, release to manufacturing etc.
• MES (Manufacturing execution systems) to manage work in progress on the manufacturing floor
• CRM (Customer relationship management) systems manage, track and organize its data / contacts with its current and prospective customers
• BPM (Business process management) systems provide process management capability with workflows
• SCM (Supply chain management) systems provide the ability to manage the entire supply chain and support planning, sourcing, manufacturing, delivery and return logistics.
• KM (Knowledge management) to support knowledge sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
• SRM (Supplier relationship management) to support managing vendor relations and lifecycle.
• PPM (Project Portfolio Management) systems used for analyzing and collectively managing a group of current or proposed projects.
• BI (Business intelligence) systems help the business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context.
• EMM (Enterprise Marketing Management) systems manage marketing’s end-to-end internal processes including Web Analytics, Campaign Management, Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, Marketing Resource Management, Marketing Dashboards, Lead Management, Event-driven Marketing, Predictive Modeling etc.
• HRMS (Human resource management system) or HRIS (Human resource information system) manage all processes within human resources.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: Non-PLM as an opposite to PLM?

September 7, 2009

Picture 10Reading Vuuch post “Do Opposite Attract in Business Process?”, I decided to go future and think about opposites in PLM. And I have to acknowledge, this is hot topic, especially when you come to sales point, cost and ROI. I want to come later with more detailed analyzes of what non-PLM can do different, in my view and opposite to PLM.

My today, prompt is just initial set of questions to you:

1. What is opposite to PLM and how do you see it in the market (I believe non-PLM is not very attractive)?
2. Do you think companies that distant their offering from PLM strategies doing something different?
3. Can we make PLM from non-PLM pieces?

I’m coming with longer post on this later this week and meanwhile will be looking forward to your comments and thoughts.

Best, Oleg

Can we scale PLM down?

September 1, 2009

Picture 1Originally, PLM was born to provide solution for big enterprise customers. Aerospace, Defense, Automotive… these are original roots of today PLM kings. But, since we are moving forward many companies started to investigate in possibility to take PLM ideas to different domains, industries as well as apply it to be used for smaller customers and not only to industrial behemoths like  aerospace and automotive OEMs. In your comments, I got few requests to raise this topic on blog and discuss, so here we go. I don’t expect to finish this topic in one post, so today I want to talk about fundamental grounds behind topic of PLM for different company sizes. I’d like to put few buckets to make our discussion more structured.

Marketing. Just to make things clear. We live in dynamic world that creates multiple opportunity for product marketing. I believe marketing around PLM is very strong and interesting. One day we discuss it too, but not today. I think customer’s demands are similar if we talk to them about their needs such as product cost, regulation needs and distributed development and manufacturing. PLM marketing is focusing on explaining how PLM can solve these problems, but won’t be the only solution for these problems and needs solving. I raised these issues multiple times before discussing how different product and technologies can be positioned to solve the same (or similar needs).  

Company IT. When I think about PLM of different scales and different organizations, the first thing come to my mind is what IT organization company have. Obviously IT of big enterprise won’t be equivalent of small business IT combined from very few people. So, ability of IT to handle operational and technological issues are crucial to understand what type of PLM technology we need to come with.

Technology. So, we agreed – we need different PLM technologies. In my view, these days we are facing a very significant wave or technology and business/technology combination. Microsoft is coming up to enterprise very actively. Traditional big-IT focused companies like IBM, Oracle and others are trying to establish their strategic position. On opposite side, SaaS and Cloud technologies becomes more mature and attractive for enterprises. I think, companies of different sizes will be deciding also based on technological choice. So, PLM companies need to be prepared to multiple offering or understand niches of technological marketplaces

Company Processes and Organization. When IT abilities and Technological preferences are fundamental things companies will analyze, issue such as company processes are definitely need to be taken into account when you come with PLM-bag to organization. What is good for big companies won’t fit way smaller customers are doing their business. Smaller organization are always will be more agile, connected and open compared to bigger enterprise and therefore, will be focusing on different priorities and needs.  So, don’t develop very complex ECO for the company of 100 people and 5 engineers.

So, what is my conclusion today? Different companies are doing business in different way. There is strong influence of IT, Technologies and Organization processes on the way product development and manufacturing systems need to be established, implemented in supported. I’d be thinking about next discussion with more specific themes and looking forward for your comments.

Best, Oleg.

6 factors impacting PLM industry today

July 28, 2009

I think, PLM evolved for the last few years to become accepted by many companies. Started from bigger auto- and aero- companies and finally coming to smaller manufacturers, supply chain and various industry verticals. Today, I want to discuss top factors that influence PLM. These factors are combination of technologies, economical situation and people demands.

Complexity in Manufacturing

I’d like to start from this one. Our life becomes more complex and manufacturing becomes complex. Lots of constraints, economical situation, business model changes, globalization, energy constraints, industry re-structuring. Our life is much more dynamic in comparison to what we had 10 years ago. So, how to help manufacturing companies to manage their digital life around all these things? Product Lifecycle Management is one of the answers. To establish control and lifecycle of all product IP, to connect to other enterprise applications, to enable social networking, to allow to potential consumers to touch future products… This is the only partial list of what PLM can do. The most important, in my view, for the future is that PLM will provide simple solution for this complex problem.

Compliance and Regulation

Next big thing in manufacturing in my view. Multiple compliance and regulation acts came to the game and impacting manufacturing in very severe way. Multiple new compliance requirements and regulation needs is additional cost manufacturers need to pay. Their product development, supply chain and other systems are not ready to provide answer to all these regulations. This is definite opportunity for Product Lifecycle Management. PLM should come as solution to solve these problems and change business processes in organizations.

Collaboration Software

A lot of things PLM is doing are related to ability to multiple participants of product development, manufacturing, supply chain to collaborate. At the same time, I’m observing significant changes in ways collaborative software came to our regular consumer-oriented life. Internet, Google, iPhone, Laptops, Twitter, Facebook etc. This is only short list of players and influencers. All of them make our life more digital, but at the same time introduce different standards for “collaboration”. In my view, consumer market will impact significantly business software. And PLM, with needs to collaborate, probably will be one of the first in the list to be impacted. We cannot collaborate on digital representation of a product which will not be as cool as iPhone based and manage processes with software much more complex than Facebook/Twitter. In addition to consumer impact on Collaboration, new collaborative features came to the portfolios of big platform providers. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and others have collaborative and social software in their bags. PLM needs to take it into account and jump over, to take advantages of them.

Content Management

Big IT providers and additional specialized companies put significant focus to improve capabilities of content management software. It started as software to manage documents, today, content management provides wide range of capacities to manage content and processes in the company. Enterprise Content Management created a significant overlap with Product Lifecycle Management on the level of digital content. Future development of ECM and their belonging to big IT portfolios will be additional impact on PLM roadmaps.

SaaS / On Demand

I don’t need to talk and explain SaaS and On Demand models. Many people today are asking how possible to introduce these technologies and business models to product development and more specifically to PLM. After few initial tries, we can see multiple big IT, ERP and PLM players are coming to this space. The biggest challenge for PLM companies in SaaS and On Demand that I see is potential disassembly of PLM portfolios to many small services that companies will use. When it is definitely good for customers, it will be business challenge for today’s providers selling big portfolio on premise. Additional challenge related to SaaS and On-Demand is to provide answer for IP protection and security.

Low cost solutions and Future Challengers

This is last, but definitely not least. MS Office, SharePoint, PDM Collaboration, Content Management on demand, Open source… These and many other solutions are a threat for PLM exclusivity and ability to support product development collaboration and product IP management. PLM better be aware about these solutions and build PLM strategy that will allow to provide right answer at the right time. Future coming free MS Office 2010 Online, and Google Wave will become next PLM challengers in the organizations.

So, to conclude, I think PLM has a lot of challenges to find a right way to their existing and future customers in the context of these trends. The right balance of solution/values will be key to succeed. I’m looking forward to your comments and discussions.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: The Future of PLM Platforms

July 9, 2009

oracle platformThe following press release two days ago drove my attention. Kalypso, the world’s premier innovation consulting firm, announces the launch of PLM Vivo, a new pre-configured product lifecycle management (PLM) solution designed for the food and beverage industry. If you dig inside you find out that Vivo built on top of Oracle Agile PLM for Process.

From the same press release -PLM Vivo comes configured with Kalypso templates, workflows, core data, and profiles specific to the food and beverage industry that is based on best-in-class implementation practices. The pre-configured PLM Vivo solution not only reduces setup time, it also provides a straightforward path for legacy data migration, enables rapid business process documentation, and facilitates swift user adoption.

So, my PLM prompt today is maybe we have a future trend toward separation into PLM platforms providers and providers of pre-configured out of the box applications providing focused industry knowledge? Just my thoughts… what do you think?


5 Ways To Become Open PLM Industry

July 7, 2009

I think everybody wants to be open these days. We are moving from the closed world to the open world. Information exchange, News, Social Software, Enterprise 2.0… this is only short list of examples. Thinking about PLM as an industry, I came to the conclusion that our industry is relatively closed and it probably impacts us in general. I started to figure out how it is possible to build open Product Lifecycle Management. These thoughts are not necessarily related to specific products or companies. This is something broader and spreads between communities, industry and technology…

I’ve thought about five possible ways to build Open PLM:

  1. Evangelism. In today’s modern society, evangelists are people that promote ideas and technologies related to a particular product or industry. We need such people.  Not only the people who promote PLM of particular company, but also people who have cross-product knowledge, promote ideas and principles of Product Lifecycle Management. We need to have more cross-functional people that are able to become evangelists.
  2. Learning from the past experience. We should not be afraid of learning from the past and talk about mistakes and things that went wrong. Everybody make   mistakes and our industry needs to learn from these mistakes. We need to make honest and open assessments of our past successes and failures.
  3. Building connections. We have lots of people in this industry called CAD/CAE/PDM/PLM…. We need to be able to collaborate cross teams, people, companies, customers and other communities – smoothly. It will allow us to function in more efficient way.
  4. Creating One-Stop place to share information. I know one stop shop for everything, which is probably called Google… or Blog (Better Listening on Google). However, talking seriously, we depend on each other, and the ability to get one-stop place to see most of the industry-related information is one of the keys.
  5. Solving problems of  customers. Finally, PLM needs to solve customers’ problems. Whatever company products are, PLM needs to create perception of something that works efficiently, provides value and, yes, SOLVES PROBLEMS.   The purpose is that customers will come to us and   make us stronger.

So far, I understand these are probably not simple steps to go. Even so, I believe it’s possible… What do you think?

Enterprise 2.0 Checklist for PLM

July 1, 2009

I want to discuss Enterprise 2.0. This term started to be popular during the last two-three years and stands for technologies and best practices around so called “social software”,  according to the main mature components such as wiki and blogs. In my view, although the functional definition of Enterprise 2.0 is still very fuzzy, the need for Enterprise 2.0 type of software is emerging and growing fast. Lately, we’ver heard many messages from Product Lifecycle Management software providers about the importance of social software for PLM. I’m sure you had a chance to see “Social Innovation” or “Social Product Development” initiatives presented by leading PLM vendors during this year.

So, with such an introduction,  I wanted to start a discussion about Enterprise 2.0 and PLM paths. Are these co-directed? Can Product Lifecycle Management leverage Enterprise 2.0 or vice versa?

I also had a chance to read Wikipedia’s definition of <Enterprise 2.0> and also was reading The State of Enterprise 2.0 by Dion Hinchcliff. I wanted to start with a checklist of what exists in Enterprise 2.0 and compare it with how we perceive Product Lifecycle Management within this definition.

In the very early view and definition of Enterprise 2.0 according to Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 elements are defined as a SLATES model. So, let’s take a look at every element of this definition. Actually, I found it very interesting from the practical standpoint of Product Lifecycle Management.

Search – I think that the definition of search in the enterprise lacks maturity at the present. Enterprise Search vendors are focusing on document search and information discovery in the Enterprise. At the same time, <Search> has become a very important function in everyday life and many of our daily activities has changed as a result of the “search revolution”. Product Lifecycle Management is doing a lot of things that require an improved way of managing data about products ─ being able to find this data is one of the most important functions.

Links – URI and URL are two fundamental things allowing connections of information in a Web-enabled enterprise. PLM manages a lot of “connected” things such as product definitions, relevant documents etc. PLM can reuse a lot from models that have already been developed and will be developed in the future for Enterprise 2.0.

Authorship – Enterprise 2.0 has changed the way people perceive their roles with regards to creating and using information. In PLM, the function of creating (or designing) was belonging many years to Development/R&D/Engineering. These days Enterprise 2.0 is changing it and introduces new way to involve people to create product and services. This is will be very important for the future.

Tags – This is something that is very usable and provides an open and simple for people. For years, PLM has been classifying things mostly in a taxonomical way. I had a chance to write about tagging before and I think that the role of Tags in the future model of PLM will be increased.

Extensions – I see extensions as a natural way to grow. I think that the application of extension methods can allow us to gain a better understanding of product development and the customer environment. We can find a way to reuse these patterns to develop new products and services.

Signals – I think people need to be able to interact ─ within Product Development, in the Supply Chain, in the customer’s ecosystem. Adoption of “signals” can provide PLM with the ability to interact in a new way.

So, time will tell how the Enterprise 2.0 model will be developed in the near future, and how new software products will be developed and even change this model. It’s clear that many of Enterprise 2.0 characteristics were created as result of a major dissatisfaction with the current state of enterprise software.  Enterprise 2.0 needed a change that would adopt new methods of working and have an impact on the environment.

I’m very interested to know your opinion and views on this topic and am looking forward to discussing this in my next posts.

What is the Engineer’s Social Formula for PLM?

May 4, 2009

Over the past few months, I have seen an increased volume of discussions related to the connection between CAD/PDM/PLM space and Social Networking. These discussions took place in different blogs and communities. I blogged about this several times in the following posts:

Serious Joke – Why CAD needs to Tweet?

Process Thinking with the Development of Social Collaborative Business Processes for PLM

How PLM can reuse SharePoint Social Network Capabilities?

The Social Bill of Material Tools Dream

In addition, I found some very interesting posts on this topic by – A Twitter World, Fad or Here to Stay? and on some other blogs.

Below you can see how the Social Networking trend has been growing steadily over the past few years:


Now, what about Engineers and Designers? After reading all blogs and discussions, I can definitely say that , there are two major opinions: (1) Social Networking is a new reality and Engineers need to live immersive into this new space; and (2) Social Networking is not related much to the Engineering professional space. It needs to be mediated by marketing and other people “watching outside” that need to help properly spice the “social soup”

Which opinion is correct? I have very mixed feelings about these two opinions as I see them both as being very far from the truth. On one side, I completely agree – Engineers, like any other people involved in the creative process, need to have an environment where they will NOT be burdened by various non-systematic impacts. It’s very hard to navigate between opinions, expressions and meanings of today’s social collaboration. On the other side, I don’t believe that isolation can work well these days. Our world is flat and we need to manage a broad coverage of people’s needs, opinions, and feedback To involve engineers in this social system will provide them with a very natural way to interact with their users. Sometimes, this experience have a unique impact on what an engineer can do.

My recipe for a secret engineering social soup follows:

1. Allow engineers to be involved in social networks. Provide them with the capabilities to interact with their worlds – both on the inside and on the outside. Get feedback and introduce engineers’ opinions.

2. Support engineers with additional tools and capabilities that will allow them to separate the engineering environment, as needed. Systems can switch off, wait, don’t disturb – there are so many ways that have been invented by social and communication systems.

3. Make (1) and (2) work effectively by providing engineers with enough analytical,  business intelligence and representation tools that will give them a balanced and representative view about what is going on outside, in the social networks.

4. Make social networks work in their professional organizations too. So, the engineering environment will reveal communities within their own organizations and reuse social network capabilities inside and outside of the organization in the same way.

Combination of these three capabilities will allow the engineering community to get new dimensions in leveraging Social Networking capabilities for development of new and innovative products.

What is your view on this?

How to Improve Engineering Change Processes using Enterprise 2.0 Technologies?

April 22, 2009

I think that using Enterprise 2.0 technologies for Product Lifecycle can bring significant improvement in implementation and services. Today’s traditional approach is to use workflow-based tools to implement ECO processes. Is this good? Yes, it’s probably good, but at the same time, establishing such implementation can be relatively complex. You need to rely on database management tools and process management infrastructure. This is expensive. What alternative do we have today? I noticed that there is an emerging group of software which is starting to be referred to as Enterprise 2.0. Although there isn’t a consolidated agreement as to the scope of Enterprise 2.0 software, but there does seem to be a reference to a group of software tools and technologies that use Web tools for collaboration.

So, a typical, traditional ECO implementation includes the following components: Data, Process and Collaboration. Data allows you to keep information about ECO and link to the relevant CAD files located in a vault. Process allows you to set up a workflow to pass ECO information and requests among people in an organization. Collaboration tools are dedicated tools that allow you to present connected information about change and design to users. Collaboration tools normally include data and visual tools. Most of such implementations today are based on proprietarily rich (windows) clients and web tools. Workflow implementations in most cases rely on proprietary process tools, and sometime rely on IT process middleware. Overall, such implementation requires significant planning of everything – starting from ECO data through down to processes and people communication.

How we can make this implementation simpler and cut implementation costs? First of all – managing of all data natively in RDBM can be replaced by an implementation based on Wiki. This would allow us to keep information about ECO and reuse regular Web wiki editing tools to put information there. Depending on the Wiki engines you choose, you will have already user interface (web like) and data capture capabilities. You can tag this information and make it easy to search using desktop and/or enterprise search engines. Approvals and ECO process can be part of associated Wiki page data and ad-hoc collaboration. To establish more formal process you can use built-in workflow engines (i.e. Windows Workflow Foundation etc.). And last but not least is collaboration. Your environment can be Web-based and use all Web-based collaboration tools, and co-editing web pages. Additional power is that all ECO information can be easily shared as regular URLs. Additional interest can be gained by using subscription models similar to RSS. These can easily be applied on native web data and gives you the ability to use organizational information to discover which people to whom you should connect..

I believe, we are only in the beginning of Enterprise 2.0 tools introduction in organization, but for me it looks very promising…

How can PLM use Social Search to develop the next innovative products?

April 13, 2009

Personalization is one of the today’s trends in product development. More and more manufacturers are discovering the ability to develop products that fit particular customer demands. What is especially interesting is to be able to design and develop products following social demands. I think involvement of individuals in product development is a very interesting trend we are watching now. People are interesting to be involved into product design, they want to impact.

This is place where, I think, today’s PLM technologies can leverage some latest development in the field of Web 2.0 and more specifically, social search. In the chain of social influence –> people demands –> people –> product requirements –> product development, <people> are the missing link in the chain. If we can stay connected with people during the full product development cycle, we can find the special power we are missing.

Social networks today provide the ultimate source of information and connection to people’s minds. How can we use it practically and connect product development to people behaviors, wishes, interests and preferences? I will try to translate this need into practical technological requirements:

1. The ability to mine data in social networks according to specific product behaviors, requirements, needs.

2. To allow people to impact by providing feedback on ongoing product development.

I will take as an example the development of the next model of mobile devices such as mobile phone, GPS system or PDA. Development of these type of products have very a short timeframe which needs to focus on the assembly of the most important requirements for the next product model. These requirements include product features, product look and feel and they need to balance with the right product price to fit a specific customer segment. So, what if the product development environment based on PLM system capabilities were able to mine social networks and the assembly summary of people’s demands? This sounds promising to me… but is only the half of it. The other half is the ability of PLM systems to expose information about a future developed product using social media tools in the social networks , and collect people’s feedback. Now we have a closed loop of product development with social involvement.

I’d like to write a few words about what products example I see today. First of all, the development of vertical search tools. These search tools are tuned for specific needs and can discover particular trends in all available social media – blogs, wikis, Internet forums etc. Next is a search developed specially to follow information in social networks – Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc. And finally, development of tools allowing us to expose Product Content (design, features, functional characteristics) out of current development systems (CAD, Industrial Design Tools etc.).

I’m very interested to hear your voices in this discussion – from the standpoint of product development tools as well as a consumer of various products.


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