How To Fix PLM Industry Dissatisfaction?

March 26, 2010

COFES 2010 is just around the corner, and I had chance to discuss with Brad Holtz of Cyon Research the potential topics to think and discuss towards the event. We touched the issue of the top PLM industry problems and how it comes to the discussion on Daily PLM Think Tank. So, this morning, I made my first BLOG “Better listening on Google” research and shout “PLM dissatisfaction” search. The article with a complete match to my criteria came in the beginning – “Why is Industry Dissatisfied with PLM?” by Frank Lillehagen, and I decided to make a deep dive into this article and to compare it to my thoughts related to the current PLM industry problems.

The main introductory made by Frank is that PLM actually was too late to the “enterprise app dinner” and was built on top of either CAD, CRM, ERP or even PDM. It was interesting to me, since I have never seen PLM system built on top of CRM. However, I think the main point was clear – in the family of the enterprise engineering apps, PLM appears to be a guilty child who needs to explain his rights to exist and prove all the time his organizational and technological ROI. Later in the article divided into sections: 1- What is missed?, 2- PLM capabilities needed, 3- Towards Product Knowledge Architecture, 4- Where do we go from here? Each section presented from 10 to 20 bullets with lists of issues that need to be done or missed. Actually, in my view those are expected to be a single list of issues, but they were presented in different ways.  I made some write up based on the topics that got my special attention:

A PLM architecture should create visual collaborative scenes for proactive behavior and learning-by-doing, enhancing human capabilities and creativity, creating the real-time enterprise, and transforming industrial computing to practical services and work processes.

We need to combine the complementary strengths of computers and humans, in handling and managing data categories, object classes and product families, to provide methods for life-cycle management and reuse.

Huh… It is complex. I must admit, I personally failed to come to the conclusion about the topic after reading this article multiple times. I tried to analyze the list of 20 PLM requirements needs presented by author. However, issue presented there were either completely broad like “Transform IT systems development and industrial computing” or “Support holistic enterprise design of projects, products and work environments” or absolutely theoretical like “Redefine design theory to exploit role-oriented knowledge architectures and product families“.

I almost gave up, nevertheless, the topic of industry dissatisfaction kept me in the focus. Actually, I felt my complete dissatisfaction by my inability to write the conclusion and decided to put my top 3 priority list that can improve the level of PLM Industry Satisfaction. Here we go:

Clean the PLM Language from buzzwords and broad statements. In my view, lack of clarity is absolutely needed as a first step. Customers and industry audience needs to get feeling of simplicity and clarity in definition and implementation.

Open Data Foundation. The main issue here is that currently I observe a huge amount of disruptive data trends in different PLM implementations. Combined with a large amount of legacy data, apps and home grown implementations it created the situation where a significant effort need to move PLM data implementation forward. The potential idea for this foundation is open source data foundation alliance supported by all PLM vendors.

Flexible Integration Capabilities. The integration topic in PLM is currently in the very bad shape. In my view, vendors gave up in their effort to invest into integration. Customers are mostly solving these problems by themselves or by 3rd party products.

An additional issue is social. PLM as an industry needs to come to the level of maturity in their ability to organize PLM events with involvement of multiple mindshare PLM vendors and related to PLM providers and supporters. The understanding of such need is very important. There are an absolute absence of PLM events these days with some small exclusion. The healthy industry needs to be able to consolidate around strong industry leaders and additional technological, vertical, service and other commercial companies.

Just my thoughts… I will continue my “thinking research” and hope to come with some conclusions towards COFES 2010.

Best, Oleg


The Ugly Truth About PLM-ERP Monkey Volleyball

March 5, 2010

I had the chance to read Jim Brown’s post about SAP achievements in PLM. As usual, when PLM and ERP words come to the interplay, a very good discussion can be generated. And this is what I’ve seen this morning. I enjoyed discussion and very interesting comments. Take a look, first and read that. The discussion became hot and separate post was done by Vuuch Voice this morning -PLM Is The Monkey In The Middle.

These posts made me think about what is the fundamental nature of the discussion about PLM and ERP. I see this discussion as a natural part of the overall system development in the organization. Since early beginning of MRP and MRP-II, systems started to accumulate product data in the electronic form. So, data moved from spreadsheets to databases and Excel  spreadsheets. In parallel, design data started to move from paper to CAD and other design systems. Since then, all engineering and manufacturing systems are managing the very interesting interplay on where is data located and how you move this data from one place to another. Now what means this movement? This is something everybody present as a ‘ business process’. Yes, processes are the blood movement in the organizational body. However, the blood cells are actually pieces of data that processes moves around.

The ugly truth is that everybody wants to own the piece of cheesy product data! ERP, PLM, PDM, CAD… Everybody pretends on the part of the product data, but mostly interested how to control it. Everybody in this volleyball game is trying to catch the ball and steer it to their side. ERP is saying Item Master belongs to me! Every time you want to do something, ask me. CAD and CAD-based PLM pretends to be the best in managing product design, configuration and revisions. ERP vendors are trying to steer Bill of Materials by managing overall ECO process. Social software is trying to steer the ball, by saying let’s organize Facebook of design files. Before that time PDM was trying to organize dashboards of data. In parallel, social product development is trying to put data inside of SharePoint… There is an endless number of examples I can bring…

So, what is my conclusion today? There is nothing new in this enterprise data life, but attempt to control data and accumulate data-tolls from enterprise processes’ toll-road. If you are good in organizing this toll-road, the ride won’t be bumpy and data arrives easy and customers will love it. Some of the tolls are mandatory. Try not to pay for CAD system or accounting, for example… It seems to me PLM road is a bit more bumpy in comparison to the ERP one.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


Innovation On The PLM-ERP Edge

January 30, 2010

This post was born as a consequence of on-going conversation with Jim Brown of TechClarity. Jim and I have a long history of discussions on different topics offline, and we are in agreement on many of them. However, in spirit of what Jim called “healthy debates”, I’d like to open our conversation online. I’m sure it will be beneficial for us, and I hope you will find it interesting and practical in the context of thinking about strategy for PLM and ERP implementation planning.

If you haven’t seen our previous posts, I’d recommend you to go and read them first in order to have a taste of context:

PLM vs. ERP – Don’t Manage Innovation!

Mythbusting PLM/ERP Integration

PDM/PLM and ERP are two topics and domains that continue to magnetize huge amount of the attention. In my view, it was true for the last 20 years, and it continues to be true these days too. In the spirit of getting away from three letter acronyms (TLA), I’d like to put below one of the best references on the way to present discrete (or manufacturing) concurrent engineering positioning from the David Ullman’s book: The Mechanical Design Process.

What I like in this process is that it clearly presents the level of the connections in manufacturing enterprise, including logical dependencies between three major domains – Design, Production and Business.

ERP and PLM Domain
In my view, PLM was born in the middle of the Design domain, in the beginning as a system to manage Product Form (CAD) and lately by systems and modules to manage materials (BOMs), functions and facilitate connection with outside domains. The best example I can bring here is the ability of PM to connect market requirements with business needs. If you will ever have a chance to see a successful integration between business/market models (i.e. Sales Configrator) and PLM, you can see how it can be beneficial. So, within the time PLM outgrows Design domain and spread out into some functions related to production and business. In parallel ERP, was “an accounting child”, born to calculate, forecast and provide clear answers on how health your business can operate. Started from Sales, Finance, Prices, Costs and Risk, followed by successful development of MRP and MRP-II topics and, finally, becomes ERP as we know it today.

Roles of PLM and ERP
As every healthy business systems, both ERP and PLM are trying to grow and Production Domain is an obvious common target for both PLM and ERP. Since PLM came from managing the form and materials in product design, the ability to manage product and work-in-process data are much better compared to ERP. At the same time, ERP holds very strong on the ability to mange operational environment. In the very competitive business environment, both domains failed to collaborate successfully and, instead of taking route to manage openness and process transparency moved to the “marketing excellence” by starting to invent slogans like innovation and execution. But, unfortunately, devil is in details and after agreeing about “roles” and “focuses”, you will get back to bits and bytes of design data, EBOMs, MBOMs and processes that span across the organization.

ERP Business in PLM
With the clear competition state of mind, ERP vendors are trying to push technical limits of ERP foundation to manage product design and work-in-progress design information. As much as they come to the business having fewer design roots design roots, the chances to successfully stretch ERP data models and infrastructures are more successful. When you almost cannot see automotive OEM or supplier that decides to manage design product configuration in SAP PLM, you probably will be more lucky to see high tech and telecom companies managing product engineering and manufacturing BOM in ERP. Also, companies tried to reduce the cost of “process management” by concentrating it inside ERP process infrastructure.

Border Between PLM and ERP
I think, to define the right border between PLM and ERP is a very complicated task. I’m almost sure, the results will be very different for various companies even in the same domain. There are lots of factors such as existing systems, implementation, history, legacy stuff, new projects. You can find companies pushing towards implementing CAD/PDM bundles and move process oriented environment towards ERP. You may see companies that put PLM as a global product development environment worldwide, while ERP is local and specific for business in the specific countries. So, I’m sure there are some patterns we can discover. However, try to establish this boarder will be heavily overused by marketing and competitive efforts and in the end will be disruptive for industry. I think PLM and ERP need to establish some common infrastructure and maybe be even open initiatives that can simplify the exchange of the information and process flowing between systems in the organization.

What is my conclusion today? PLM and ERP are a very complicated topic. There are multiple levels of influence starting from completely technical, moving to IT-related  and ending up with very emotional aspects. I hope Jim and I helped you to navigate and find your path in your future PLM/ERP projects.

Getting back to Jim’s post, there is one topic left- innovation. I want to touch it in separate discussion. I will call it my “Golden Eggs Innovation Strategy”. Stay tuned :)…

Best, Oleg


It was good to see the same day Joe Barkai (twitter @joebarkai) from IDC Insight joined our discussion with Jim on twitter and IDC blog: ERP vs. PLM: Debating The Wrong Question?

…So now we are debating PLM vs. ERP.  Some of these discussions have a very strong, and, in my opinion, incorrect undertone of IT architecture debate: who owns what data repository, where are the boundaries, what are the integration points, and so forth.  One blog discussion attempts to separate ERP as the “execution engine” from PLM, which is “innovation focused.”…


Happy 1st Birthday Daily PLM Think Tank!

November 30, 2009

Dear Friends,

One year ago I started Daily PLM Think Tank with this post! Thank you all for support and your voices. Without you it was absolutely impossible to make it. So far, some numbers:

369 posts,

1’949 comments,

131’345 page views.

Here are the top 20 stories on Daily PLM Think Tank for this year:

6 reasons Why Google Wave will Change PLM Collaboration
PLM and Internet of Things
PLM Prompt: Microsoft Kills Mashups and focus on SharePoint
Top Five Disappointing PLM Technologies
SharePoint PLM Paradox?
PLM Prompt: Google Fusion Tables – PLM on Steroids?
PLM Prompt: BPM & PLM Cloud Meeting?
PLM Prompt: What will be PLM Open Source Secret Souce
PLM Prompt: SharePoint FAST Social Move
Should I keep secrets from my PLM system
PLM Architecture: Get Off My Cloud?
Do we need to fix PLM basics?
Seven Rules Towards Single Bill of Material
MS SharePoint 2010 – Is it good for PLM?
PLM Transformation: Easy, No; Costly, Yes
PLM Action Plan for Dummies
PDM vs. PLM – Is this about Process?
MS SharePoint 2010 – Is it good for PLM?
Why Do I Like My PLM Excel Spreadsheet?
Top annoying things about PLM software.

So, I’m looking forward to next year… What would YOU like next?

Best, Oleg

The Notion of Trust in PLM

October 30, 2009

Picture 29This week was signed by a significant event – Dassault Systems announced intent to acquire IBM’s PLM Software distribution activities. In the shadow of this event, I was looking on various publications related to activities of big companies, acquisitions and mergers. One publication, IT leaders trust Microsoft more than Google, 2-to-1 by Jason Hiner, was very interesting. I hardly can estimate how to compare my trust in two huge public companies. My trust-measure-kit failed to designate it. Large and publicly traded companies generate feeling of trust. On the other side, we all know other examples.

However, this publication drove me to think about a very practical topic related to selection of CAD/PLM software and trust in PLM vendors. Choosing of PLM software is not a simple activity. I’ve seen many companies making this decision, and always it is a very complicated process. The nature of this complication, in my view, is that PLM activities have a very long time span. Once started with specific software, you will keep this for multiple projects and products. Even if you’ll decide to change your CAD or PLM software, it will probably reflect your future activity.

I’m not big fun of surveys, but many times selection of PLM vendors reminds me one big survey customer filling in trying to decide what software to choose. In the end, one of the final questions is the question of trust. Big PLM vendors generate feeling of trust and stability. DS and IBM with their history of relationships and trust in IBM big blue brand, Siemens PLM with their famous statement – we never let a customer fail. Do you believe in well-established PLM companies? Stable niche players? Innovative startups? Maybe you trust more in association with big service providers in this space?

These are just my thoughts. I wonder to know how do you see the notion of trust in PLM?

Best, Oleg

PLM Think Tank: Top Discussion for 6 month…

July 12, 2009

Dear Friends,

I’m looking back in the past 6 months. All discussions were absolutely cool…  I enjoyed each and everyone. I think, you will be interested to know what discussions drive your top attention. So, the following posts were absolute leaders in number or readers as well as active participants and comments.


6 reasons Why Google Wave will Change PLM Collaboration

Top Five Disappointing PLM Technologies

SharePoint PLM Paradox?

PLM in economic downturn – Is there a place for second-mover innovation?

PLM Action Plan for Dummies

Open Source: Is the Game Changing for PLM?

Also, I’d like to highlight set of discussions about PLM and MS Excel:

How PLM can beat Excel? Or Blue Ocean’s ideas on how to improve usability…

Why Do I Like My PLM Excel Spreadsheet?

PLM Excel Spreadsheets: From Odes to Woes

I’m looking forward to our future discussion.

Best, Oleg


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