Embracing a true PLM platform and solution is not an easy endeavor for many companies, even with the reckoning of the potential value and ROI offered by a rightly architected PLM solution. Success in any Enterprise software implementation like PLM often requires careful planning, dedicated resources , right technical expertise, executive sponsorship, and a receptive culture, among other things. When done the right way the results of such efforts are transformational, producing significant business benefit which can be measured and validated.
One of the biggest challenges to adopting PLM is organizational change management given the breadth and scale of a true PLM solution . Many companies approaches it in phases and rightly so; but the key is how the phases are architected, tracked and measured. PLM involves managing and linking Data, Processes and People together as the product goes through it’s lifecycle from inception to design to manufacturing to support and eventually end of life. The first step of this is often managing Data; specifically Engineering CAD data. Most solutions start with a way to vault the CAD data along with some basic part numbering schemes and revision rules . Sometimes engineering documents are also vaulted along with the CAD data. Yes data vaulted in a central repository brings lot of benefits like elimination of duplicates , basic check-in-checkout / access controls and added search capabilities as opposed to it scattered across multiple locations. But the measured value of this alone may not substantiate the heavy PLM IT investment companies needs to make for a true scalable PLM platform. Sometimes there is an expectation misalignment on the full PLM value and just the data vaulting value . This at times sends companies to a long and lull “PLM assessment” period after data vaulting. Sometimes cultural resistance or organizational change overturns any momentum. Maybe a technical glitch or integration shortfall previously overlooked becomes a deal breaker . Over-scoped and under supported initiative can also run out of money or time.
Companies make a considerable amount of IT investment on the PLM platform upfront, so that they have a scalable solution for all phases and not just CAD vaulting. Most of the time they can add more capabilities and processes on the PLM platform without additional IT investments . So it’s very important to get past the initial data vaulting phase and move to the next phases to maximize the utilization of existing IT investments. Now the question is where do we go after CAD vaulting. This is where upfront PLM Roadmap definition is so important in terms of how the phases are architected, tracked and measured. For companies who have successfully completed data vaulting but do not have a formal PLM Roadmap defined yet, some of the next focus areas to consider can be Engineering process management, BOM Management, Change management , Requirements management , Project and Program management , in no specific order.