As of 2012, the term ‘cloud computing’ has gone mainstream. People are no longer limited to their computers to store personal and business information; it makes sense that product lifecycle management (PLM) systems would be the next area to get the cloud facelift. If you’re considering PLM software in the cloud, you need to know the good, the bad, and the ultimate truth.
One of the big pluses of a cloud PLM solution is the savings you experience in the short term. Often cloud-based PLM is offered as a subscription service with monthly fees instead of the large lump sum payment needed to purchase on-premise alternatives. Also with the cloud you’ll reap the benefits involved: reduced hardware reliance, fewer expensive upgrades, and scalability. However, one of the greatest benefits your company will reap is accessibility.
‘Anywhere, anytime’ was once a catch phrase for only a handful of companies, but now this notion has spread to every cloud-based software solution available. Your team can access a cloud PLM system wherever there is an internet connection, which is great for your business, partners and suppliers. The ability to collaborate more effectively through cloud access leads to continuous improvement and greater efficiencies. The innovation in both product and processes reflects positively on your bottom line and gives your company a competitive advantage.
By allowing all facets of the manufacturing process to be easily accessed by everyone involved, companies can consolidate data, remove redundancies, and better manage new initiatives. Universal access for all parties involved also leads to a reduced time to market for you products. Real-time data input, knowledge syncing and forecasting capabilities allow you to remove complications before they arise.
The Bad (but not really)
Critics of cloud PLM systems will cite issues with security and availability as reasons to avoid software in the cloud. With large virtual servers that store your confidential information there’s no doubt that this is a serious threat to consider. That being said, with proper research into the reputation of service providers this risk can be mitigated. Check company policies that address security so you know how your confidential data is stored and what would happen if it was compromised.
Another challenge that you will have to consider is downtime. The information stored in your PLM cloud solution is crucial to your day-to-day operations, so limited access will affect your productivity. Check with the provider to see what kinds of compensation they offer for any downtime experienced. Often times cloud service vendors will list an uptime of 99% or higher and have it in their contract agreements that clients will be reimbursed for any time the service goes down.
The choice of a PLM solution, whether it’s in the cloud or on in-house servers, truly isn’t going to make or break your business. At its core your business needs a strategy for success that moves beyond technicalities and encompasses company culture, industry trends and customer needs. A cloud PLM solution could be a great tool to help you advance your business to the next level. Just remember, it is still in its infancy and feature offerings will likely be expanded as cloud-based PLM systems grow in popularity. Keep your eyes open to see what’s available and what’s in development so that you can find the best solution for your organization.
What do you think?
See my previous post for more on cloud PLM!