Thursday, October 31, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of PLM!

Since today is Halloween, I thought it would be a perfect time to review some of the aspects of PLM that make people afraid to take the leap. There really is no reason to be afraid of PLM, but many people listen to the market hype, and some vendor hype, and then some user experiences, and they get scared. There is no reason to fear PLM!

Fear #5: PLM value is impossible to measure

There are many ways to measure the value of PLM. Many companies do not take the time to do an assessment before they launch a PLM initiative. Time spent at the beginning to gauge where you company is today with a view of the improvements PLM will bring allows you to understand the value of PLM to your company. A simple spreadsheet will allow you to identify metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will support PLM as the implementation progresses. These KPIs can be used to keep executives aware of all the great benefits that come when PLM is rolled out to the enterprise.

Fear #4: PLM technology is unproven

There are many companies that have used PLM technologies to improve their business. There are also new technologies that are poised to make an impact on PLM and how it is deployed: mobility, the cloud, virtualization, direct modeling, social PLM, agile methodologies, and more. There will always be new technology but that's no reason to delay your PLM implementation. Start working today so you are ready to deploy new technologies when the time comes. This will put you ahead of your competitors and give you an advantage.

Fear #3: PLM adoption is low

Implementing PLM is a complex project that requires the cooperation of multiple organizations. Companies that do good upfront planning always see a strong adoption of PLM solutions across the company. Plans for data migration, cultural change management, system integration, PLM benefits assessment, process changes, and testing must be created before rolling PLM out to the company. When management understands that PLM is a strategic company initiative they will not treat it like a simple piece of software. We see very high adoption when the planning of PLM is given a high priority.

Fear #2: PLM takes too long to implement

Like any strategic enterprise technology deployment, PLM will take time to implement. However, we recommend a phased approach that provides company benefits as early as possible. Try starting with PDM and visualization as your first phase, and you will see a great deal of success across the entire enterprise. It doesn't have to take a long time to see huge benefits from PLM. But remember, PLM never ends. There will always be a need to plan the next implementation, and coordinate the next roll-out.

Fear #1: PLM is too expensive

Does PLM cost money? Yes. Did ERP cost money? Yes. Usually many more times than what you will spend on PLM. Put PLM in the proper perspective. PLM is a strategic investment just like ERP. No one expects ERP to be inexpensive and quick, do they? Now, take a deep breath and plan the proper way to spend you budget for PLM, just like you did with ERP; doesn't that feel better?


The benefits of PLM have been realized by many companies in many industries for many years. Do the right upfront planning, educate your executives, and coordinate the implementation with your key users and you will have success with PLM.

What do you think?



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why is Social PLM DOA?

For the past two years I have heard many technology vendors touting the benefits of social tools. No one can miss the astounding uptake of such solutions as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and others. There have been many articles on the value that social tools can bring to your business. However, the uptake of social tools within Engineering organizations in the guise of social PLM has been very low; possibly non-existent.

Why is this the case? Is there no value in Engineering for social tools, or is it just hard to exploit these tools in the product development environment? There is clearly a need for more social collaboration during product design, so it would stand to reason that these social tools would have some value. As I have introduced many engineers to Social PLM in my PLM Certificate Education classes, I have often wondered about the lack of enthusiasm for these kinds of tools.

I think there are three main reasons for this lack of excitement for the potential value of Social PLM:

1) Age - Most of the people in my classes are not young. No offense, but most of you are pretty old, uh, I mean experienced. Very few are linked up with the tools teenagers user every day. Many of these experienced engineers look at Facebook and Twitter as huge time wasters with no real value. Some of my students are just now learning to text...what? Come on!

2) Email dependence - I am old enough to remember when some people called email a fad. Now we have become dependent on 100s of emails invading our in-box each day. When you tell most Engineers that there is something that might one day replace email, it's like telling them you are taking away their favorite slide rule (I remember those too); the push-back is predictable.

3) Separate software applications - All of the Social PLM tools I have seen are delivered as separate software applications that must be learned. An Engineer is not going to leave the CAD/CAM/PDM/email environment to learn and use another application, unless required.

So, what is the answer? In my opinion, until we have social tools embedded into the native PDM applications that Engineers are using today to do their work, social PLM uptake will be slow. Look at some of what is available today: SocialLink from PTC, 3DSWYM from Dassault, Teamcenter Community from SiemensPLM, and a host of point solutions: Yammer, Jive, Vuuch, etc... Many of these social solutions are based on MS Sharepoint, and they bring the inherent limitations of that tool. All of these software solutions also require the engineer to learn some type of new tool. I just don't see that happening very quickly.

I hope to see social features moved from standalone software solutions into the PDM environment, where they are easy to use, and readily available. Then, I think you will see Engineers and others start to use them, and they will begin to see the value of social PLM tools for product design.

What do you think?



Friday, October 4, 2013

Let's Take a Ride on the Hyperloop!

Have you heard of the Hyperloop? No, it's not a new roller-coaster at Cedar Point (the best amusement park for roller coasters in the US, in case you're wondering). The Hyperloop is a proposed transportation method deisgned by Elon Musk, creator of PayPal, and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Yes, he is a very creative guy. I was reading an article about the Hyperloop, and how a few people at Autodesk have imagined a few updates to the original design.

This innovative concept of how we might travel in the future is very intriguing. Imagine traveling in a tube at up to 700 MPH from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. These tubes could be strung all over the place and allow us to speed around from place to place very quickly. The folks at Autodesk are proposing carbon fiber to make the tubes lighter and stronger. In fact, they have some good ideas that might even make this kind of project feasible.

How about your business? Do you look at new technologies and think about how they can be used to make you more successful in the future? Or, do you spend most of your time running around fighting fires, and working over-time to push products out the door. It goes without saying that PLM will be required to support new technologies that transform your business.

What new technology are you studying to make your business better? There are many new ways of working that could have a tremendous impact on your future customers: the cloud, mobility, big data analysis, social PLM, and more. If you ignore these new opportunities, your competitors might get there before you.

Does it make sense to hurtle around in a tube? Would you be willing to try it? Remember, people scoffed at many technologies that we now take for granted:

"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

What do you think?

- Jim