Friday, December 27, 2013

The Top 7 Posts of 2013

As the year comes to an end, we inevitably think of where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. To help you along, I offer this look back at the top post of 2013. Looking back is only good if it helps us move forward, so take a look at these posts, and then go and get it done with PLM in 2014.

Configuration Management

Let's start with the 7th most popular post from 2013. Actually it was very close to a tie, so I will introduce these two together. The Basics of Configuration Management - Part I and The Basics of Configuration Management - Part II were very close. As a bonus, let me throw in The Basics of Configuration Management - Part III. This proves my point that configuration management is poorly understood by most companies. Even if a company has taken the time to understand and implement a good configuration management practice the rules are often not enforced, and usually not followed. Take these three posts as a guide to doing a better job with configuration management in 2014. You might also enjoy a related post: Change Management: The Ghost in the Machine.

Cultural Change Management

My impression over the past year is that one of the most challenging activities related to PLM implementation is cultural change management. Often, it is not even considered until the solution is rolled out and in the hands of the users; this is too late! Take my post Cultural Change Management, or How I Saved PLM as a good example. I wrote this in a short story format, and I think you will like it. If not, at least it's short.

PLM Education

I am a big proponent of PLM education. Virtually every company I have visited this year needed more PLM education. Keep this in mind for 2014 and put PLM education in your budget early in the year. The 4th most popular post from 2013 was this one: PLM Education Done Right in 3 Easy Steps. Follow these steps to get the most from PLM.

How to Measure the Value of PLM

We often do surveys, and when we ask for the top impediments to PLM, one of the top answers is always measuring PLM value. Without a way to measure the value, it is often hard to get upper management to invest in PLM. The 3rd most popular post of 2013 was How Can You Measure The Value of PLM, which, it turns out, is a very good question. Without some way to measure the value of PLM there is no way to evaluate your success, and plan for future updates. Keep this in mind as you plan your changes in 2013, and find a good way to measure this important aspect of your business.

Social PLM

There have been many posts about social PLM, or how social tools will impact the activities that are traditionally part of PLM. But in my experience, the impact of social PLM has been very low, or nil. Why is this the case? I dove into this question in my post Why Has Social PLM Failed? I think we will see a better meshing of PLM and social tools in 2014. There certainly is an opportunity to enhance PLM with social tools, but PLM vendors will need to do a better job of integrating these tools into their solutions. This may take some time, but we will see it some day; I just hope I live long enough. You might also want to read a related post: Why is Social PLM DOA? I like the graphic I used here; very creepy.


I am amazed how often I am asked about the difference between PLM and ERP. There exists a very different set of views on this topic depending on who you ask. I addressed this in my most popular post of 2013: PLM vs ERP: Can't We All Just Get Along? This was an attempt to give some clarity to this polarizing topic. I think companies need to come together and decide where they will put the dividing line. Obviously it is not a clear demarcation, and there will always be some overlap. Just agree and then implement consistently to get the best results.


So, there you have it, the top posts from 2013. I hope that 2014 will be a very successful year for your PLM implementation. No matter where you start you can always improve, and PLM can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. I wish you all the best in the coming year!

Don't forget to read one of my favorite posts from 2013: Email: "I'm not dead yet!" PLM: "But you're not well." I really like that one!



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Claim the Benefits of PLM

If you asked 10 people in your company to give you a definition of PLM, you would likely get 10 different answers. That's because people have very different experiences with PLM, or maybe a lack of experience with PLM. To claim the benefits of PLM there are some steps you must follow. This post will not try to mention every single step that you must follow, that would take way too long and I want to eat lunch. But, this list represents some of the key activities that you must follow in order to claim the full benefits of PLM for your business:


The first step in any PLM activity is to education everyone. By that I mean the executives, the PLM team participants, and others that will be supporting your PLM initiative. Once people are education, and they understand the comprehensive nature of PLM, they will be more likely to support your efforts. A good PLM definition to start with is:
  • PLM is the collaborative creation, use, management & dissemination of product related intellectual assets.
Some key aspects of PLM include the following:
  • PLM is a strategic business approach, not just a collection of technologies.
  • PLM supports the extended enterprise.
  • PLM spans the full product life-cycle, from concept to end of life.
Once you have educated people about PLM, you will be able to have important discussions about your business on a level playing field. When everyone is on the same page regarding PLM, you will find that making progress is much easier. To claim the benefits of PLM for your business, you must educate your people.

Information Management

Managing the information within your business is one of the core features of PLM. Without managing your information (intellectual assets), you won't be able to have the confidence to make decisions. This leads to delays, mistakes, redundant reviews, unnecessary signatures, and an overall inefficient business process. Until you can manage your information effectively, and guarantee that all information is valid, complete, and available, you will struggle to claim the benefits of PLM for your business.

PLM is Strategic

Understanding the strategic nature of PLM will lead you to seek out more understanding about your strategic business objectives. Once you understand the strategic direction of your business, you can craft a PLM vision that supports your business. This leads to a long list of business requirements. This, along with other requirements will drive the selection and implementation of PLM in your business.

In order to claim the benefits of PLM you must consider three important factors:
  • People - How will people be encouraged and supported through the changes that PLM will bring.
  • Processes - What new processes are needed to support the implementation of PLM.
  • Technology - What is the proper technology to support strategic business objectives and the PLM vision.
You cannot consider just one of these three in isolation if you want to get the most out of PLM. All three will have a major impact on the success of PLM at your company. Our experience shows us that most of the failed PLM implementation we have seen are not a result of bad technology, but more often a result of process or people issues.

Measure PLM Benefits

It is important to convince your executives, and your users that PLM has benefits. That also means that you need a way to measure and illustrate the degree and timing of PLM benefits. We recommend using a spreadsheet model that allows you to calculate cost vs. benefits and then show a valid ROI for PLM. Once you have charts and graphs of how PLM will impact you business, it becomes much easier to convince others about the value of PLM.

We recommend an early benefits appraisal analysis for feasibility to show the potential benefits of PLM. Do this early and use this to sell PLM to the organization. Then, you can gauge additional benefits as your PLM program progresses to determine the real ROI. This repeatable methodology also allows you to do this benefits analysis as often as needed. To claim the benefits of PLM for your business you will need to sell these benefits to many organizations using a repeatable appraisal methodology.


Making PLM successful requires education, managing your information, strategic planning, and measuring benefits. There are many other activities and plans you will need to be successful with PLM, but if you start with these key items, you will be well on your way to claiming the benefits of PLM for your business.