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Last week I started a small series of posts related to the topic PLM 2.0. I was hoping for more comments and discussion about the term PLM 2.0, although I must say I was glad Oleg picked it up in his posts: PLM 2.0 born to die? and Will JT-open enable future of PLM 2.0?
Oleg, as a full-time blogger, of course had the time to draw the conclusions, which will take me another two weeks, hoping meanwhile the discussion evolves. Where Oleg’s focus is on technology and openness (which are important points), I will also explain that PLM 2.0 is a change in doing business, but this will be in next week’s post.
This week I will focus on the current challenges and pitfalls in PLM. And we all know that when somebody talks about challenges, there might be problems.
|Last week||: What is PLM 2.0?|
|This week:||: Challenges in current PLM|
|Next||: Change in business|
|Final post||: Why PLM 2.0 – conclusions|
The Challenges in current PLM
First I want to state that there are several types of definition in the world for PLM, coming from different type of organizations – I listed here two vendor independent definitions:
In industry, product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the business activity of managing a company’s products all the way across the lifecycle in the most effective way. The objective of PLM is to improve company revenues and income by maximizing the value of the product portfolio
And there are more definitions. Just recently, I noticed on the PlanetPTC blog from Aibhe Coughlan a post where she promoted a definition of PLM published in the Concurrent Engineering blog. Here I got immediate a little irritated reading the first words: “PLM is software designed to enhance process efficiencies ……… and more …”
I do not believe PLM is software. Yes there is software used to automate or implement PLM practices, but this definition starts to neglect the culture and process sides of PLM. And as Oleg was faster – read his more extended comment here
(I am not paid by Oleg to promote his blog, but we seem to have similar interests)
Back to the classical definitions
The Wiki definition gives the impression that you need to have an infrastructure to manage (store) all product data in order to serve as an information backbone for the extended enterprise. It becomes more an IT-project, often sponsored by the IT-department, with the main goal to provide information services to the company in a standardized manner.
This type of PLM implementations tends to be the same type of implementation as an ERP system or other major IT-system. In this type of top-down implementations, the classical best practices for project management should be followed. This means:
- A clear vision
- Management sponsorship
- A steering committee
- A skilled project leader and team
- Committed resources
- Power user involvement
- …… and more …
These PLM projects are promoted by PLM vendors and consultants as the best way to implement PLM. And there are a lot of positive things to say about this approach. For many big companies implementing cPDM or PLM was a major step forward. Most of the ROI stories are based on this type of implementations and have been the showcases on PLM events. It is true that data quality increases, therefore efficiency and product quality. Without PLM they would not reach the same competiveness as they have now.
But sometimes these projects go into extreme when satisfying users or IT-guidelines
To avoid the implementation of a ‘new IT-system’, companies often have the strategy that if we already have an ERP-system , let’s customize or extend it, so we can store the additional data and perform workflow processes based on this system.
In a recent webinar, I heard a speaker saying that in their company they had the following automation strategy defined together with IT is:
- First they will see if the needed PLM functionality exists in their ERP system or is part of the portfolio of their ERP provider. If the functionality is there (this means the ERP vendor has the capability to store metadata and a factsheet mentioning the right name), there is no looking outside.
- If the functionality is not there, there will be a discussion with the ERP vendor or implementer to build it on top of their ERP system.
I have seen implementations where the company has developed complete custom user interfaces in order to get user acceptance (the users would not accept the standard graphical interface). At that time, no one raised the flag about future maintenance and evolution of these custom environments. The mood was: we kept it simple – one single system.
I believe this closes the door for real PLM, as storing data in a system does not mean you will use it in an efficient and optimized manner. How will you anticipate on changes in business if it is just doing more with the same system?
And mid-market companies ?
The top-down approach described before is the fear of many mid-market companies, as they remember how painful their first ERP implementation was. And now with PLM it is even more unclear. PLM aims to involve the engineering department, which so far has not worked in a very procedural manner. Informal and ad-hoc communication combined with personal skills within this department was often the key for success.
And now an unfriendly system is brought in, with low or little usability, pushing these creative people to enter data without seeing any benefits. The organization downstream benefits but this will be only noticed later in time. And for the engineering department it will take more effort to change their work methodology focused on innovation. However, in general in the mid-market, the target of a PLM project is to have a Return on Investment (ROI) in a very short timeframe ( 1-2 years). Investing in usability should be even more important for this type of companies as there is less top-down pressure to accept this new PLM system.
And flexibility ?
In the past years we have seen that business is changing – there is a shift in global collaboration and manufacturing and from the recent history we can learn that those big enterprise projects from the past became a threat. Instead of being able to implement new concepts or new technology, the implementation became more and more vendor monolithic as other capabilities and applications do not fit anymore. This is against the concept of openness and being flexible for the future. I believe if PLM becomes as rigid as ERP, it blocks companies to innovate – the challenge for big companies is to find the balance between stability and flexibility (This was the title from Sony Ericsson’s presentation at the PLM forum in Sweden this year)
And again for mid-market companies who do not have the budget or resources to invest in similar projects. They have less a drive to optimize themselves in the same manner as big companies do as flexibility is often their trade mark (and capability to innovate) . So PLM for the mid-market will not work in the classical way.
This is one of the reasons why a mid-market PLM standard has not yet been found (yet ?). From the other hand many mid-market companies are dealing with PLM practices although often it is more close to PDM and CAD data management. And mid-market companies do not change their organization easily – there is more a departmental approach avoiding therefore a change in business.
To summarize the biggest challenges in current PLM described in this post:
- PLM is considered complex to implement
- PLM is a huge IT-project
- PLM requires change and structuring – but what about flexibility
- Where is the PLM value and ROI – user acceptance
- PLM for the mid-market – does it exist ?
Conclusion: I have been writing about the PLM challenges in the past, see the links below if you are interested in more details on a specific topic.
In 2008,I thought that Out-of-the-Box PLM systems and standard functionalities could bring a solution for the mid-market, perhaps future solutions based on the cloud. However I learned that if you want to do real PLM in a modern manner, you need to change the way you do your business – and this I will explain in my upcoming post.
- PLM and IT – love/hate relation ?
- Implementing PLM is a change not a tool
- Which PLM to choose
- PLM for the mid-market mission impossible ?
- 5 reasons not to implement plm – post 5 with links to post 1 to 4
Recently I have been reading various interesting articles, it started with Why Amazon can’t Make a Kindle in the USA from Steve Denning and from here I followed several interesting links.
Most of the articles were business driven and not with a focus on technology. However what caught my attention was the similarity of issues that were raised in these articles as-if it was about PLM.
At the end it is a plea/cry for change to be more competitive in the future. With the current economical stand still, I believe there is a need and an opportunity for this change also in PLM. I am not pointing to regime changes all around the world, but somehow they are all connected to this new wave of globalization and openness to information.
And as my domain is PLM, I took PLM 2.0 as the vehicle to describe the change currently in the PLM world. Although PLM 2.0 is a term invented by Dassault Systems, I will use it as the placeholder to describe the changes in PLM.
|This week||: What is PLM 2.0 ?|
|Next||: Challenges in current PLM|
|Next||: Change in business|
|Final post||: Why PLM 2.0 – conclusions|
I hope you will stay with me when going through these four steps and look forward to your immediate feedback.
What is PLM 2.0 ?
In 2006 Dassault Systems announced PLM 2.0 as the new generation of PLM implemented on their V6 platform. If you go to the 3DS website you see the following definition of PLM 2.0
Look for the header PLM 2.0: PLM Online for All
In the DS definition you will find several keywords that will help us further to understand the PLM 2.0 capabilities:
a typical Dassault Systems viewpoint, as they are coming from the world or 3D CAD and virtualization and the company’s vision is around lifelike – and life is mostly in 3D.
3D as interface towards all product related information is a paradigm shift for companies that were used to display only metadata on boring tabular screens where you navigate on numbers and text. The other major CAD-related PLM vendors of course could follow this paradigm too, as 3D visualization of information is known to them. However when coming from an ERP-based PLM system you will see 3D is something far out of reach for these vendors (at this moment).
This is what I believe is a crucial keyword for all PLM future implementations it builds upon the Business Information concepts that became in fashion 8 years ago. Online means direct access to the actual data. No information conversion, no need for import or export, but sharing and filtering. What you are allowed to see is actual data and an actual status. Imagine what kind of impact working on-line would have on your organization. Evaluation of trends, Key Performance Indicators directly available – still of course the interpretation to be done by experts.
Intellectual Property – a topic that should be on every company’s agenda. The reason a company currently exists and will exist in the future is based on how they manage their unique knowledge. This knowledge can be based on how certain processes are done, which components are chosen, which quality steps are critical and more. Working in a global collaboration environment challenges the company to keep their IP hidden for others, for sure when you talk about online data. Losing your IP means for a company to be vulnerable for the future – read in the referenced blog post from Steve Jennings about DELL.
This is currently the platform for change as technologies are now enabling people and companies to implement applications in a different manner. Not only on premises, but it could be online, Software As A Service, Cloud based solutions and through standardized programming interfaces, companies could implement end-to-end business process without a huge, monolithic impact. Also Web 2.0 provides the platform for communities.
The concept of communities opens new perspectives for collaboration. In general people in a community, have a common interest or task, and they share thoughts, deliverables back to the community across all company borders. This is the power of the community and the collective intelligence built inside such a community. Without company borders it should give the people a better perspective on their market on their business due to the global participation
The vision is there – now ….
All the above keywords are capabilities for the future and in the world of PLM you see that every PLM vendor / implementer is struggling with them. How to implement them consistently across their offering is the major challenge for the upcoming years, assuming PLM 2.0 is considered as the next step.
If you look at the PLM vendors beside Dassault Systems, you see that Siemens and PTC are closest to following the PLM 2.0 approach, without mentioning the term PLM 2.0. Other vendors even refuse to talk about PLM, but they share already similar components, for example Autodesk.
Interesting to see that the ERP-based PLM vendors do not follow this trend in their communication, they are still working on consolidating and completing their ‘classical’ PLM components
But the classical PLM vendors struggle with the change in paradigm too.
- What to do with current, huge and structured implementations ?
- Is PLM 2.0 having the same demands or can it be different ?
Here you see opportunities for new comers in this market as you can implement online collaboration, intellectual property creation/handling and communities in different manners with different types of implementation demands.
So far my introduction in PLM 2.0. Browsing on the web, I did not find too much other viewpoints on this specific terminology, so I am curious about your thoughts or and complementary comments on this topic.
In my next post I will zoom in into the challenges of PLM and relate them to the PLM 2.0 vision
My take on PLM (classical) and PLM 2.0
Referenced in this context – not directly mentioned:
- IBM visionary presentation from 2006 – Michael Neukirchen
- The future of PLM – Martin Ohly (global PLM blog)
- PLM 2.0 technology or facelift – Oleg Shilovitsky
- Social Media and PLM explained for Dummies – Jos Voskuil
- Going Social With Product Development – Jim Brown
I am not sure if it depending on the holiday season but apparently from my side at this moment things have gone quiet. Customers are either on holiday or delaying their PLM processes due to holidays or economical downturn. For that reason some unstructured thoughts
How PLM is Nokia ?
Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the problems found with the introduction of the new N97 phone from Nokia – see How PLM is NOKIA. As a victim of their NPI process I am still trying to understand their business reasons to be quiet in their responses. From the NOKIA forum, at this moment already 14 pages of discussion, there is no response from NOKIA, see GPS is cutting out on my N97. It is clear that NOKIA is following the discussion as the moderator has removed some posts, but no positive response from NOKIA’s side. Personally I believe a missed opportunity.
Interesting to see that NOKIA avoids to communicate around this problem. I can imagine keeping the problem silent at least does not alert people not using the GPS, from the other side, in times of crisis customer loyalty is probably something that assists a company in hard times.
PLM lesson learned: the costs of fixing problems once your product is in the field is dramatically higher as compared to the cost made during engineering. Did they do virtual testing ? Did they have a prototype phase ? Or was the product dumped into the market to compete with the iPhone ?
An interesting case to follow – anyone from NOKIA to comment ?
PLM Market Forecast Revised Downward.
V or a W-shape?
Another surprise was the report coming out from CIMdata where they mention that the initial growth expectation for PLM needs to be adjusted – see PLM Market Forecast Revised Downward.
In March, the research house had predicted 3.8% year-over-year growth in 2009 and 6.3% compound annual growth over the next five years — which would have pushed the market to $36 billion in revenue in 2013. Stating in a mid-year report released this week that “the global economic situation has been even more severe than anticipated,” the PLM consulting and research firm said it circled back to include data from the first half of 2009 in its figuring.
CIMdata revised its forecast for the PLM software market in 2009 and beyond, saying it now expects a decline of 2.1% in 2009 from 2008 revenue levels and a 3.5% compound annual growth rate from 2009 to 2013, to just under $31 billion in 2013. The company estimated the 2009 market at $25 billion.
The article contains some more interesting details, as it is also mentions virtual manufacturing, which I believe is one of the key benefits of PLM. I see it as one of the competitive advantages many companies should pursue to cut costs even though it requires an investment and change of work ( real PLM implementation)
This brought me to the good (or relative good) news. According to the first optimistic signs we have had our worst point of the recession and things can only go better – this are the V-shape believers. After the downturn we will continue as before.
The more pessimistic analysts say we are in a W-shaped recession. Although things are getting better, we will fall back again and recover later, perhaps in 2010.
Both might be right, but what I see is that either end of 2009 or end of 2010 the estimates are that PLM is back in focus. Will this be business as usual or did companies take the opportunity to modernize themselves towards PLM ? The CIMdata reports suggest the opposite, in my post Economical Crisis and PLM – YES WE CAN I tried to explain that investing now in PLM brings an advantage for the future. Companies that now do not look or investigate in PLM might come in a more difficult situation when the economical growth starts again. As the focus will be than on the old business, the chance for management attention and focus on PLM might become too low. Companies that currently invest in PLM take obviously more risk at this time, but will already reap the benefits faster
PLM, PLM 2.0 or a new PLM ?
Another interesting and ongoing discussion is the discussion where PLM is heading. Where in mid-market companies the discussion often is around the need for PLM beyond CAD data management and ERP, others are already visionary talking about the new PLM, which is based on people, social networking and communities. Look at Vuuch and discussions on PLMTwine and Tech-Clarity. Main question here how will people change, will it be the new workforce that naturally replaces the old workforce and while replacing introduces new ways of PLM or will it be a concept driven from the big enterprises as a new wave of PLM ? I believe this will become more clear when the economy picks up again and companies might have the bandwidth again for some experiments in this area.
Meanwhile I stay on my island
Last week was a week of transition. As I wrote in my previous post, I finalized a traditional PLM 1.0 project ( I will come back on this term ‘traditional’ PLM 1.0) and now probably because of the sunny days and some interesting articles I read (each word goes to a different article), I am reflecting what it means to think about the new trends: WEB 2.0 or even PLM 2.0
In this post I will try to explain the developments I have seen so far in the mid-market and from there project what might happen.
In the 80’s there was no PDM or PLM in the mid-market. This was the time most companies were moving away from the drawing board towards CAD. Most of the CAD was 2D and at that time in the mid-market AutoCAD was the dominant CAD software.
At that time I was working for the biggest AutoCAD distributor in the Netherlands (picture on the left). This was the golden age for hardware and software resellers – margins were high and there was little or none IT-knowledge inside mid-market companies. In order to keep the high margin we provided a free helpdesk for our customers to differentiate from others. It was an interesting time. Prospects came to our demo room to plot a drawing of A0 format and to discuss the quality of the lines and the hatching as compared to handmade drawings. There was always the discussion if CAD was more productive and must of us agreed that benefits only came when rework or changes were needed. In parallel we offered a training course for the heads of a design department how they learned to understand if their designers were productive. They were used to observe the behavior of the draftsman and the minor bar on the drawing board and from there they understood if someone was productive. We were talking about the new digital generation that would replace the people at the drawing board.
Are there still drawing boards ? Is there still free support as the margins are high ? This was 20 years ago.
Then slowly 3D CAD was introduced for the mid-market, initially only on Unix boxes, but with the introduction of Microsoft Windows it became achievable – SolidWorks for sure was leading in this area. Hardware became already more a commodity so the customer relation changed from free support to paid support, which required quality and knowledge. At that time in my company, we also saw the first demands for what customers called an “engineering database”. In the 2D world it was all about drawing management, now with 3D the focus was on managing the whole product. Initially called EDM (Engineering Data Management), later evolving in Product Data Management. The term PDM was not known at that time and I remember one of our customers visiting us with a sample of 13 reports – drawing list, spare part list, manufacturing BOM, etc. He told us: “I need a system that can generate these reports for me at anytime”. The solution: we implemented a PDM system for this customer. At the end of the nineties 3D was introduced in the mid-market combined with PDM. We were talking about the new generation of people that thinks in 3D which would replace the people who still worked in 2D
Are we still working with 2D ? Do we still look for support on hard- and software ? This was 10 years ago.
Then came the era of connectivity, initially through the first internet wave, leading to terms as cPDM and ultimately PLM. Instead of focusing on productivity in a single department, the intention was to focus on collaboration between departments, development teams and to address the whole product lifecycle. Specially Dassault Systems extended this concept by focusing on the process and virtualization: test and build your product virtually before you spend any money on prototypes. Autodesk does the same in different words, they call it Digital Prototyping and they try to avoid talking about the processes as here we touch the most sensitive point in mid-market companies: touching or changing processes – ‘classical PLM 1.0. And this is also what I read between the lines of Jim Brown’s post Is innovation or product pipeline killing profitability ? As long as we do not change our product development process but focus still on doing the same with better tools, the real innovation will not come. We are now talking about the global collaboration generation that has to learn to work together and replaces the people who are not changing their processes.
Are we still solving our departmental problems only ? Can we survive keep on doing the same ? This is now !
And meanwhile mid-market companies are learning to understand and digest the above, we already see the new wave coming. WEB 2.0 – social networking – social collaboration – PLM 2.0 – communities and more. Instead of companies working on their own data, the future is to work in communities, live data, cross-company with employees, who are focused as a team to bring a result, we do not send so much emails anymore, we chat, we twitter, we …….. and more. In addition as we will see the trend that teams have members from all around the world, the question comes up: What is the standard communication language ? German (past) , English (present), Chinese (future) ? Here I am a big fan and believer of the Dassault vision that 3D becomes the global language for communication as the people participating do not come from the same educational background anymore – so it easier to see what you mean. Meanwhile the futurists are all the time talking about the aging workforce (a lot of people plan to retire), but if you read back, you will notice every ten years we are talking about an aging workforce. Every time there was a new generation picking up the new capabilities and challenging the next generation.
Are we in 2020 a global, 3D twittering world ? What is each individual’s added value ? What are companies doing to anticipate to the above trends ? It looks like it is going to happen and the current economical downturn allows us to anticipate even earlier till the next pit stop.
A thought I take with me on the summer holidays.
(Yes, in Europe we still have holidays that are so long you have time to think about work –
you can find me on the island below in August)