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Two weeks ago I got this message from WordPress, reminding me that I started blogging about PLM on May 22nd in 2008. During some of my spare time during weekends, I began to read my old posts again and started to fix links that have been disappearing.
Initially when I started blogging, I wanted to educate mid-market companies about PLM. A sentence with a lot of ambiguities. How do you define the mid-market and how do you define PLM are already a good start for a boring discussion. And as I do not want to go into a discussion, here are my “definitions”
Warning: This is a long post, full of generalizations and a conclusion.
PLM and Mid-market
The mid-market companies can be characterized as having a low-level of staff for IT and strategic thinking. Mid-market companies are do-ers and most of the time they are good in their domain based on their IP and flexibility to deliver this to their customer base. I did not meet mid-market companies with a 5-year and beyond business vision. Mid-market companies buy systems. They bought an ERP system 25-30 years ago (the biggest trauma at that time). They renewed their ERP system for the Y2K problem/fear and they switched from drawing board towards a 2D CAD system. Later they bought a 3D CAD system, introducing the need for a PDM system to manage all data.
PLM is for me a vision, a business approach supported by an IT-infrastructure that allows companies to share and discover and connect product related information through the whole lifecycle. PLM enables companies to react earlier and better in the go-to-market process. Better by involving customer inputs and experience from the start in the concept and design phases. Earlier thanks to sharing and involving other disciplines/suppliers before crucial decisions are made, reducing the amount of iterations and the higher costs of late changes.
Seven years ago I believed that a packaged solution, combined with a pre-configured environment and standard processes would be the answer for mid-market companies. The same thought currently PLM vendors have with a cloud-based solution. Take it, us it as it is and enjoy.
Here I have changed my opinion in the past seven years. Mid-market companies consider PLM as a more complex extension of PDM and still consider ERP (and what comes with that system) as the primary system in the enterprise. PLM in mid-market companies is often seen as an engineering tool.
LESSON 1 for me:
The benefits of PLM are not well-understood by the mid-market
To read more:
Globalization and Education
In the past seven years, globalization became an important factor for all type of companies. Companies started offshoring labor intensive work to low-labor-cost countries introducing the need for sharing product data outside their local and controlled premises. Also, acquisitions by larger enterprises and by some of the dominant mid-market companies, these acquisitions introduced a new area of rethinking. Acquisitions introduced discussions about: what are real best practices for our organization? How can we remain flexible, meanwhile adapt and converge our business processes to be future ready?
Here I saw two major trends in the mid-market:
Lack of (PLM) Education
To understand and implement the value of PLM, you need to have skills and understanding of more than just a vendor-specific PLM system. You need to understand the basics of change processes (Engineering Change Request, Engineering Change Order, Manufacturing Change Order and more). And you need to understand the characteristics of a CAD document structure, a (multidisciplinary) EBOM, the MBOM (generic and/or plant specific) and the related Bill of Processes. This education does not exist in many countries and people are (mis-)guided by their PLM/ERP vendor, explaining why their system is the only system that can do the job.
Interesting enough the most read posts on my blog are about the MBOM, the ETO, BTO and CTO processes. This illustrates there is a need for a proper, vendor-independent and global accepted terminology for PLM
Some educational posts:
Bill of Materials for Dummies – ETO ranked #1
ECR/ECO for Dummies ranked #2
BOM for Dummies – CTO ranked #4
BOM for Dummies: BOM and CAD ranked #7
The dominance of ERP
As ERP systems were introduced long before PLM (and PDM), these systems are often considered by the management of a mid-market company as the core. All the other tools should be (preferably) seen as an extension of ERP and if possible, let´s implement ERP vendor´s functionality to support PLM – the Swiss knife approach – one tool for everything. This approach is understandable as at the board level there are no PLM discussions. Companies want to keep their “Let´s do it”-spirit and not reshuffle or reorganize their company, according to modern insights of sharing. Strangely enough, you see in many businesses the initiative to standardize on a single ERP system first, instead of standardizing on a single PLM approach first. PLM can bring the global benefits of product portfolio management and IP-sharing, where ERP is much more about local execution.
PLM is not understood at the board level, still considered as a tool
Some post related to PLM and ERP
Where is the MBOM ? ranked #3
The human factor
A lot of the reasons why PLM has the challenge to become successful have to do with its broad scope. PLM has an unclear definition and most important, PLM forces people to share data and work outside their comfort zones. Nobody likes to share by default. Sharing makes day-to-day life more complicated, sharing might create visibility on what you actually contribute or fix. In many of my posts, I described these issues from various viewpoints: the human brain, the innovators dilemma, the way the older generation (my generation) is raised and used to work. Combined with the fact that many initial PLM/PDM implementations have created so many legacies, the need to change has become a risk. In the discussion and selection of PLM I have seen many times that in the end a company decides to keep the old status quo (with new tools) instead of really having the guts to move toward the future. Often this was a result of investors not understanding (and willing to see) the long term benefits of PLM.
PLM requires a long-term vision and understanding, which most of the time does not fit current executive understanding (lack of education/time to educate) and priority (shareholders)
Many recent posts are about the human factor:
The digital transformation
The final and most significant upcoming change is the fact that we are entering a complete new era: From linear and predictable towards fast and iterative, meaning that classical ways we push products to the market will become obsolete. The traditional approach was based on lessons learned from mechanical products after the second world-war. Now through globalization and the importance of embedded software in our products, companies need to deliver and adapt products faster than the classical delivery process as their customers have higher expectations and a much larger range to choose from. The result from this global competitiveness is that companies will change from delivering products towards a more-and-more customer related business model (continuous upgrades/services). This requires companies to revisit their business and organization, which will be extremely difficult. Business wise and human change require new IT concepts – platform? / cloud services? / Big data?
Older enterprises, mid-market and large enterprises will be extremely challenged to make this change in the upcoming 10 years. It will be a matter of survival and I believe the Innovator´s Dilemma applies here the most.
The digital transformation is apparent as a trend for young companies and strategic consultants. This message is not yet understood at the board level of many businesses.
Some recent post related to this fast upcoming trend:
ROI (Return On Investment)
I also wrote about ROI – a difficult topic to address as in most discussions related to ROI, companies are talking about the costs of the implementation, not about the tremendous larger impact a new business approach or model can have, once enabled through PLM. Most PLM ROI discussions are related to efficiency and quality gains, which are significant and relevant. However these benefits are relative small and not comparable with the ability to change your business (model) to become more customer centric and stay in business.
Some of the ROI posts:
A (too) long post this time however perhaps a good post to mark 7 years of blogging and use it as a reference for the topics I briefly touched here. PLM has many aspects. You can do the further reading through the links.
From the statistics it is clear that the education part scores the best – see rankings. For future post, let me know by creating a comment what you are looking for in this blog: PLM Mid-Market, Education, PLM and ERP, Business Change, ROI, Digitalization, or …??
Also I have to remain customer centric – thanks for reading and providing your feedback
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
This time it is hard to write my blog post. First of all, because tomorrow there will be the soccer final between Holland and Spain and as a Virtual Dutchman I still dream of a real cup for the Dutch team.
Beside that I had several discussions around PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), CM (Configuration Management) and ALM (Asset Lifecycle Management), where all insiders agreed that it is hard to explain and sell the value and best practices, because it is boring, because it is not sexy, etc, etc.
So why am I still doing this job…..
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Dassault Systemes introduced in 2006 3DLive as the 3D collaboration layer for all users with the capability to provide in a 3D manner (see what you mean) on-line role specific information, coming from different information sources. Recently Siemens introduced their HD PLM, which as far as I understood, brings decision making capabilities (and fun) to the user.
Both user interfaces are focusing on providing information in a user-friendly and natural way – this is sexy to demonstrate, but a question never asked: “Where does the information come from ? “
And this is the boring but required part of PLM. Without data stored or connected to the PLM system, there is no way these sexy dashboards can provide the right information. The challenge for PLM systems will be to extract this information from various applications and from users to have the discipline to enter the needed data.
Those software vendors, who find an invisible way to capture the required information hold the key to success. Will it be through a more social collaboration with a lot of fun, I am afraid not. The main issue is that the people who need to enter the data are not rewarded for doing it. It is downstream the organization, in the product lifecycle, that other people benefit from the complete information. And I even suspect in some organizations that there are people who do not want share data to assure being required in the organization – see also Some users do not like the single version of the truth.
So who can reward these users and make them feel important. I believe this is a management job and no sexy (3D) environment will help here
Configuration Management (CM)
Although it is considered a part of PLM, I added configuration management to my post as a separate bullet. Two weeks ago, I attended the second day of the CMII Europe conference in Amsterdam. What I learned from this event was that the members of the CMII community are a group of enthusiastic people with somehow the same vision as PLM missionaries.
Quoting the organization: “CMII is about changing faster and documenting better. It is about accommodating change and keeping requirements clear, concise and valid.”
And it was interesting to listen to speeches of the members. Like with PLM, everyone is convinced configuration management brings a lot of value to a company, they are also fighting for acknowledgement. Not sexy is what I learned here and also here those people who are responsible for data accuracy are not necessary the ones that benefit (the most).
Like PLM, but even more in Configuration Management, the cultural change should not be neglected. Companies are used to have a certain level of “configuration management”, often based on manual processes, not always as efficient, clear and understood and satisfactory for the management, till something happens due to incorrect information.
Of course the impact of an error differentiates per industry, a problem occurring due to wrong information for an airplane is something different compared to a problem with a sound system.
So the investment in configuration management pays of for complex products with critical behaviors and in countries where labor costs are high. It was interesting to learn that a CM maturity assessment showed that most companies score below average when it comes to management support and that they score above average when talking about the tools they have in place.
This demonstrates for me that also for configuration management, companies believe tools will implement the change without a continuous management push. I remember that in several PLM selection processes, prospects were asking for all kind of complex configuration management capabilities, like complex filtering of a product structure. Perhaps pushed by a competitor, as at the end it was never implemented :(
Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM)
In some previous posts, I wrote about the benefits a PLM system can bring, when used as the core system for all asset related information. For nuclear plants, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) recommends to use configuration management best practices and I have met an owner/operator of a nuclear plant who recognized that a PLM system brings the right infrastructure, instead of SAP for example, which has more focus on operational data.
Also I had a meeting with another owner/operator, who was used to manage their asset data in a classical manner – documents in an as-built environment and changes of documents in various projects environments.
When discussing the ALM best practices based on a PLM system, it was clear all the benefits it could bring, but also we realized that implementing these concepts would require a conceptual revolution. People would need to start thinking asset centric (with lifecycle behavior) instead of document centric with only revisions.
This kind of change requires a management vision, clear explanation of the benefits and a lot of attention for the user. Only then when these changes have been implemented, and data is available in a single repository, only then the fun and sexy environments become available for use.
PLM, CM and ALM are not sexy especially for the users who need to provide the data. But they provide the base for sexy applications where users have instant access to complete information to make the right decisions. To get there a cultural change is required. The management needs to realize that the company changes into becoming proactive (avoiding errors) instead of being reactive (trying to contain errors); investing upfront and never be able to know what the losses would be in case an error occurred.
Not sexy, however the benefits this approach can bring allow employees and companies to continue to do their work for a secure future
And now … time to close as the final is near
Two weeks ago I received through the PLM group on LinkedIn, the following question from Nathalie: “Do you know any specific examples of what some companies have done to get their users ready, excited or more committed to the new PLM system?”
When digging in my mind and planning to give a quick answer, I realized it was an interesting question with a contradiction embedded: users and excitement for a new PLM system.
This week I was attending the SmarTeam User Group meeting in the Netherlands, where an excellent presentation was given by Simon and Hessel from a Dutch company called Meyn (Poultry processing) about their PLM implementation. They shared their excitement !
PLM is not exiting for users
I think this is fact number one. When you go to tradeshows or PLM exhibitions, you see usually only 3D CAD demos, nobody tries to demonstrate PLM functions and features in detail. As a side step, I believe the best PLM system should be almost invisible for the user. Users want to work in their own environment with applications like CAD, Excel (BOM handling apps), Office, FEA tools, Simulation tools and more.
ERP has a more clear value proposal, if you want to define and schedule your manufacturing and manage the financial transactions, everyone has accepted that you need ERP. User acceptance is not relevant, users have to work with the provided interface as otherwise production or accounting will fail, there is no alternative.
In contrary, the clear value and definition of PLM are not clear to user. For that reason these users do not get excited when confronted with PLM. They have been surviving without implementing PLM, so they believe there is an alternative.
But we know there are PLM benefits?
My previous post – PLM in the mid-market a mission impossible? – lead to a discussion with Oleg and Frank coming with anew and interesting view point. Frank mentioned that in the German area, many mid-market companies do PLM without purchasing an enterprise PLM system from the known vendors.
The discussion focused on granularity, as all of us believed that a set-by-step approach towards PLM best practices, driven by people who understand the company very well, is the key to success. For this approach you need people inside the customer’s organization who can formulate the vision assisted by consultants working very dedicated in that industry. It requires a different type of consultant as those active in the big enterprise projects.
Instead of implementing PLM as a standard process, in this approach the customer drives and leads the activities where they see benefits in their overall business process. To achieve this, the company must have has a clear vision, where they want to be in the next 5 – 10 years.
Next implementations steps should fit in this strategy and prioritized based on different parameters and these steps are not always with a focus on PLM.
And here lies the key for successful PLM implementations.
The implementation might be based on an academic approach around a core PLM data model and best practices. Mid-market offerings are around an OOTB (Out-Of-The-Box) quick implementation – the PLM system/implementer leads.
Something the management of likes to hear; quick and with little customization, which would translate in lower costs of implementation and disruption of the organization. But then, the end-users start to complain. There is too much change their standard way of working and they do not see the advantages – keying in more data in a system does not help them.
The introduction of PLM brings more complexity and as the new system has to prove itself, there is not big enthusiasm from the average user. The management can push, like in the ERP situation, but in general also the management is anxious to learn if this OOTB-approach brings the benefits and when it fails they ask the vendor where the estimated ROI can be found.
Concluding you will be lucky if users get excited form the OOTB approach.
In the second and granular approach, the company defines their strategy and vision, not necessary a 100 % PLM vision. This strategy need to be clear and shared with the employees in the company, especially for those who are affected by changes.
Next together with implementation partners, who bring in the know-how and possible software tools, a part of the company’s process is addressed and improved. It can be in any area, changing the CAD engine, automate BOM handling, connect sales to engineering or connect after sales/service to engineering.
Many of these areas of interest have different solutions, some are extensions of the CAD environment, some of them are extensions of the ERP environment and some of them are extensions of the IT-platform used in the company.
This approach is not sold by the PLM vendors, as they want to introduce their system as the IT-platform, wrap around the CAD and even capture the definition of the MBOM and initiation of the Item master.
A step-by-step approach based on different granular components, every time in the direction of the company’s strategy, plus all the time feed-back to the end-users on the positive impact of the change, is for me the key to success. In my previous post I was looking for a global provider for these required components.
With the step by step approach with granular solutions, we get users involved and excited.
And this brings me the to the presentation from Meyn
The first time I got involved with Meyn was in October 2004. At that time they had chosen to move from their BaaN-2D CAD infrastructure to a new environment with BaaN – 3D CAD (CATIA). Simon presented their target strategy and vision: moving away from being an Engineering To Order company to become primarily a Configure To Order company.
ENOVIA SmarTeam was chosen to manage the 3D CAD and to connect the information to BaaN. Initially Meyn started in the classical PLM approach, but already after a few months, the understanding was there, they need have step-by-step approach, focused on results for the new CATIA users, without communicating around a complete PLM focused project.
So they followed a stepped approach, they called them waves.
Moving from Engineering to Order to Configure to Order is not software implementation. It requires rationalization of your products; convert them into modular, configurable parts. For this you need to be an engineering expert, not a software expert.
But when it comes to implementation of this concept in the software, you need both experts. And through this collaboration, a methodology for skeleton design was established which was driven by Meyn. And the reason the users were excited was, that they were doing real engineering, the benefits were significant visible.
Customer project related engineering time (typical ETO), which was in the beginning their core activity, became around 30 % of the time. More time could be spent on developing new machines in a modular way. With almost the same amount of engineers the turn-over of the company had more than doubled. A win-win environment which makes also the end-users excited.
Still the backend with ERP at Meyn remained almost the same similar to the time they were working in the 2D environment. And the most interesting conclusion at the end of the presentation was, they are still using the same slide with the vision and they can explain why each step was taken and justify it by measurable benefits.
And this brings me to the answer of the question
“Do you know any specific examples of what some companies have done to get their users ready, excited or more committed to the new PLM system”?
- The management needs to have a clear vision where they want to be as a company in the future. This is not an IT-vision, but a business vision which explain why changes are needed. This vision should be clear to the employees. Communicate!
- Where possible provide metrics!
- Do not talk about a PLM system; it can be also in other tools. Talk about improvement steps in the business processes contributing to the vision. The PLM system is the information backbone, not the front-end. Management and implementers should talk business functionality not IT functions and features. Do not talk in applications!
- Build step by step user scenarios with focus on methodology and user understanding. Implementations with a function-feature focus are hard to accept by the users. Talk business!
- The management should present their vision again and again, supported by metrics what has been accomplished and what has been learned for the future – repeat!
There are thousands of mid-market companies that have a vision to improve their business. The PLM system should never be the topic of discussion with the end users; it is the change in working methods that is important, supported by various systems -CAD/ERP/CRM – and almost invisible …….. PLM
The company Meyn is an example of this approach. Simon and Hessel are working for Meyn as engineers improving their company’s business. Unfortunate it is not their business to explain all around the world, how PLM supports business change in a mid-market company. I was glad to attend their session last week.
Although I am still active most of my time in ‘classical’ PLM, some of the projects I am involved with also deal with Asset Lifecycle Management. In general PLM focuses on a product development process, starting from a conceptual phase, going through planning, development and production. The PLM system serves as a collaboration and information backbone for all product IP (Intellectual Property). One of the main capabilities a PLM system provides is a ‘single version of the truth’.
And it is this capability, which makes a PLM system an excellent choice for Asset Lifecycle Management
Who practices Asset Lifecycle Management ?
Asset Lifecycle Management can be found at any location, where a company is maintaining a process – we call these companies Owners/ Operators. Best known industry for Asset Lifecycle Management is the Process & Power industry, where a company produces oil, energy or chemicals. However the same concept is also valid for water companies (water distribution process), food processing and infrastructure companies (railways, airports, roads)
All these companies have in common that they support a certain process and the challenge is, while being in operation, to optimize the process. During operation, maintenance and improvement activities should be as little as disruptive as possible.
A maintenance stop is very costly for Owner/Operators. Imagine a plant not producing fuel for two weeks (millions of liters) or a nuclear reactor not producing electricity for a month (millions of kilowatts) – no income. And no maintenance will lead to unexpected problems and in the worse case, disasters. So it is also about balancing these activities.
Let’s look at a definition of Asset Lifecycle Management
Asset Lifecycle Management is a balanced and active management of assets over the lifecycle, coupled with business objectives.
Simply said it translates into an approach, where based on business objectives (process stability, safety, margin) a company tries to optimize the usage of their assets (a reactor, a pump, a rail track, a road) through their individual lifecycles. This means perform preventive maintenance; renovate a part of the process and perform more parallel activities with a focus on improving the lifecycle of the process
So why not use a MRO system?
An MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) system can be compared with an ERP system for manufacturing companies. The MRO system manages and schedules activities and resources on the plant, keeping track of maintenance activities done on inventory. But can it serve as the system providing the single version of the truth for all plant information? No!
So why not use an ERP system?
An ERP system is mostly used by owner/operators to control all financial transactions (contracts, purchasing, suppliers, projects/resources accounting). Some ERP vendors provide MRO functionality in a single system; still can this system provide the single version of truth for all plant information? Again I am sure it is not the case.
So why not use a document management system?
As most of the process information is stored in various types of documents, is seems to be appropriate to store all information in a document management system. And actually this is what owner/operators try to do, however they maintain inside their company different document management systems (paper archives, office documents in a specific system, engineering documents in another system, etc, etc). Each of the systems can provide a single version of the truth for specific content, however there is a consolidated single entry point for all asset data. Often the documents also do not reflect the status of an asset. Is the asset running in, is it active, is it demolished?
The tag number does not show it, and changing the status of an asset forces people to go through the various document systems to change the status there. An inefficient and costly procedure, not reliable and often not done.
So why not an integrated plant engineering system?
Engineering plant software is designed to support the design collaboration and is mostly used by EPC contractors. These engineering companies are hired by the owner/operator to design and construct the plant or make major modifications of the plant. EPC contractors need to work as efficient as possible (to get the job), which means for them work as intelligent as possible in an integrated manner with tag numbers, P&IDs, 3D Equipment, Piping, ISOs. This intelligence leads to an application specific format and infrastructure.
During the hand-over of the plant or modification, this intelligence disappears as the owner/operator does not use the engineering plant software. They do not want to be dependent on a single software provider or version of the data. As data has to live for many years, sometimes 30 years or more, application specific data is hard to maintain. So as part of the hand-over data will be provided in neutral formats, worst case paper, but often in PDFs, TIFFs or other publishing format, losing all the intelligence.
There is an intelligent, neutral format based on ISO 15926. This requires an investment from the EPC contractor and an investment from the owner/operator to manage all information in this format. For complex and long-lasting environments, like a nuclear plant, this approach surely pays off; however what you see is that on both sides (EPC and Owner/Operator) they try to minimize the costs on data handling/conversion. This leads in the long term to much more labor time internal at the owner/operator to manage and assure the data is accurate. But these costs somehow come later and are more hidden. And the question remains: can this system serve as the single version of truth for all plant information? No, plant engineering systems are too application specific
In addition, plant engineering software environments are not targeted to work integrated in an owner/operator environment, managing parallel projects and resources, quality processes and inventory statuses related to a certain asset and project.
So why not use a project management software system?
As in a plant many projects can run in parallel, it happens that they run on the same assets or locations in the plant. For engineers and maintenance it is important to have visibility on which projects have impact on each other. Project management software is not targeted to make data visible related to a collection of assets or locations. No, project management software can not be the system to serve as the single version of truth for all plant information.
So either we give up for looking a single version of the truth and pay the price for multiple software systems to maintain in the company and take the extra efforts for configuration management for granted, or we look at PLM ?
The PLM based solution
In the past 15 years I have done several projects with ENOVIA and projects where Asset Lifecycle Management was done with ENOVIA. For sure, other flexible PLM systems can do the same, as the solution lies in an adapted data model for ALM.
This picture shows what a PLM system can do:
It can provide all related information (documents, inventory, locations, and projects) to an asset with one click from within single system. In addition it can also give the actual status of the asset. Assets are often identified by tag numbers, and the lifecycle of an asset can be managed by default in a PLM system, combined with Asset Change processes.
Best Practices coming from the PLM world can be used here too. The major challenge for PLM vendors is to reduce the complexity for data handling, as ALM users will not be engineers experienced to complex CAD environments. They are information workers, who need with a short learning curve, direct access to the data they require (and they should be sure the data is reliable)
Note: the PLM system will need to interface with the MRO and ERP system. Like in the classical PLM concept, MRO and ERP are the transactional systems, controlling the day to day activities, where the PLM system provides the accurate plant information (IP) required for an activity.
Also the PLM system will manage the non-standard activities through projects, change processes and will rely on accurate information from ERP.
- Reduced down-time for the plant, due to better planning and accurate information when preparing a maintenance stop. Less surprises with unforeseen delays of production.
- More reliable and less effort to be complaint to safety, health, environment and governmental regulations as all information is available in a single, controlled and traceable environment
- Lower cost of ownership for ALM. Instead of maintaining various silos of information and provide access to certain users, a single system with a common interface is available for most of the users.
Conclusion: Owner/Operators should look into the benefits a PLM system can bring for them. Interesting the benefits are not based on the integration of product development, but on providing accurate information from different entry points for different roles
I am curious to learn who has seen a similar approach – feel free to comment
- explaining the complete PLM scenario from concept (initial BOM), through CAD, through EBOM and MBOM to a final shipped product. I will come back on this topic in future posts as it even goes beyond my old post: Where is the MBOM. To be more detailed in the future
- analyzing ROI and predicting ROI for various PLM implementations. And this is the topic I want to share 2 experiences with you, and I am curious for feedback or other viewpoints
Where is my ROI, Mister Voskuil ?
Some years ago I supervised a PLM implementation and I only was involved after the company had already implemented their 3D CAD software (SolidWorks) after years of 2D AutoCAD. The reason for my visit was that the technical manager was a good guy in monitoring the productivity of his engineering department.
And then he showed me some statistics. Working with AutoCAD 2D was defined as the baseline. Implementing SolidWorks brought initially a drop in drawing output (pay attention to the wording) but after 6 – 9 month the started to be more efficient with SolidWorks and at that time the output was rated at 120 % (or sometimes even more due to more and enhanced product modeling)
Then came the SmarTeam implementation and again the output of the engineering department dropped and going down to 70 % and after one year effort of the SmarTeam implementing VAR, they were still not happy as output was below 100 % still.
Conclusion from their side: There is no ROI on implementing PLM
In the following discussion we discovered that working methods of the engineers had changed. Less freedom in adding data, incomplete information as the integration with SolidWorks enforced a more strict methodology to the CAD users (who of course complained). The effect of the changed working procedures was however that downstream tasks should have been eliminated . In production preparation 4 people were in the past completing, checking the engineering BOM coming from the design department. They fixed the mistakes and then typed it all in another order into their ERP system for production.
It appeared that those 4 people had a much easier job – first of all they did not complain. Data was immediately on release of the design sent to the ERP system – no manual interaction – and there they could pick-up the EBOM and adapt it for production. There was less search work to do – as the designer already provided validated input plus there were no typos anymore. Amazingly these 4 people never complained to their management that they could do more, they kept on having their ‘busy’ days.
Morale 1: Measuring ROI in a single department (often an mid-market characteristic) does not give you a good understanding of PLM benefits. PLM, once implemented correct, affects the whole organization
We know there is ROI, but where is it ?
As you noticed, a less confronting customer, as we all feel being involved in a successful PLM implementation going in the right direction. Yes, perhaps a little to slow, but the advantage is that people start to see the benefits of a ‘single version of the truth’ – we haven’t reached the advanced scenarios yet as I mentioned in the top.
But now we tried to measure, as I also wrote in previous posts, if you had your organization under control before PLM, in that case you would be able to measure the impact – after 6 months / after 12 months / after 2 years ?
It is like climate change, statistics demonstrate there is a trend and I believe we have an impact on this planet. Still skeptics (luckily less and less) explain us that it is just a normal climate variation, and after 10 – 50 years we will have a new ice age. Not sure if these people are optimists or …….. it just does not fit in their lives
But PLM is somehow the same, we see it has impact, we measure and try to explain, specially in the mid-market companies, skeptics is a natural survival mechanism as you cannot risk to be too optimistic. (This is how startup’
So in our situation we started to fill in spreadsheets which brought huge benefits. Imagine searching goes much faster – let’s say instead of 1 hour per day we need only 10 minutes per day per employee. We have 120 people per day searching for data, does it mean we can do it with 20 people instead ? Or what would these people do in the remaining 50 minutes per hour ?
Right, they will find other work to do – less stress, more time to chat with colleagues, have a coffee and above all they won’t complain. People are flexible in filling their day and if the company is lucky some of the ambitious people might fill their day with innovation or other relevant improvements.
Morale 2: Even if there is indisputable ROI on a PLM implementation, the management should analyze what should be the impact on the organization. Invest more in creativity / engineering instead of quality assurance ? In the mid-market this might be perceived as a bad sign – as quality is key. But how much money would we make on a high quality product that no-body buys anymore.
Conclusion: With these two anecdotes I tried to share my ROI struggle which is still following PLM. I am looking forward for more anecdotes or inputs on the soft side of ROI. Be welcomed to join the discussion
And to stay in the mood – enjoy with Dilbert
Finally I have time to continue on my sequence: “How to come to measurable PLM benefits ?” I think it is a topic where everyone talks about, but little is known in concrete figures. One of the main challenges is also “What to measure ? “. As I added to Martin’s comment on my previous post, we can measure comparable activities, like how much time and people are involved in average for an engineering change. And when a company makes the statement: “We reduced the time for an engineering change in average from 23 days to 8 days” – what does it mean ?
Does is mean people have spent less time to understand and implement correctly the change ? Probably – so there might me xxx amount of money related to this saving in time. Of course, there might be also a saving in distribution costs, assuming in the traditional approach a paper-based distribution process was used – people spending time in distribution, printing, copying etc.
Everyone experienced with Excel and formulas can make these kind of calculations (and I did it too) and often I was surprised about the huge benefits showing up in the spreadsheet. So please continue filling spreadsheets as in general the benefits will be high
In parallel a second approach should be considered. Benchmarking against similar companies and Aberdeen has published some papers in this area, (see for example: The Best Kept Secret of Top SMB Product Developers -Finding the Shortest Path to PLM Value) . Maybe less specific per activity but they offer a good secondary view of the PLM benefits, in this case viewed from the business point of view.
Back to ROI measuring – and now in the planning phase
The planning phase, by my definition is the phase where we have a concept and we start to analyze which activities and which resources are required to develop the concept. In a Built To Order process, the planning phase might overlap the concept phase, as the inputs from the prospect require besides to provide a solution also the need to have it done within a certain budget and timeframe.
So the most important questions related to the planning phase are:
- How many projects we are doing are similar in approach?
Measure: time spent in finding similar solutions / percentage reuse /classify projects
Analyze: Can we improve by standardization
- How often do we have to do a major change /disruption in our planning ?
Measure: the amount of projects that have small compared to major changes (define a rule to differentiate)
Analyze: What is the reason for the major changes
- During execution of a project – do we know if we are on track ?
Measure: Select an arbitrary project and make a status
Analyze: Was this status correct looking back later ? ( a month – some months)
- How much time and effort do we spent to understand the status of a project ?
Measure: Select an arbitrary project and make a status
Analyze: How much time and people were involved to get the status
- How much time does it take to plan an engineering change ?
Measure: Once an ECO (Engineering Change Order) has been approved, what does it take to plan the change
(perhaps you already planned too as part of the ECR process- excellent) – resources and time
Analyze: Can we improve by doing things different
Again all the above points can be addressed by PLM, either through a sales and product configurator (a configurator btw already requires a certain level of standardization or modularization of products. I will write more on configurators and how to get there perhaps in the future. Meanwhile read this excellent white paper from the Valent Group: 7 Myths of Configurators).
Project and program management combined with template best practices, how to do execute an customer order or a new product introduction are also providing huge benefits. Every time you have the chance to do something similar, you have reduced the risk dramatically. So investing in standardization and templates is an investment in risk reduction and increased reliability
At then the measurable results will come from two sides: customer satisfaction and market share (hard to measure) and internal increased efficiency (easy to measure)which contributes to your margin or to your market share as you can follow a different price point.
The keywords for the planning phase are: standardization, reuse (in the broadest context) and activities that can be monitored with low effort . This allows companies to control their margin and their risks and their health status.
And planning is import – see video below (and I hope all are still alive)
On the contrary, this month January has been an extremely busy month with a lot of activities mainly in Europe. Except from all the discussions with customers, I also had lot of interaction with some of my peers in the field all around the topic of PLM.
Part of these discussions were around:
“If this PLM system exists, would it be implemented by mid-market companies?”
However first, as an interlude, I would like to show you two interesting links from the past month.
- Martin Ohly on his web site Global PLM trying to share his experiences and view on PLM. Certainly when you would like to get an impression of all the topics around global PLM, you should go there. You will find topics there for discussion and like Martin, I am trying to do it in a similar way through my blog, although I focus more on sharing the experiences with customers and leave the architectural details in the background.
- Oleg Shilovitsky has been bombarding us since a few months with thoughts around PLM his Daily PLM Think Tank. It is interesting to see how Oleg combines concepts, trends from other disciplines with PLM. As they are all air balloons, some of them explode, others get a lot of attention as somewhere around the globe other people had similar thoughts. A nice example of global brainstorming – still everyone keeps their own IP
Now back to the question: To PLM or not to PLM ?
This is the question I hear the most from the companies I have been visiting. They learn from the PLM vendors and analysts that they should do PLM. However every vendor has its own PLM definition, technology or solution. So who to choose ?
Here I tend to say, that the selection of the right PLM product is the last step of moving towards PLM. Yes, you can start with a PLM product and then learning on the job what is the best fit/ Not recommended. In a later post I will focus on what are the questions that a customer should consider when selecting a PLM system, the first question remains: To PLM or Not to PLM ?
Before selecting a PLM system, I would like to discuss and assist companies with their internal discussion in the company: To PLM or Not PLM ? In order to justify PLM, you need to have a justification for your company.
What will PLM bring us ?
The decision for Yes or No PLM will depend on ROI (Return On Investment) and long term strategy. Of course there is a connection between the long term strategy and the ROI. But how do you determine the ROI ? Often I hear the question: “What will be the ROI for my company ?” The only answers I can give without more details are commonalties, like: Reducing the time engineers use for searching with 50 % or more . Based on the costs of your engineers you can estimated the value for this time saving, etc, etc
However, immediately one of the customers said, we already have an efficient search. Yes a lot is stored in directories, but we feel we manage it well, so the benefits are perhaps only 5 % ?
And here started the discussion. In general the files in their directories were reliable, the problem only appeared when suddenly someone else needed quickly the data used for a design and unfortunate found something in the directory of a wrong project. The result was that the wrong spare parts were used, which led to a production stand-still at the customer which led to a claim. But this happened only once the manager said.
Here you see that an incident, which most employees of the company do not want to take into consideration (it was an incident), lead to losing a good relation with a customer (and probably no future customer anymore) and the costs of an incidental claim. It is not only counting efficiency.
This is where the long term strategy comes. How do you as a company make sure that you will have customers in the future ? And for this question, there are many parameters, like:
- Do we still have the right products ?
- What do customers expect from us in the future?
- What is the competition doing ?
- What are trends we must follow ?
- Where can we innovate (differentiate)?
- How efficient do we bring a product or order to delivery ?
- Can we be more efficient ?
- Can we do the process different and become more flexible ?
- Can we lower the risk by standardizing ?
Measuring is needed
These questions are not easy to answer unless you have a clear sight on what is happening in your core business and primary processes. And it is here where mid-market companies often differ from the big enterprises. Everyone is busy to do their job and tasks and there is no strategic department that looks from a distance to the company to analyze and describe it and plan the strategy. The management in the company has it as a secondary job often left apart due to the primary tasks.
The current economical down-turn makes it even more important how to survive and in a shorter time frame.
But although the economical down-turn creates a threat it also is an opportunity. Companies might have currently less work to do, so they have the chance to look to what there are usually doing as a first baseline.
In my upcoming posts, I want to focus on these type of questions for benchmarking – knowing that per industry they might be a little different. The reward at the end might be two-fold: you know as a company where you are and secondly now you can start really calculating the ROI of a PLM implementation. The last part can be done with an external consultant experienced in PLM as he/she can estimate benefits from other implementations. The ROI will justify and guarantee that your company is better tuned when all lights from the economy go to green.
Conclusion: Start thinking and measuring now you have the time. The result will create the base for a good justification for PLM when and where needed with a correct ROI. And it is not only about doing thing more efficient, this will not kill the competition, it is about doing things different
Success with your analysis – and feel free to ask your questions through the comments – you can indicate if you want to treat them private or public
In the past year I shared with you my thoughts around PLM. Most of the post were based on discussions with customers, implementers, resellers and peers around the world. I learned a lot and will keep on learning I assume, as PLM has many aspects:
– the products, there are many products with the label PLM
– the concept, how do we interpret PLM per industry
– the customers, what do they want to achieve, without buzz-word
– the world, people and economic trends drive us sometime to irrational decisions
In this post I will give an overview from the 2008 posts, categorized by topic. I am looking forward to further suggestions in the comments if you are interested in more depth in certain areas. In parallel I will continue to share my experiences and provide an overview of best-practices and terminology experienced in the PLM space.
PLM and ERP
PLM and ROI
Business Process Change
I would like to conclude with a quote from my favorite scientist, who taught us everything is relative, however:
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Looking forward to your feedback, wishes in 2009 !