observation   The past two weeks my main activities were mainly around the following two topics:

  • – how to implement PLM successfully ?
  • – how do you connect and position PLM and ERP ?

Meanwhile an interesting discussion developed on the manufacturing forum around intelligent part numbers. Check it out if you want to learn more on that topic. In my next post, I will continue in de sequence of How to connect PLM and ERP, as there are many other topics to discuss.

This post, I will continue with the 5 reasons for companies not to implement PLM. An interesting report related to this topic was written by the Aberdeen Group: The Best Kept Secret of Top SMB Product Developers – Finding the Shortest Path to PLM Value. One of the interesting points raised here was, the comparison of major PLM characteristics and how they were perceived by companies that had implemented PLM and the companies that were thinking of implementing PLM.

Three observations from this interesting report were:

  • 54 % of the companies that have not implemented PLM yet, consider costs as a major factor, where from the companies that have implemented only 32 % mentions costs as a major factor. This also supports the arguments I gave in my previous post, that a PLM implementation should not be considered on its costs.
  • 39 % of the companies that have implemented PLM consider the implementation process as an important factor, where only 11 % of companies that have not implemented PLM perceive this as an important factor.
  • 35 % of the companies that have implemented PLM realized that adapting their processes to support PLM is an important factor, where only 11 % of the companies that have not implemented PLM consider this important.The two last points I will use in my observations below, where I will discuss why a PLM implementation takes too long.

As a reminder the 5 objections why not to implement PLM  were:

  1. The costs to implement PLM are too high
  2. A PLM implementation takes too long (below)
  3. We already have an ERP system
  4. Isn’t PLM the same as managing CAD files
  5. We are so busy, there is not time to have a PLM implementation in our company


2. A PLM implementation takes too long

When you hear experiences about PLM implementations, you might conclude that indeed the perception that PLM implementations take too long might be right. However, I believe it depends what where your initial expectations when you talk about too long.

The first misconception is probably that you can install PLM like a (complex) product. Companies usually have their previous ERP implementation in mind as benchmark. This creates the expectation that once installing the PLM product, you need to configure the right parameters according to the major business processes, test the environment, train the people and start working. So the company together with the implementing partner starts to build a project plan and after 6-8 months the system should be up and running. And than the problems start …….

PLM is not a product, it is a vision where a company targets to capture, manage and use its Product Knowledge (IP) in such a way that is improves the overall business. Not only during the development phase, but also during the early concept phase, during production planning, production and even after sales / service.

This requires all companies to reconsider the way they work in order to adapt their processes to a PLM aligned overall business process. And changing processes involves people and the way they work. And I guess most of us understand that changes in an organization go slowly. I wrote several posts on this topic and you can find much more on the web.

PLM is not a product install, it is a vision implemented around a PLM system !

The mistake companies make is that they believe with one installation they can implement PLM in their company. Like they did with the ERP system or CRM system. However PLM requires a different way of working and this is underestimated by companies. That is why (numbers from the Aberdeen report):

39 % of the companies that have implemented PLM consider the implementation process as an important factor, where only 11 % of companies that have not implemented PLM perceive this as an important factor.
35 % of the companies that have implemented PLM realized that adapting their processes to support PLM is an important factor, where only 11 % of the companies that have not implemented PLM consider this important.
 

 

Companies that have implemented PLM realized that the implementation process was much more important to them then the costs (39 % against 32 %). The implementation process, the way and order in which PLM functionally is implemented, is something that might become more standardized in the future.

As PLM for the mid-market is an emerging market, PLM vendors will need to focus on this area. Not only product packaging but also in predefined implementation process templates to provide realistic expectations about the implementation process. A phased approach, for sure as described in my previous post, should be part of the discussion. In general you can say, a basic PLM implementation spans over 2 to 3 years in situations where companies start from scratch. However this does not mean there is all the time activity – sometimes there is just a phase of learning and understanding the current (new) situation after a step executed.

Related to the implementation process you have also the implementation of PLM Best Practices. These best practices also become more and more available for mid-market companies. ENOVIA SmarTeam provides with its express offerings different entry PLM best practices, to be extended in the future, as beside Design and Engineering, many other best practices exist, for example bidding, supplier collaboration, manufacturing planning and more.

PLM vendors will provide PLM Best Practices in the future, still the order of implementation and the adaptation of PLM best practices by a company are different for every company. That is what companies realized that have implemented PLM . Adapting the company’s business processes to support PLM best practice has become a more important topic then the cost (35 % against 32 %).  And adapting company business processes is merely an organizational change, which needs to go in the pace that a company can digest.

The fact that companies underestimate the process related issues compared to the overestimation of costs (11 % against 54 %) shows the misconception in the market around PLM. Combined with the perception that a PLM implementation has a fixed time limit these are the reasons why companies believe a PLM implementation takes too long.

Conclusion: As a PLM implementation is a change and improvement process for the company, it is not possible to assign a time limit. There is always time to improve – a judgement between investment and ROI but continuous.

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