As a consultant working with mid-market companies, I enjoyed reading this post from Al Dean and its related comments and posts. Although I must say Al’s statement:
PLM+ are looking to solve this by creating a rich application that engages the user, provides ease of implementation and ongoing maintenance (by allowing the user/admin, rather than costly consultant) and can be delivered over the web, in an on-demand manner (which saves hardware and infrastructure cost)
was a trigger to react, as I am a consultant.
The base of every PDM/PLM
First I believe the base of PLM and PDM is to agree inside your company that you share and centralize product data. This means not only files, but also Bill of Materials, Issues, etc, etc, ..
To share and centralize product data seems like an easy mission and this is what all PLM software as a base provides, and I assume PLM+ does the same, only they store the data in the cloud, like Arena.
Sharing data is not a natural process in all companies as there is always the culture to share the minimum and to keep the rest to prove your own value – the bigger the company the more this will happen. This is human nature and this differs case by case. To make people share data is an area where either the management has to push, or in very small companies, a power user. In larger companies, often an external consultant is doing this job, in the role of an ‘outsider’ who can moderate and explain the benefits for all, instead of the threats.
This is what consultants really do; they do not install or administer systems.
PLM solutions can vary in the way they make sharing of data available. Some solutions are very rigid in what they offer as data model, but most of the necessary entities and attributes are there. They are based on best practices and target the 80 %. Often this is good enough, if the customer has no alternative and has the power by themselves to enforce the system as their platform for sharing data.
More flexible PLM solutions have an advantage and in the same time this is their disadvantage. They can be extended beyond the 80 % scenario and both the implementer and the customer will be challenged to reach the 100 % satisfaction. However we all know from the 80-20 rule, this is where it gets complicated.
80 % of the project is done in 20 % of the time, or in other words: you spent 80 % of your time (and budget) on reaching the last 20 %
Once having reached a common platform for sharing all product related information, for me the real PLM is starting. This is where a company would implement processes, that streamline the product development or delivery process – it requires a cross departmental change.
And at this stage, it is often where a consultant comes in. It is very rare, that in mid-market companies, management reserves time and resources to come with a strategic plan to implement PLM – I wrote about this in an older post. PLM requires a change in the way the company currently works.
So I am curious to learn how PLM+ and other On-Demand PLM software companies will try to address this step, as change is needed and someone has to push for it.
In my last three consecutive posts, I wrote about who decides on PLM in mid-market companies (a generalization from 15 years experience). There I claim that the selection for a PLM system is subjective, very much based on personal relations with the mid-market company. Again how PLM+ will address this in their business model, as there is a need for someone to push.
Open Source PLM software has somehow similar challenges. You need the drive from inside the customer to agree on sharing product data and next to extend. This is where the traditional PDM and PLM vendors push their business in direct contacts. Of course Open Source PLM providers have their focus on after the initial installation of the platform to extend it with a consultative and service model.
Conclusion: As every PLM provider at the end needs revenue for a living, I am looking forward to see where On-Demand PLM will go and finds it place. What will be business model that makes people buy and create the change