If you think you have the need for PLM, as everyone around you has PLM and you are sure you need it also, how do you select a PLM system?

If you are not familiar with PLM, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) stands for a vision and a combination of best practices, industry dependent, that allow you as a company to be more innovative, faster too market, more customer centric and also with a higher quality and efficiency. The result: you are doing better as the competition – more margin, market share etc, etc

Next the implementation of this vision can be done by implementing pieces of the PLM vision on top of the existing systems already in your company. Extending the capabilities of your CAD system with some macros ; programming some capabilities around SharePoint to make information available and combined with Excel macros and an import in our ERP system, you believe you are doing PLM as you implemented parts of the PLM vision, mainly the efficiency part.

And then we get stuck, we would like to be more customer centric. Which macro to write for that? Or we want to connect our 3D designs to be used in a virtual prototype environment so we do not have to make the first real prototype to understand where to improve. Here the local reseller or IT-provider mentions it goes beyond his expertise (if he is fair).

For the full PLM vision, we see that the major PLM vendors have an integrated story, where all best practices and capabilities are connected and available on demand. Of course there is a discussion between themselves who has the best vision, the best integration between all these modules and who is the most efficient, but this is normal in a competitive world. You will find out the details during your selection process, but let’s agree you want all these benefits now or in the future, so the first conclusion is, you need to implement a PLM system in your company, and not small pieces of PLM capabilities in different systems and infrastructure.

And now comes the do not do this part, which I encountered in the past two months several times and from which I thought this approach was already considered by people, knowledgeable in this are as leading to failure.



The content below might lead to dissatisfaction in the near or longer future and the writer warns you NOT to use the methodology below

The company starts collecting requirements from all departments to assure they can implement the new vision. And as collecting requirements is a lot of work, they hire an external consulting company to do this work. The consultant(s) go and talk with all the different departments and at the end they collected a list of 100+ requirements, which after discussing them with the management are completed with another 50 requirements to assure the company is not going to select the wrong PLM system.


Then the company sends this book to all the known PLM vendors, telling them to respond within a timely matter (two – four ) weeks. And questions will be answered only through a very formal process via the consultancy company.

  This type of questions you will find (and they are real):

  • There should be a control for the renaming of CAD-parts and links
  • It should be possible to search from the top to the bottom in the structure with all documents
  • It should be possible to work with the following formats (3 common and 15 rare formats mentioned)
  • It should be able to drag and drop information from one structure to the other
  • The system should protect the users to make an error
  • The system should run integrated with our ERP system (xyz mentioned)
  • The system should be able to identify and manage project risk to support product and process changes throughout the product lifecycle

And one of my favorites:

  • The system shall be able to create, update, maintain and process main and typical sorts and types of documents and their source data. Both “tabular” data (lists/datasheets) and graphic (diagrams, etc.) data, as well as text data (technical reports, etc.) are understood in this requirement. However see also requirement 18 and requirement 54. The scope and types of documents should be possible to be modified in an easy way for various projects and various stages of development documentation for those projects

And the management added:

  • The implementer should come with a detailed implementation plan and budget
  • The implementer should guarantee the budget stays with xxx range
  • The implementer should provide 3 references of similar companies and tools.


clip_image008 The RFP document is usually a 20 to 50 page document – the amount of pages seems to have a correlation with the amount of money spent to consultancy. The total assembly costs for this document: 400 to 1000 man-hours (do your math for the initial costs)

Then the RFP document is sent to 5 or more potential suppliers, who need to answer for each requirement in detail if:

  • It is standard in the system
  • It can be done through configuring the system, explain.
  • It can be done through customization, please specify
  • It is not supported

Each vendor spends at least 500 man-hours to answer all these questions as much as possible with yes, it is standard. An although not understanding the requirements at all at some points, they only give positive answers, trying to stay away from the “It is not supported answer”.

So after at least 2500 (5 times 500) man-hours the company assisted by the consultant(s) think the know who to invite for the next stage of the PLM selection.


Did they make the right choice?

My statement is perhaps yes. So far they have wasted 3000 man-hours or more in the world just to be busy and come to a result which an experienced independent PLM consultant could do in a few days:

If you are this type of company – look at these vendors: company A, company B and perhaps company C for your PLM solution as you are in this industry, this IT-platform and this maturity – let’s discuss with them what we want to achieve

Next the real PLM selection process starts, here the investment and research should begin – and I would do this different. In my next post I will explain my approach.

Do you agree and would you do it different?
I am looking forward to your feedback.


dontmiss In my previous post (PLM for the mid-market – your opinion) I started a very small questionnaire – if you did not have the time (takes less than 5 minutes) or encouragement (please, please) to answer the 4 anonymous questions, please go there. End of October I promised to publish the results in this blog.

Direct link to the questionnaire: