If your are reading blogs related to PLM, I am sure you have seen a blog post from Stephen Porter (Zero Wait State), for example: The PLM state  the walking dead – PLM projects that never end.

Like Stephen, I am often triggered by an inspiring book, a touching movie or a particular song combined with my PLM-twisted brain I relate the content to PLM (there is no official name for this abnormality yet).

When driving home last week, I was listening to Phil Collins – In the air tonight

As I was just coming back from a discussion around PLM tools, BOMs and possible PLM expansion strategies in a company with customers and resellers, my twisted brain was thinking about two PLM related topics that were in the air tonight (at least for me).

Granularity vs. Integration: Suites vs. Best-in-class PLM

You must have noticed it, and if not, now you are aware:  Jim Brown and Chad Jackson started a PLM duel discussion platform at Engineering.com to bring PLM related topics to the table: TECH4PD.  Watch them argue and I hope with your feedback and the feedback of the PLM community, it will  help us to make up your mind.

The topic they discussed in their first session was about two different approaches you can have for PLM. Either start from a best in class PLM platform or build your PLM support by using dedicated applications and integrate them.


This is to my opinion one of the fundamental PLM topics to discuss.  And if I would have to vote (as  Jim and Chad ask you to do so), I would first vote for Chad (integration of software) and after a second thought, vote for Jim (best in class PLM). So see my problem.

If I relate the discussion to my experiences with  different companies, I realized that probably both answers are correct. In case you are an OEM you likely would benefit from a best in class PLM platform, as PLM systems aim to cover and integrate all data through the product lifecycle in a single system, single data model, etc.. So a good PLM platform would have the lowest cost of ownership in the long term.  OEMs are by definition not the smallest companies and in general have the highest need for global coverage.

But not every company is an OEM. Many mid-market companies are specific suppliers,serving different OEMs and although they also develop products, it is in a different context of market delivery. There is a need to be flexible, as their products used by OEMs might become obsolete in the near term, they need to be more flexible, reactive. and the best in class companies innovate and are proactive. For that reason they do want to invest in a best in class PLM system, which somehow brings some rigidness , but keep on optimizing these areas where improvement is needed in their organization, instead of changing the organization.

I believe this question will remain in the air until we get a clear split between these two types of PLM. There is a trend splitting classic PLM (OEM oriented) and new upcoming PLM solutions. Till that time, we will be confused by the two approaches. It is a typical PLM disease and the reason you do not experience the same discussion for ERP is obvious. ERP is much more a linear process that both for the OEMs and mid-market companies is aiming to manufacture products or goods at a single location. The differentiation is in global manufacturing. Where do you manufacture your products ?  Here the OEMs might have a bigger challenge. Global manufacturing is a PLM challenge too, which is in the air.

Where is the MBOM ?

This is the topic most visited in my blog and I am preparing a session with the MBOM as theme combined with PLM  for the upcoming PLM Innovation US conference end of October in Atlanta. I am not going to disclose all  the content here, but I will give you some thoughts that are in the air.

Companies historically manage their BOM in ERP, but as a result of globalization they now need to manage their manufacturing BOM at different locations. But each location has its own ERP and a local (M)BOM. What to do ?

This is in the air:

  • How do you keep the relation with the
    original engineering intent, the product information and the various local
    activities ?
  • Is the ERP system still the place to build
    the MBOM ?
  • Do you need an EBOM and MBOM in PLM ?
  • Cannot we have a single BOM ?
  • What about search technology ?
  • …..

I hope you will participate in both discussions that are the air, either by commenting to this blog, through Tech4PD, your blog (Oleg  ? 😉 ) or your participation at PLM Innovation US.

Looking forward to discuss with you about what you believe is in the air tonight.


Conclusion (as usual): It is a busy time – we are heading towards the end of the year, which for some reason is a deadline for many companies. So no long thought processes this time, just what is in the air.