The past half-year I have been intensively discussing potential PLM roadmaps with companies of different sizes and different maturity in PLM. Some companies are starting their PLM journey after many years of discussion and trying to identify the need and scope, others have an old PLM implementation (actually most of the time it is cPDM) where they discover that business paradigms from the previous century are no longer sufficient for the future.
The main changing paradigms are:
- From a linear product-driven delivery process towards an individual customer focused offering based on products and effective services, quickly -adapting to the market needs.
- From a document-driven, electronic files exchange based processes and systems towards data-driven platforms supporting information to flow in almost real-time through the whole enterprise.
Both changes are related and a result of digitization. New practices are under development as organizations are learning how to prepare and aim for the future. These new practices are currently dominating the agenda from all strategic consultancy firms as you cannot neglect the trend towards a digital enterprise. And these companies need next practices.
And what about my company?
It is interesting to see that most of the PLM implementers and vendors are promoting best practices, based on their many years of experience working having customers contributing to functionality in their portfolio.
And it is very tempting to make your customer feel comfortable by stating:
“We will implement our (industry) best practices and avoid customization – we have done that before!”
I am sure you have heard this statement before. But what about these best practices as they address the old paradigms from the past?
Do you want to implement the past to support the future?
Starting with PLM ? Use Best Practices !
If the company is implementing PLM for the first time and the implementation is bottom-up you should apply the old PLM approach. My main argument: This company is probably not capable/ready to work in an integrated way. It is not in the company´s DNA yet. Sharing data and working in a controlled environment is a big step to take. Often PLM implementations failed at this point as the cultural resistance was too big.
When starting with classical PLM, avoid customization and keep the scope limited. Horizontal implementations (processes across all departments) have more success than starting at engineering and trying to expand from there. An important decision to make at this stage is 2D leading (old) or the 3D Model leading (modern). Some future thoughts: How Model-based definition can fix your CAD models. By keeping the scope limited, you can always evolve to the next practices in 5 -10 years (if your company is still in business).
Note 1: remark between parenthesis is a little cynical and perhaps for the timeframe incorrect. Still, a company working bottom-up has challenges to stay in a modern competitive global environment.
Note 2: When writing this post I got notified about an eBook available with the tittle Putting PLM within reach written by Jim Brown. The focus is on cloud-based PLM solution that require less effort/investments on the IT-side and as side effect it discourages customization (my opinion) – therefore a good start.
Evolving in PLM – Next Practices
Enterprises that have already a PDM/PLM system in place for several years should not implement the best practices. They have reached the level that the inhibitors off a monolithic, document based environment are becoming clear.
They (must) have discovered that changing their product offering or their innovation strategy now with partners is adding complexity that cannot be supported easily. The good news, when you change your business model and product offering, there is C-level attention. This kind of changes do not happen bottom-up.
Unfortunate business changes are often discussed at the execution level of the organization without the understanding that the source of all products or offering data needs to be reorganized too. PLM should be a part of that strategic plan and do not confuse the old PLM with the PLM for the future.
The PLM for the future has to be built upon next practices. These next practices do not exists out of the box. They have to be matured and experienced by leading companies. The price you pay when being a leader Still being a leader bring market share and profit your company cannot meet when being a follower.
The Bi-modal approach
As management of a company, you do not want a disruption to switch from one existing environment to a new environment. Too much risk and too disruptive – people will resist – stress and bad performance everywhere. As the new data-driven approach is under development (we are learning), the end target is still moving.
Evolving using the old PLM system towards the new PLM approach is not recommended. This would be too expensive, slow and cumbersome. PLM would get a bad reputation as all the complexity of the past and the future are here. It is better to start the new PLM with a new business platform and customer-oriented processes for a limited offering and connect it to your legacy PLM.
Over the years the new PLM will become more clear and grow where the old PLM will become less and less relevant. Depending on the dynamics of your industry this might take a few years till decades.
It must and will be a business-driven learning path for new best practices
Best Practices and Next Practices are needed in parallel. Depending on the maturity and lack of sharing information in your company, you can choose. Consider the bi-modal approach to choose a realistic time path.
What do you think? Could this simplified way of thinking help your company?