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observation The last month I have been working with Aerosud Aviation in South Africa to finalize and conclude on ROI and the lessons learned around their PLM implementation, which started in May 2007.  I was lucky to be involved in the initial scoping of the project in 2007 and assisted the local Value Added Reseller together with the team from  Dassault Systèmes UK team in a step by step project towards PLM.

planningWhen I met the people in Aerosud the first time in 2007, I noticed it was a young company, with open-minded people, everyone trying to improve their daily activities per department. There was the need for PLM as some of their major customers required Aerosud to have a PLM system in place. Also Configuration Management was mentioned many times in the interviews and what I learned that time: Excel was the tool for configuration management.

Based on the initial interviews a plan needed to be developed in which steps to implement PLM.  The following three major points were the guidance for the implementation:

  1. The company was thinking documents and understanding documents especially Excel
  2. The company had no clear understanding of what PLM would mean for them as real awareness was not inside the company. Customers like Boeing and Airbus talked about the importance of PLM, but how this could impact Aerosud as a company was no commonly clear
  3. People in the company had a major focus on their department and there was no availability of a overarching group of people leading the implementation

You could say you will see the above points in many smaller and medium-sized companies. I wrote about it also in one of my previous posts: Where does PLM start beyond document management ?

The project phases

riaan The good news for Aerosud was that their PLM Champion was an expert in CATIA and was familiar with writing macros in Visual Basic plus the fact that everyone in the company was open for using the system as standard as possible – no demands for special behavior of the system:  “because we do this already for 100 years”

The last phrase you hear a lot in ancient Europe

The choice was to start with implementing ENOVIA SmarTeam Design Express and to focus in two phases around design data management (phase 1) and the usage of design data by other users (phase 2)

The plan was that each phase would take maximum 2-3 months and we would give the users the time to digest and change their habits towards the standards in the system. In reality it took almost a year, not due to technical or conceptual issues, but this was the maximum pace we could have with the amount of time and available resources. The good news after these two phases was that the first bullet was much clearer understood – the difference between having a system with a single version of the truth or Excel management.

businesssystem In the summer of 2008 (our summer – as it was winter in South Africa) there was a management workshop in Aerosud and here after three days of discussion the position of PLM became clear. One year ago this would not have been possible, now people had seen ENOVIA SmarTeam and they could imagine what benefits the system could further bring. This addressed the second bullet I mentioned before. Although this workshop was not scheduled upfront, looking back now I see this was a crucial point to get understanding for the next PLM steps.


The next PLM steps were extending to a real Item-centric data model, because if you want to do PLM you need to work around Bill of Materials and all related information to the items in the Bill of Material. At the end this gives you configuration management without chasing Excels.

Again the next steps were divided in two phases with again a scope of 2 – 3 months. The implementation would be based on the ENOVIA SmarTeam Engineering Express methodology which came as a logic extension of the current implementation, without having to change the database or existing data model.

In the first phase we had awareness sessions for BOM (discussing EBOM / MBOM / Effectivity, etc) plus in parallel we introduced the item as place holder for the information. Not longer folders or projects as the base.

Introduction of the item was conceptual not a big issue and the major activities in this phase were focused on connection legacy data or current data from projects to the items. Data coming from various sources (directories, legacy databases) plus NC data became connected and visible in the single version of truth.

In the second phase of moving to PLM the focus was on EBOM and MBOM. Initially assuring that from the designer point of view the CATIA design and EBOM were connected as smoothly as possible, trying to avoid a lot of administrative overhead on the designer (sometimes unavoidable – see my previous post: Where is my ROI, Mr. Voskuil)


After having implemented a streamlined CATIA – EBOM connection, the focus moved to the MBOM. For me this is the differentiator for companies if they implement PLM or just Product Data Management). Implementing the MBOM requires a culture change and this is the place where the ERP people need to see the benefits instead of the threats . Luckily in Aerosud the manufacturing engineers were working in their Excels initially and not in the ERP system – which happens a lot in older companies.

For that reason the concept of MBOM in PLM was much better understood. Now Aerosud is experiencing these capabilities and once they become obvious for everyone the third bullet will be addressed: people start to work in processes cross-departmental instead of optimizing their department with a specific tool.

phased implementation As this activity will continue, I also conducted with the Aerosud management and PLM implementation team an ROI assessment. Estimates about the experienced and projected benefits were kept low and on the realistic side. The result was that the outcome for the ROI period was approx 27 months, almost the same time as the whole project had as throughput time. This proved again the statement about a phased PLM approach. payback of project comes in parallel with the implementation and will ultimately fund the next steps.



shout_left End of July I will be holding a webinar with more details about this implementation for the Dassault VAR Community. I will be happy to expand this information for a wider audience afterwards, as I believe the project is representative for many mid-market companies that struggle to find the place where PLM fits ….. and brings ROI


Let me know if you are interested in this follow up and I will collect the inputs for a follow up.

22112007178In the past year I shared with you my thoughts around PLM. Most of the post were based on discussions with customers, implementers, resellers and peers around the world. I learned a lot and will keep on learning I assume, as PLM has many aspects:


– the products, there are many products with the label PLM

– the concept, how do we interpret PLM per industry

– the customers, what do they want to achieve, without buzz-word

– the world, people and economic trends drive us sometime to irrational decisions

In this post I will give an overview from the 2008 posts, categorized by topic. I am looking forward to further suggestions in the comments if you are interested in more depth in certain areas. In parallel I will continue to share my experiences and provide an overview of best-practices and terminology experienced in the PLM space.

PLM concepts

Managing the MBOM is crucial for PLM

Is there a need for classification – and how should it be done ?

Is the PLM concept applicable for mid-market companies too ?

What will happen with PLM – looking towards 2050



PLM and ERP – the culture change, continued

Connecting PLM and ERP – part 1, part 2, part 3



Implementing PLM is too costly ?

Implementing PLM takes too long ?

Why implement PLM next to an ERP system ?

How is PLM different from CAD data management ?

Too busy to implement PLM ?

Economical crisis creates the opportunity for change


Business Process Change

PLM in SMB requires a change in thinking

The management is responsible to initiate a change towards PLM

The change in automotive/aero supply chains to more advanced partners

How will mid-market companies pick-up the benefits from implementing PLM ?



European Enovia Customer Conference (ECC)

PLM in Greece – does it exist ?

Is the concept for PLM mature enough ?

Don’t expect a bottom up PLM implementation to become successful



I would like to conclude with a quote from my favorite scientist, who taught us everything is relative, however:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Looking forward to your feedback, wishes in 2009 !


Jos Voskuil

This week, I was in Bruxelles conducting a Engineering Express training for ENOVIA SmarTeam resellers. The feedback I got from the participants during the training made me again more aware from the culture change needed or dreamed about in the small and medium manufacturing enterprises.

As I wrote before in PLM and ERP – the culture change , there is for sure a conservative vision in the small and medium enterprises to stay with their major IT systems they invested in, usually ERP and (3D) CAD.

From the bigger enterprises and reading all the analyst reports, many of us project that the small and medium enterprises also need PLM in the same way as the bigger enterprises, but then in a more packaged, ready to use manner, instead of a custom implementation guided by PLM experts like the bigger enterprises did.

So ENOVIA SmarTeam Engineering Express is a prepackaged solution bringing PLM closer to the mid-market. However during the training many of the questions were not around the capabilities of the Engineering Express, but more about why do we(customers) need to use the same approach as bigger enterprises, why do we have the same needs?

Where big companies focus on defining and implementing processes in order to have a predictable outcome, I noticed in talking with SMB companies, they are proud of explaining they exist without these processes enforced, but work in a more flexible, human task oriented manner.

If we look to a classical ECR/ECO process, we see in bigger companies there are several steps to be identified to react on a outside request (the ECR) and to implement it (ECO).


An Engineering Change Request (ECR) process


An Engineering Change Order (ECO) process

In smaller companies the ECR process is already embedded in one singe ECO process. Sometimes a formal (email) based activity takes place before a change is requested and implemented. One of the participants in the course – a manufacturing company – mentioned that they had the notice of a CCB in their company but all engineering change requests were sent to the CCB by email and as the CCB was meeting on a weekly base, this was the process to filter engineering change requests.


So here is the question: Big enterprises need processes to remain manageable – like a big tanker needs a predefined methodology to navigate through a harbor. Small and medium enterprises are more relying on their flexibility and they need a reliable and sustainable way to react – like a small ship in a harbor – as it can react quickly there is no need for the anticipation, still the capability to change direction is needed.

So are small and medium enterprises that behave like small ships in the harbor ?

If yes, they need to remain open for change as going straight ahead at the end will lead to a collision – and the challenge remains to make the (culture) change.

Or if no, how can you provide small and medium enterprises with means that enforce change without creating the overhead that compromises the flexibility ?


I am looking forward to comments and thought on this question – please post them.

However my first priority tonight is to survive in Milan where the match Italy-France will decide who continues to the next round in the European Soccer Championship. Worst case in parallel the Netherlands looses from Romania, in that case both Italy and France are gone and this might be my last post:)

Hoping to write my next post at the end of this week.  ciao – adieu

The connection between PLM systems and ERP systems has kept many companies busy for many years. As both systems manage items in their system, all kind of battles are fought on ownership, redundancy of data and more. Last week I was involved in four different cases, which demonstrates this topic is very actual, and as most of the companies involved were in the mid-market, it shows also these companies are no in the phase of implementing and extending PLM within the organization.

In the first case, which I will comment here, it was a big enterprise using ENOVIA SmarTeam and SAP. As SAP has their own PLM module, the initial push was of course to use SAP all over, however the company considered the SAP PLM module not powerful and flexible enough for their engineering environment. For that reason the battle around the items and mainly the BOM for Manufacturing started.

The manufacturing BOM is usually the start point for production and the source for the ERP system to start production (and planning). For that reason, ERP systems claim ownership for this BOM, although the definition of the BOM is all based on engineering information within the PLM system.  As ERP systems are already established for many years, companies are familiar with defining the manufacturing BOM in their system, often a labor-intensive job as data needs to be collected from the engineering department, often in the form of spreadsheets.

PLM systems are designed to manage the manufacturing BOM , connecting all information within the system. This requires however, a change in the way people and a company is working. Engineers have more responsibility to enter complete data – there is no one to review and complete the data afterwards and combined with the lack of flexibility that people had before with Excel this lead to a cultural refusal from the floor.

If the management realizes that managing the manufacturing BOM in the PLM system will lead to less errors, a shorter time to production and less labor cost, they will push this approach top-down. This happened in many big PLM centric enterprises.  In smaller companies, this value is not visible for the management as often users, the IT department or the ERP team will pinpoint that the PLM system does not suit their needs, as it requires a change in working (their best practices).

Culture change will only come in the mid-market when PLM concepts become a commodity for companies too. The change will come, driven by ENOVIA SmarTeam with their mid market solutions. But we all know changes take time.

I will talk in my next posts in more details on PLM-ERP issues. FYI the customer mentioned in the beginning decided to keep the manufacturing BOM definition in SAP as this is what they understood and people decided not to take the risk with PLM.  

Culture change takes time ….



  1. As a complement, even if more and more of the diversity of a product is managed at the software level…

  2. 1) A wiring diagram stores information (wires between ports of the electrical components) that does not exist in most of…

  3. BOM has NEVER been the sole "master" of the Product. The DEFINITION FILE is ! For example the wiring of…

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