PLM Doctors: Demonstrating Flexibility and Adaptability, Putting People and Data First

Lionel Grealou Business Consulting Data PLM 3 minutes

Doctors are specially trained and licensed professionals, and their job is to make a diagnosis (find what’s wrong or likely to get wrong) and then, treat patients to help them get better or prevent them to get worse. There are many different types of doctors, like specialists, emergency room doctors, surgeons, and laboratory physicians, etc. Likewise, when it comes to implementing business change and more specifically Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions.

So why picking on PLM specifically? The answer is simple: often “PLM as a strategy”, discipline or tool (or all of the above) is perceived as either “black magic” or “smoke and mirrors” by those on the receiving end of such solution implementation.

Why is it hard to fix PLM implementations when they go wrong?

  • Because PLM implementations are intrinsically transformational, and often minimised or under-rated compared to transactional mainstream solutions.
  • Because it is hard to integrate operations with other enterprise disciplines and domains.
  • Because it can be complex, hard to simplify, and cross-functional; requiring consensus, compromises and continuous alignment..
  • Because sometimes vendors, resellers or systems integrators promise the moon and fail to deliver the basics (definitely not unique to PLM as such… but often amplified with PLM)
  • Because typically there is no such thing as a working out-of-the-box with a PLM solution: it always needs configuration and customisation of some sort (at least for most organizations operating with tailored processes within an integrated system landscape).
  • Because true business value emerges from data and process mining practices, leveraging operational insights, rather than simply hoping that things will change for the better by replacing one process by another, and / or one tool by another, topping this up with a bit or user education.
  • Because most of the time, traditional enterprise-IT teams do not understand PLM beyond CAD management, and everything else that’s under the hood and needs integration (especially when compared to ERP, CRM, etc. and other mainstream enterprise solutions).
  • Because often business leaders jump to the next thing(s) before the current thing is validated and deployed (skipping the basics, compromising robust foundation, changing priorities too often, or disregarding fundamental dependencies).
  • Because PLM solutions (or whatever they are called) often lead to false perception of simplicity, especially if it was a technical sale.
  • Because the IT jargon surrounding PLM is often misleading or exaggerated (e.g. the hyped digital twins included), showing a lack of adaptability to the target audience, or a lack of understanding of the business challenges.

Six pragmatic things to expect from PLM doctors?

PLM doctors typically focus on business problem solving, analysing symptoms, performing root cause deep dives and recommending remediations; they are pragmatic hands-on business architects, more people and data centric than technical or functional. PLM problems often have multiple root causes due to process dependencies, showing many misleading symptoms. PLM doctors focus on the following 6 perspectives:

  1. Providing technical and delivery assurance: e.g. changing the delivery mythology to bridge cultural or operational gaps.
  2. Restoring credibility and trust: e.g. resetting modus operandi with the business to align with new delivery methodology or leadership style.
  3. Re-aligning business change expectations and putting people back at the center of the transformation / education: e.g. shielding delivery team from detractors, setting realistic expectations, introducing proper communication channels, etc.
  4. Rebooting data cleansing requirements: e.g. focusing on data quality, compliance, alignment with process and governance.
  5. Revisiting deployment expectations and data migration dependencies: e.g. migration in smaller successive chunks of data to ease validation.
  6. Aligning enterprise integration expectations: e.g. reducing integration scope, performing manual alignment first, and gradually build up automation once processes and persistent data integrity are validated across relevant test cases.

PLM doctors demonstrate flexibility and adaptability

Flexibility, in business terms, refers to the ability to move along and be pragmatic when facing new or unexpected situations. Like in yoga, the more flexible the less likely to get injured. Business flexibility means being honest and transparent with each other, knowing the boundaries, but operating with an open mind that allows for collaborative resolution of issues.

Adaptability refers to the ability to assess the context (including the changing context), realign actions and plans, define a new method or approach in doing things differently. People constantly adjust their approach as things evolve, both internally and externally.

PLM doctors are typically flexible but pragmatic when reaching boundary conditions or interfering with core principles, adaptable but focused and reactive when facing changes or having to make change decisions that will contribute to restore trust and hopefully contribute to bring back on track PLM initiatives.

What are your thoughts?

Disclaimer: articles and thoughts published on v+d do not necessarily represent the views of the company, but solely the views or interpretations of the author(s); reviews, insights and mentions of publications, products, or services do neither constitute endorsement, nor recommendations for purchase or adoption. 

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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