PLM Maturity and CMMI

Lionel Grealou PLM 2 minutes

Information management during the whole product life-cycle is important, utilizing information from multiple different operational sources and sharing across functions to support the decision making in different stages of the product realization cycle. This could be another definition of Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) from a data perspective.

Maturity models can be characterized as special types of roadmaps for implementing practices in an organization, and their purpose is to help in the continuous improvement of the capabilities of an organisation in certain application or management areas – such as software development, and process development.

There are several reasons why PLM and competency or capability management practices (such as maturity models) should be linked together:

  • PLM is about change (organizational and individual, ie skills, competencies, roles)
  • PLM is about continuous improvement (phased approach to deployment and discovering detailed requirements and opportunities for improvement)
  • PLM is holistic and is about breaking the organizational silos – due to its complex, systemic and organization-wide nature, beyond Product Data Management (PDM), beyond Engineering and Manufacturing into finance, sales and marketing, procurement, supply chain, etc.
  • PLM requires carefully alignment of process and IT system changes and often simultaneous changes in related personnel skills and competences, processes and incentive systems

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is an established way to asses required capabilities and capability levels, done by recognizing key performance indicators (KPIs)or goals in each process area or position. Each KPI is defined in measurable operational terms and connected to specific or general practices. The CMMI model is structured as follows:

  • 5-level process maturity continuum (1. initial, 2. repeatable, 3. defined, 4. managed, 5. optimized)
  • Key Process Areas (e.g. in the context of PLM, they can be function-driven or competency-driven)
  • Goals, by Key Process Area
  • Common features, including practices that implement and institutionalize a Key Process Area
  • Key Practices, including elements of infrastructure and practice that contribute most effectively to the implementation and institutionalization of each Key Process Area

PLM maturity can be assessed using CMMI process maturity levels covering the selected scope.

PLM implementation requires a roadmap that is an integrative plan for implementation. Capabilities and capability management can also seen as an integral part of (any) implementation process. Key challenges in any PLM implementation include organizational readiness, in maturity maturity terms, to change the way the business operates. A key question when considering change: “is the organization willing and/or able to deploy a new way of working?”.. should this be a single of multiple process change, an operating model or structure change, a more complex set of changes combined together…

CMMI provides a useful approach and maturity ladder to define the scope of PLM, specific goals and KPIs; however, it includes neither a roadmap to identify, prioritize and implement key PLM process improvement areas (PLM business case) nor a framework for change readiness assessment and alignment.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 29 March 2015.

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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