PLM Transformation vs Tool Replacement

Lionel Grealou Digital 2 Comments


Most PLM implementations are typically reported as being IT­-driven initiatives focusing on traditional deployment challenges: 1) selecting the right PLM toolset, 2) implementing the required business rules, and 3) defining phase­-wise deployment for minimal disruption of the production operations.

While the above can be considered as minimum requirements to deliver any PLM projects or programs, they may not be sufficient to deliver upon the ‘full PLM’ promise. Individual PLM initiatives might contribute to series of relevant business improvements and levels of integration, however, their cumulative benefits might not be anywhere near the initial expected end­-to-­end result. Notwithstanding the fact that it might take years of implementation and deployment efforts before this conclusion can be drawn.

Full PLM’ benefits can be achieved through a business transformation approach as opposed to a tool replacement approach. This is why the focus of any PLM initiative which aims at making a difference should be on delivering critical business objectives and improvements that support the PLM vision.

PLM transformational changes imply:

  • Defining process improvements that constitute fundamental changes to the way the business currently operates (with agreed high level business requirements that carry clear recoverable benefit in dollar value). 
  • Aligning changes related to people, process and technology more closely with its business strategy and PLM vision (with a holistic view to meeting long term objectives). 

This can be driven by focusing on making significant improvements to customer service levels and enhanced customer experiences, by reviewing and the appraisal of what a business should do, by working with partners and by making better use of all types of resources, by improving the way the business works, and embracing new organisational structures, skills, processes and technologies. 

PLM tool replacement initiatives are typically IT­-driven solutions that aim at introducing new technology and / or reducing the cost of ownership. Key benefits will come from:

  • Reducing the risk of maintenance failure ­ assuming that proven solutions are introduced to replace legacy solutions which are not supported any more or which are too complex (or too old) to support.
  • Rationalising the number of application and interfaces. Decommissioning legacy applications.
  • Aligning data model and data bases to modern standards (e.g.. for re­usability, effectiveness, simplicity, etc.).
  • Using out­-of­-the-­box solutions and reducing (or at least controlling) the level of configuration and customisation.

PLM transformation and tool replacement are not mutually exclusive. However, it is typically more compelling to realise business benefits associated with process improvements rather than solely IT cost savings.

What are your thoughts?


This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 19 January 2015.