The 15 Pillars of Effective PLM Delivery Management

Lionel Grealou Digital 7 minutes

Effective PLM transformation initiatives are typically structured in programmes following a multi­-wave implementation and deployment framework. Managing PLM transformation initiatives as programmes allows focusing on benefit realisation and aligning consistently complex interdependent projects to deliver against a common set of objectives and vision. A programme is commonly defined as a group of related projects managed together to obtain specific business benefits and controls that would likely not occur if these projects were managed individually.

Programme management is focused on achieving the strategic objectives and benefits of a number of integrated projects. Effective PLM delivery relies on a 15 pillar delivery management framework:

1. Stakeholder management

Key customers and other stakeholders must be clearly identified – e.g. from c­-level executives to business champions, current functional process owners, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and technical experts. Stakeholder mapping is necessary to identify influencers, supporters, level of interest and power in the organisation at various levels and roles. This will need constant monitoring and will derive into concrete actions to align and communicate to the business community, across various business functions, internally and externally.

Stakeholder management plays a critical role in delivering successful PLM programmes, from a people and process point of view. PLM programmes are typically aligned to address specific critical ‘pain points’ in the business. The delivery structure of the programme is organised in business­-driven work­-streams which constitute a matrix structure across PLM technical domains.

2. Governance

Robust governance is a critical success factor to implementing changes, especially in complex PLM programmes – however, it is consider as ‘best practice’ to implement a strong governance structure to support any business transformation initiatives to ensure people and process alignment. A typical PLM governance structure includes the following key forums:

  • Strategic executive steering committee, which regroups the ultimate programme sponsors at the apex of the business to align strategic goals inter and intra­-programmes.
  • Programme board, which focuses on strategic decisions related to the PLM programme. Change Advisory Board (CAB), which sanctions the change control process overall.
  • Business Change Authority (BCA), which is to capture business requirements, coordinate process definition activities, identify organisational impacts, define new ways of working, and focus on benefit realisation; the BCA also typically owns the communication and deployment strategy.
  • Solution Definition Authority (SDA), which focuses on the technical solution ‘fit for purpose’; the SDA owns the transition strategy.
  • Business work­-stream champion and team forums, which focus on both change management and delivery following a matrix structure across business change and technical teams

The programme governance model is contextually based in any organisation and is to be adjusted to various cultural factors and the change vision that supports the PLM programme.

3. Requirement management

Business requirements must come from the business. Significant effort is typically required to defined and document them consistently. They are based on high level assumptions that must be shared and validated across the business. Various dependencies might also emerge from these assumptions and business requirements. They then cascade into detailed functional and non­functional requirements that will need to be translated into design specifications and tested accordingly in a structured manner (typical V­system approach).

Business requirements must be attached to specific projects or groups of projects for implementation.

4. Scope management

The high level business case of the PLM programme constitutes the high level scope at inception. Business requirements and benefit rationalisation are then to drive the scope of the programme (top­down analysis at start­up and bottom­-up analysis at initiation). The core of the solution, or ‘PLM backbone’, is typically technology dependent and constitutes the foundation of the new technical architecture.

Every business requirement and their expected benefits constitute the scope the PLM programme which derives into its respective sub­-projects for implementation. Quick­-win projects might be identified to demonstrate early adoption by the business and facilitate business transformation preparation. These projects are also to be managed holistically in terms of scope to avoid any deviation from the overarching strategic intent.

5. Planning

Programme and project­-level plan cascade (milestone) and roll up (progress) into each other in a structured approach. A typical planning framework includes:

  • Level 0 programme plan (or roadmap) – with high level timing, phases and gates across single or multiple delivery waves.
  • Level 1 programme plan – with high level tasks and work­-stream milestones which govern a specific delivery wave, including high level intra and inter­dependencies (across strategic projects and programmes – e.g. PLM and ERP programme dependencies).
  • Level 2 programme plan – with detailed deliverable tracking activities and millstones, showing detailed dependencies and overall critical path across sub­project portfolio.
  • Level 3 project plans – with detailed resourced activities, dependencies, and deliverables which align to the level 2 programme plan.

Programme planning includes:

  • Weekly planning cycle
  • Key delivery and communication milestones
  • Core resource pool management
  • Project interdependency and critical path monitoring Planning standards and templates
  • Programme gateway artefact readiness and countdown process

6. CSF / ­KPI

Concise and regular reporting is critical to delivering successful PLM projects. Dashboards must be created to enable informed decision­-making and effective communication. This will also be critical to sustain executive engagement on the programme.

Defining the right metrics and reporting cadence and format must be linked to the programme governance and structure. Clear metrics are defined against each KPIs and CSFs and monitored weekly or monthly:

  • Critical Success Factors (CSFs) – which define success.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – which define how to measure success for each CSF.

7. Benefit realisation

Top­down benefit estimation is typically done at programme inception, in a top­down manner for budget preparation purposes. Then, benefits are assessed in more detailed during the programme initiation. Bottom­-up benefit analysis is done for all individual projects and at the programme level while rolling up all sub­project benefits in a bottom­-up manner.

It is mandatory to monitor expected benefit realisation by work­-stream on an ongoing basis, and following the change control process. Programme benefit and scope are closely related; a robust risk and issue management is required to control and manage stakeholder expectations as the programme matures. Benefit change impact assessment is an integrated component of the change control process.

8. Budget / cost

It is expected that, for strategic PLM initiatives, budget will be granted for delivery of a specific programme wave rather than on a project­-by-­project basis. As the matter of fact, this will be the most efficient way to ensure that the PLM transformation is led by benefit realisation rather than solely technology change.

On a typical PLM programme, cost will be managed at sub­-project and programme levels, across the life­cycle of a specific wave and also on an annual basis (for year on year budgeting tracking purposes).

9. Change control

Every projects and programmes require a Change Request (CR) process to manage changes in scope (deliverables), benefit, cost, and delivery timings – components which are obviously closely interrelated.

Changes are to be assessed for ‘fit for purpose’ by both BCA and SDA, and then ratified by the programme CAB, such as:

  • Is this change aligned with the programme strategy?
  • Is additional information required? (e.g. damage statement / impact analysis) Are all CAB stakeholders supporting the CR?
  • Have impacts on business requirement been identified?
  • Have impacts on other technical domain and project dependencies been analysed? Have cost and benefit impacts been identified?
  • Have impacts on the programme plan been identified?
  • Has a plan or specific action been agreed for the CR to be implemented?

10. Supplier management

Specific suppliers / partners might be identified to support PLM transformation programmes and help with risk mitigation and quality assurance. Contract and relationship management is at the core of successful delivery of complex and/or large PLM initiatives. This typically implies Memorandum of Understanding, Master Services Agreement, Statement of Work, and other contractual arrangements to support delivery services. For System Integrator (SI) suppliers, detailed Service Level Agreements must be defined and managed throughout the execution of each programme phases. The management and coordination of specific skills and resources is typically monitored as the programme matures to ensure continuity of service, knowledge transfer and support as the solution get deployed and handed over to Business-as-Usual (BaU) functions.

11. Methodology and artefact management

Programme artefacts must be consistently defined and managed. Effective communication and positive leadership of the management team is critical to keep sight of the programme vision and roadmap. Middle management leadership is also critical to cascade the information downstream to the delivery teams.

A programme library must be created to ensure that templates, methodology documentation and PLM deliverables are consistently and efficiently captured, and stored centrally in a common and accessible repository – e.g. typically stored on structured SharePoint sites.

Various methodologies are required to deliver effectively and efficiently, such as:

  • PLM technical functional and non­functional requirement documentation templates (blueprint)
  • Assessment and monitoring tools
  • Benefit trackers
  • Process forms, lists and templates
  • Process mapping templates and tools
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) methodology
  • On/off­shore delivery and ‘software factory’ framework

12. Resources and facilities

Efficient resource ramp-­up is critical to enable complex programme delivery. Recruitment and on/off­-boarding processes are to support this ramp­-up, manage the different enabling assets, and ensure that new team members are quickly integrated, knowledge from leavers is transferred to the teams and each programme resource is able to deliver as per expectations. The implementation of these processes depends on the supplier engagement model and team location.

13. Assurance and learning

On complex PLM initiatives, quality assurance is a key component to get internal and external feedback. These might be in the form of:

  • Regular programme health­-checks
  • Quality standards, checks and balances
  • Risk assessment and mitigation / roll­back plans
  • Knowledge sharing database and collaboration / learning tools

14. Communication

Business transformation initiatives require a robust communication strategy to encompass for the various stakeholders’ expectations. It is meant to facilitate cultural changes and the implementation of new processes.

The communication strategy articulates, explains and promotes a vision and a set of well­defined goals; it creates a consistent, unified “voice” that links diverse activities and goals in a way that appeals to a specific stakeholders. Various activities will derive from the communication strategy and will be managed as part of the communication plan. It typically includes:

  • Stakeholder mapping­-driven and audience­-centred communication, including risk management and in a constructive way that follows the programme governance structure.
  • Communication processes for business requirement gathering, adoption, validation, sign­-off and benefit realisation.
  • Business impact assessment (internal and external communication).
  • Event sequence, template and planning for requirement delivery review with business stakeholders (at various levels – e.g. champion, key users and SMEs, etc.).
  • Early adoption and deployment messages.
  • Education or change agents and ramp­-up to entire business communities.
  • Cultural change measurement.
  • Organisational change and risk assessment.
  • Clear, concise, consistent, convincing and compelling PLM transformation branding.

Various media and approaches are to be used as part of the communication plan to implement the required strategy; in no particular order: various events, from Share Fair to surveys, internal and internal web sites, videos, use cases, process workflows, mobile dashboards, newsletters, etc.

15. Risk and issue management

The consistent, systematic and continuous management of risks and issues is critical for the successful delivery of any business initiatives. It is even more relevant for complex PLM programmes with various dependencies and which involve number of stakeholders across many business function. They need to be managed centrally and follow clear monitoring and escalation processes with touch points at different levels in the programme governance structure. Typical management of mitigation and resolution plans are in place to deliver deployment activities and organisational changes.

The above is certainly not unique to PLM programmes. Nevertheless, it is very relevant as it enables robust stakeholder engagement, change management, informed decision making and continuous business benefit realisation tracking.

What are your thoughts?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 30 January 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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