Now you have to get people to buy into all the changes -- staff, managers, suppliers, customers, everyone. These people all have work today, with tight deadlines on projects, all of which are paying the bills. You must convince them to take a small part of each day or week to work on the future and hone the PLM program.
For a reality check, we’re probably looking at four to six years from the first time the “PLM” idea got any real consideration.
In the end, the toughest issues are people issues. You have to think about how people share information and how they (or whether they) collaborate. How do some people understand some information better or differently than others? How do you get the 30-year CATIA or NX pro to work with the kid out of college who learned on Autodesk Inventor? You need to think about how to build rewards systems that show others how the benefits that accrue in a “new generation” project lead to personal success and benefit the group, the team, the project, the division, etc.
Cultural issues are also huge detriments to effective collaboration. A few years ago, Kim Cameron and Bob Quinn wrote a book called Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. In their research, they cite a statistic that as many as three-quarters of re-engineering, TQM, or strategic planning efforts fail or create problems that could kill their companies, most often caused by neglecting the organization's culture.
Now is the time to start talking to vendors and evaluating the technology, capabilities, costs, users, training, and so on. This is the easy part, but after all of this, we’re talking about at least a five- to six-year window for a major initiative like PLM to gain a foothold in a company and a year or more to begin to deliver on its promise.
The bottom line: Plan for PLM, work on it, and a decade later, you’ll have a real measurable competitive advantage that many other companies are just now beginning to experience.