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The Slow Ramp to PLM's Value

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Learning Curve
williamlweaver   10/7/2011 9:49:22 AM
I agree with you, David. Just like a new operating system or a drastically new machine interface, the learning curve can be very steep and time consuming before the benefits of the upgrade are realized. I've been teaching Systems Dynamics to undegraduates and it takes a while for them to "get it" --- and that is without first having to erase any misconceptions or poor practices developed out of a Mechanical Management view. On the optimistic side, I'd say 10 years is pretty quick.  =]

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Learning Curve
Beth Stackpole   10/7/2011 10:37:16 AM
I've been covering PLM since 1999 and I have to agree it's only been in the last couple of years when you've really started to hear more tangible examples of how companies are gaining efficiencies and driving innovation in product development through the use of PLM practices and software.

I think part of the slow ramp is that the initial wave of software was pretty un-user friendly and expensive. Just like with any new enterprise platform, the amount of dollars poured into consulting engagements just trying to get the platform tuned to the way an organization worked sent the price tag of early PLM implementations skyrocketing.

Today, however, you see more out-of-the-box packaged tools, many custom tailored for workflows and business processes fitting particular vertical industries, which helps time to value. The software is less toolkit-like and more like what people are used to and there has been tons of effort by vendors to flesh out these suites with additional modules (think supplier management, requirements management, service and support) so they are not glorified Product Data Management (PDM) platforms tuned only to the needs of managing CAD files.

All in all, good stuff, but I think way more value to come!

David Prawel
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Re: Learning Curve
David Prawel   10/7/2011 2:55:26 PM
I had high hopes for the SOA/SaaS movement in recent years - another pretty high ramp-up cycle. Another great concept, but tough to tell if this was a lot of vapor, or something real. You mention verticalized applications. I think that's the key, and architecture is EVERYTHING. SOS/SaaS software infrastructures can provide great architectures upon which one could build a suite of highly customized PLM applications, WITHOUT incurring the huge "one off" implementation cost of an SAP or "traditional" PLM implementation. It could be much like the Droid platform provided for developers in consumer mobile device software, but instead packaged for corpoate use in their own unique product lifecycle.  Trouble is, after much early hype, and many vendors claiming they "do it", I don't yet see any evidence of anyone using it and certainly not benefitting from it. One could suppose that means apps are still in the works, or, hmm... maybe it was vapor.

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Re: Learning Curve
Glenn_Crosby   10/10/2011 12:40:13 PM
We are inthe middle of implementing a high-end PLM software system.  My assessment so far is that we would have been much better off by just working on our PLM processes (within the in-house, ad-hoc framework) without buying very expensive software and tying ourselves to the very unfriendly and rather inflexible software platform.

Are the experiences of others similar?

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Re: Learning Curve
jurgendaub   10/10/2011 2:00:03 PM

would you be willing ot share which one of the available PLM systems you decided to use?


Michael Grieves
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Many, many examples of PLM Value
Michael Grieves   10/11/2011 8:54:19 AM

I have to disagree with the premise of this article that we are not seeing value from PLM. I have many, many examples from a wide variety of organizations of substantial value from PLM in both engineering and manufacturing. I have done a number of case studies going back to 2003 that feature organizations obtaining real value from PLM. More recently, in my work with NASA, I have a number of examples of multimillion dollar savings from manufacturing simulations.

A few years back, Purdue did a survey of PLM users. One of the questions asked was the level of return on investment from PLM projects. Most respondents checked the "greater than 35%" response, which was the highest option.

While I would agree that organizations need to change processes, practices, and even culture in order to get the maximum benefit from PLM, the reality is that I have yet to run across an organization that didn't get benefit from PLM, even if they simply used it as a tool. That may not have gotten the benefit that they could of, but they got enough benefit to justify investment.

If you have examples of organizations that brought PLM in, it failed to give them value, and they abandoned it, I'd like to hear about it.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Many, many examples of PLM Value
Jack Rupert, PE   10/12/2011 1:42:51 PM
@Michael - You're right, of course, that where PLM is properly implemented there tends to be a big benefit.  However, it is generally the larger companies that can devote the resources necessary to implement it.  Unfortunately, its the small to mid-sized places that are having a hard time justifying the time and expense.

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