PLM Mirage

Many years ago I’ve been working on a contract project for large telecom company. I was running development team of 6 engineers. The project had short timeline. Requirements included enormous list of features. The pressure from management was significant. One day I discussed a status with division director representing the customer. He told me – you need to start killing engineers to finish our project on time. He understood that I was surprised and explained. Engineers will always keep developing and improve features. You won’t be able to finish it on time. The project will become a mirage in desert with no profit.

Since that time, I’ve seen many PLM projects that look like a mirage in a desert. Companies are starting PLM initiative one day and don’t know how to get it done. New requirements are coming, new features, new technologies, updates, mergers and acquisitions… You name it. PLM became a synonym of very large, complex and expensive project. It pretended to do too many things. Sales over-promise what PLM technology can do. The demand to change the way manufacturing company is manage product development was not realistic. Engineers ranted about complexity and unresolvable bugs. PLM project cost was running through the roof.

So, what is wrong with PLM? How to rethink it? In my view, it goes deep in the way you plan product development, engineering and manufacturing. Think about your product. It is never done. When it done, you business is dead. You don’t want your business to die. So, you look for new customers, develop new features, simplify your customer experience. The same should be done with Product Lifecycle Management. You need to think about it as iteration of deliveries – version 1, version 2, version 3… It won’t be done forever. You implement and use PLM to make your product better, to manage data, to communicate better and improve the manufacturing process and customer experience.

To make PLM project successful, think about it as a roadmap from one oasis in a desert to another. You need to come from point to the point. Otherwise, you are dead with no water.

Picture credit – (c) Can Stock Photo

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