PLM Training Workshop, Product Data: Finding It - Using It (4), Simplifying PLM, PLM=ERP, PLM is about People


2PLM Newsletter

John Stark Associates                                                                                                                                          September 24, 2012 - Vol15 #11

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PLM Training Workshop
by John Stark
The Geneva International PLM Group announced that it will hold a Workshop at the PLM Institute, Geneva, Switzerland on Friday September 28, 2012.


The Workshop will focus on the current steps in the Group's activity to develop a Generic Introductory PLM Course (GIPC):

  • Completing, sorting and grouping typical trainee questions by topic
  • Naming and describing each identified topic
  • Identifying training goals and learning objectives for each topic

 After the September 28 Workshop, the GIPC's next Virtual Workshop will be launched in order to progress further with GIPC training goals and learning objectives. More details of the Workshop here.

Membership of the Geneva International PLM Group is open to those working for a discrete or process manufacturing company in a PLM role (e.g. PLM Director, PLM Manager, PLM Project Manager, PLM Team Member, PLM Business Analyst, etc.). Membership of the Group is free of charge. You can join here on LinkedIn. The Group is independent of PLM product and service providers, and focuses on the business, management and organisational issues of Product Lifecycle Management.

Product Data: Finding It - Using It by Deploying a Search Engine Solution (4)
by Dick Bourke
Part 4: Justifying an Investment

With any emerging information technology (IT), a key question arises: What's in it for us? Fortunately, there are compelling reasons for companies to invest in a search engine solution (SES). Now, let's explore this subject - before returning to the "How to" of SESs.

Overview - Developing a Business Case
Here is a three-step approach:

  1. Identify the time lost in frantic, frustrating and often futile searching for needed information
  2. Recognize other time outlays and costs of not having adequate searching capabilities
  3. Relate the SES justification to its effect on strategic objectives

Step 1 - Identify time lost
As an initial step, conduct an internal survey to estimate and document the potential time-savings of all knowledge workers.

Numerous surveys over the years have noted the excessive time lost by knowledge workers searching for needed product data. Consulting firms and manufacturing companies have identified figures as high as 25% in a day because of wasteful and often futile efforts to find data. Moreover, CIMdata cites that engineers spend half or more of their time searching for data and then validating it.

Knowledge workers, however, include those in many other functions in an enterprise. For example, customer service personnel in one company indicated losses of tens of thousands of dollars due to inability to answer customers' questions. The root cause: inability to find critical information in a timely manner.

A major assumption, though, is that claiming time-savings will be just a starting point for a comprehensive SES justification.

Step 2 - Recognize other time outlays and associated costs
An SES justification case should be enriched by identifying costs that can be eliminated by deploying and taking advantage of adequate searching capabilities. Most likely, many companies are incurring the following time outlays and costs every day, to name a few:

  • Recreating product designs or documents (Can be as high as 11 times the cost of the original)
  • Creating/maintaining duplicated part numbers (Past surveys estimate the cost from $6,000 to $25,000)
  • Struggling to maintain current part classification/coding schemes and file systems to support data retrieval

These time outlays and costs are avoidable and should be estimated as an essential element for justifying an SES investment.
Another category of "Costs to Avoid:" Those that have not yet incurred, even if under consideration, or already budgeted. One prime example, from above, is the potential costs for repurposing/migrating existing classification/coding conventions and data. This approach is supposedly considered necessary for effective information retrieval. Avoiding such expenditures, nevertheless, is a valid and significant benefit for deploying an SES.

Step 3 - Relate an SES justification to strategic objectives
An investment analysis will probably be mandatory in these difficult times. So, put on the marketing hat. If you're the evangelist, know your C-level executive motivations and tap into their hot buttons.

Claiming just time-savings, though, may not resonate sufficiently with those who approve new IT projects.

Therefore, think in terms of a hierarchy of company objectives, starting with the day-to-day (operational) time-savings that contribute to the next higher level objective, such as improved personnel productivity. Certainly, such objectives carry greater weight for gaining project acceptance than the valid, but more illusory, time-savings.

The value of taking advantage of improved personnel productivity can be substantial. For instance, reducing product development times, risks and associated costs contributes to achieving a company's strategic objectives, such as, "Reducing time-to-market."

The many research/analyst firms in the engineering and manufacturing space also constantly reiterate the above sentiments, e.g., Aberdeen, CIMdata, Tech-Clarity, Gartner and others. Design Reuse is often stressed.

Another justification point is to support innovation. This is still garnering significant interest as a driver of growth and competitive excellence. And, innovation requires timely and complete access to all relevant data - facilitated by an SES.

Furthermore, this discussion has focused on the "gross" numbers for savings and values. For a complete justification case, however, a "netted" number would account for costs of software, training and implementation.

What's Next
In my next column, I'll return to describing the "How to" of SESs. Direct your questions and comments to me at


Simplifying PLM
by Scott Cleveland
Way too much time is being spent on talking about defining PLM.

I was working for a PDM [product data management] vendor when the term PLM [product lifecycle management] was coined. The PDM vendors [marketing departments] needed to find a way to describe themselves that would differentiate their software from basic document management software. Instead of saying "we are a PDM vendor that can manage documents", they preferred to say "we are a PLM vendor". It sounded more important and there were fewer competitors.

My Thoughts....
Document Management software manages documents. It's like storing them in a vault. You must have the right user id and password to check them out. Some Document Management software packages have a workflow component to go with their ability to manage documents. In this case, workflow is only bump and run. A job comes to me, I work on it, click 'done' (or something similar) and it goes to the next person.

Business Process Management [BPM] software allows you to create business rules using logic to determine what happens next. Most BPM software don't manage documents but a few do.

Product Data Management [PDM] software manages documents and configurations [bills of materials] and they will have at least a workflow component.

Product Lifecycle Management [PLM] software is document-based BPM that can also manage configurations. Not just bills of materials [configurations of parts] but configurations of documents/files as well.

All of this to say .... an acronym won't solve your problems. Don't talk acronyms - talk about your requirements. Look for a solution that meets your requirements.

His Thoughts....

In Product Lifecycle Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product Realisation, John Stark defined PLM like this:

PLM is the business activity of managing, in the most effective way, a company's products all the way across their lifecycles; from the very first idea for a product all the way through until it is retired and disposed of.

PLM manages both individual products and the Product Portfolio, the collection of all of a company's products.

PLM manages products from the beginning of their life, including development, through growth and maturity, to the end of life.

The objective of PLM is to increase product revenues, reduce product-related costs, maximise the value of the product portfolio, and maximise the value of current and future products for both customers and shareholders.


Your Thoughts....
What's your opinion? Are definitions of PLM important to you?


Scott Cleveland can be contacted on +1 408-464-6387

by Roger Tempest
The first PLM-ERP Workshop took place in Bristol last week, and produced the first draft of the PLM-ERP Handbook. As well as covering 15 different technical areas, the Handbook addresses higher-level issues, including:-

"What is 'PLM-ERP' exactly?"

This turns out to be a very important question. We are trying to "integrate PLM and ERP" but, in fact, PLM and ERP are different representations of the same thing.

The only reason we have to spend so much effort integrating them nowadays is because they evolved separately, from the ground up. As we all know, ERP evolved from the manufacturing systems that companies needed to control their operations, and PLM from the systems that companies needed to control their designs. This is a feature of evolution - things evolve in the way that they can evolve, not according to how they should.

If we could start now, armed with all our knowledge and technology, we would not create PLM or ERP. We would build one single product management system for the entire enterprise, that manages the data from its first inception right through the manufacturing and build to field service and support.

So you could forget about matching the product configuration in PDM with that in ERP, because they would be the same. And you compare the cost outturns to the designed-in costs, to know how and when to update and optimise the design. And so many other wonderful things.

However, we have to start where we are now, and that means the PLM-ERP integration drive will continue. There is a serious side to this. In order to integrate PLM and ERP within a business, everyone has to stop thinking of themselves as a "PLM person" or an "ERP person", and this is going to be hard to achieve.

So as a starting point, perhaps the hyphen in 'PLM-ERP' should be replaced by a "double hyphen", to make something called PLM=ERP.


The workshop series continues in Atlanta on 24-26 October. Comments are welcome via


PLM is about People
by Scott Cleveland
From a blog by Seth Godin - Sept 12th
If you feel disrespected, the person you disagree with is not going to be a useful partner in figuring out what the right path going forward might be. If one party (employee/ customer/ investor) only wins when the other party loses, what's the point of talking about anything but that?

My Thoughts....
Some years ago, the first PLM Company I worked for came up with the idea of creating pre-programmed solutions for companies. In today's jargon, we could call them preconfigured templates.

I was a sales person at the time, so I was the conduit between the customer and the marketing department. I learned very quickly that each company I spoke with believed that their problems were different [unique] from any other company. Therefore, their solution would be different as well.

Companies like Dell and Compaq [now HP] may have similar problems but the difference becomes clear when you talk to their 'People'.

Any solution you might come up with for a company has to work with their 'People'. So, I learned to listen carefully and take notes.

Empathy is a requirement for a successful PLM implementation. 'People' need to know that they are being listened to, and that their concerns have value. This helps them feel like they are a part of the solution.


Your Thoughts....
What's your opinion? How do you see the value of 'People' in PLM?

Scott Cleveland can be contacted on +1 408-464-6387

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 Product                         Lifecycle                         Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product                         Realisation

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