Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to Claim the Benefits of PLM

If you asked 10 people in your company to give you a definition of PLM, you would likely get 10 different answers. That's because people have very different experiences with PLM, or maybe a lack of experience with PLM. To claim the benefits of PLM there are some steps you must follow. This post will not try to mention every single step that you must follow, that would take way too long and I want to eat lunch. But, this list represents some of the key activities that you must follow in order to claim the full benefits of PLM for your business:

Education

The first step in any PLM activity is to education everyone. By that I mean the executives, the PLM team participants, and others that will be supporting your PLM initiative. Once people are education, and they understand the comprehensive nature of PLM, they will be more likely to support your efforts. A good PLM definition to start with is:
  • PLM is the collaborative creation, use, management & dissemination of product related intellectual assets.
Some key aspects of PLM include the following:
  • PLM is a strategic business approach, not just a collection of technologies.
  • PLM supports the extended enterprise.
  • PLM spans the full product life-cycle, from concept to end of life.
Once you have educated people about PLM, you will be able to have important discussions about your business on a level playing field. When everyone is on the same page regarding PLM, you will find that making progress is much easier. To claim the benefits of PLM for your business, you must educate your people.

Information Management

Managing the information within your business is one of the core features of PLM. Without managing your information (intellectual assets), you won't be able to have the confidence to make decisions. This leads to delays, mistakes, redundant reviews, unnecessary signatures, and an overall inefficient business process. Until you can manage your information effectively, and guarantee that all information is valid, complete, and available, you will struggle to claim the benefits of PLM for your business.

PLM is Strategic

Understanding the strategic nature of PLM will lead you to seek out more understanding about your strategic business objectives. Once you understand the strategic direction of your business, you can craft a PLM vision that supports your business. This leads to a long list of business requirements. This, along with other requirements will drive the selection and implementation of PLM in your business.

In order to claim the benefits of PLM you must consider three important factors:
  • People - How will people be encouraged and supported through the changes that PLM will bring.
  • Processes - What new processes are needed to support the implementation of PLM.
  • Technology - What is the proper technology to support strategic business objectives and the PLM vision.
You cannot consider just one of these three in isolation if you want to get the most out of PLM. All three will have a major impact on the success of PLM at your company. Our experience shows us that most of the failed PLM implementation we have seen are not a result of bad technology, but more often a result of process or people issues.

Measure PLM Benefits

It is important to convince your executives, and your users that PLM has benefits. That also means that you need a way to measure and illustrate the degree and timing of PLM benefits. We recommend using a spreadsheet model that allows you to calculate cost vs. benefits and then show a valid ROI for PLM. Once you have charts and graphs of how PLM will impact you business, it becomes much easier to convince others about the value of PLM.

We recommend an early benefits appraisal analysis for feasibility to show the potential benefits of PLM. Do this early and use this to sell PLM to the organization. Then, you can gauge additional benefits as your PLM program progresses to determine the real ROI. This repeatable methodology also allows you to do this benefits analysis as often as needed. To claim the benefits of PLM for your business you will need to sell these benefits to many organizations using a repeatable appraisal methodology.

Conclusions

Making PLM successful requires education, managing your information, strategic planning, and measuring benefits. There are many other activities and plans you will need to be successful with PLM, but if you start with these key items, you will be well on your way to claiming the benefits of PLM for your business.

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