|Product Lifecycle Management software coverage including Aras, Autodesk PLM 360, ENOVIA, Oracle Agile, SAP PLM, Teamcenter and Windchill.|
| PLM is Dead, Long Live PLM
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For much of the past year I've been thinking about how new features are impacting PLM as we know it. Most prior successful PLM installations have been based primarily on a single brand of software that manages the collective functions for PDM, BOM, change management, some project management tasks, access control and increasingly feedback loops from CAM and CAE.
Where organizations were able to take advantage of these many integrated functions, and also able to match their process to the PLM systems process organizations have seen wildly successful ROI.
But many organizations have struggled and continue to struggle with large installations that never quite fit their process or require an overhead that engineering teams struggle to maintain. Further much of the promise of PLM in terms of actually managing the lifecycle of a product have gone unrealized.
Enter 2016 and a host of new PLM opportunities. Cloud, new software integration tools, SaaS, and what I call the dis-integration of PLM are all playing a role.
PLM in the cloud
In the past year a number of commercial offerings for cloud-based PLM systems have matured significantly. Autodesk PLM 360, Arena Solutions tools, and others are making real Cloud PLM possible.
Cloud alleviates a number of headaches and management hazards associated with older style PLM environments. Of course it also brings distributed data and security issues to bear, but for the most part making the systems available in the cloud frees up a huge amount of engineering IT bandwidth to make things work more smoothly.
Another important change in the PLM world is paying for what you need right now as opposed to the overhead for functionality that you may not need or may never need. Users being able to sign up to access projects or functionality when they need it is critical to the unbundling of older kid PLM environments with requirements for nimble teams.
New software integration tools
We are seeing an explosion of updated programming techniques inside of new PLM offerings. If you've ever had to struggle with data translation, PLM migration, or integration of something like a PLM environment with an ERP environment, you are in for some pleasant surprises when you look at what is currently available.
Take a look at the Jitterbit integration between Autodesk PLM 360 and Netsuite ERP for example. Or take a look at what is SAP is doing with its integration tools. Finally you might want to take a look at PropelPLM that is built entirely on a CRM platform for streamlining the integration of customer or departmental or project team identities directly with PLM functionality.
Dis - integration of PLM
Not-so-News flash for PLM aficionados: you may not need to do all of what you're looking to do under a single PLM environment.
We are seeing an increasing number of task-oriented new tools that streamline task functionality. Most of them are written in up to date code so they can be integrated or interact with other PLM functionality from other task-oriented systems.
True, many of these tools may not satisfy the oversight needs for large integrated projects standardized in larger organizations. From a team perspective or small organization perspective these are all you may need to get started with certain PLM efforts to manage engineering data projects.
Take for example the newly-released OpenBoM. For a few bucks a month individual engineers can have access to highly integrated BOM functionality that also reaches into the supply chain. This always on, always up-to-date, always integrated tool is a radically new, Google Sheets-type way of structuring BOM activities without the overhead of other parts of a PLM environment.
In addition we are seeing folks use the likes of Autodesk PLM 360 simply as a project management tool for scheduling as opposed to integrating all other PLM functionalities.
So is PLM Dead?
Probably not. But lumbering older highly integrated PLM environments are under pressure to be more responsive to teams that have need for more nimble functionality with a better price and support entry point. Instant-on anyone?
So old style PLM vendors and installations will have to either adapt with some of this new functionality, or they may find themselves dinosaurs.
And at the same time these newer, dis-integrated PLM tools will ultimately not be successful for their users until they build linkages to other parts of the traditional PLM information exchange.
Dan Raker has been observing and publishing about PLM for over 35 years.
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