Pursuing the Promise of PLM – Part 1

PLM is a business initiative … not a tactical project

By Martin van der Roest

Personally, one of my go-to content sources is TED talks.  In particular, I have enjoyed Simon Sinek.  He’s an author best known for popularizing the concept of "the golden circle" and to "Start with Why.”  In one of his talks, Sinek encourages us to understand “why” we pursue an idea, and then dig into the “how” and “what” later.  By doing so, the result is a vision and energy that transcends the morass of tactical details.  A prime example … Steve Jobs is the iconic “why guy.”

I recently participated in a meeting with a company that underscores the importance of being powered by “why.”  The COO hosted it.  He had his sales, planning, engineering, and delivery/services staff participate to better understand the potential value of PLM.

Throughout our discussions, the team used such phrases as “we need to be more competitive,” “we’re too inefficient,” “scrap and rework are too high,” and so on.  This was not a meeting concerned with how to automate the transfer of the released bill to ERP or any other transactional tactic.  No, this was a meeting where the team was pursuing the “why.”  Bravo to the COO.

Just as the different departments were represented at this meeting, PLM inherently crosses departmental boundaries.  The data and processes are not isolated to a handful of folks in engineering or quality control.  Without a company-wide “why” approach, we reinforce islands of automation, processes and behaviors.

For example, how many CAD vaults are stood up for the benefit of CAD users, without regard to others in the organization?  The engineering manager needs to solve immediate issues.  Every well-intended department leader tackles their own issues.  This situation is completely understandable, but not in support of a broader initiative, i.e., PLM.  My goodness, it’s hard enough to change out an ERP solution.

Certainly, ERP has its place.  But, I contend that PLM is where a company is going to drive innovation, competitiveness, increased revenues and reduced cost of goods.  There is no other solution in a company that does this!  ERP is a vital transactional platform.  A PLM strategy driven by visionary “whys” is the magic wand in the right leader’s hand.

So, if you are management, and there is no PLM strategy, 2016 may be an advantageous time to start.

This series will look at the “whys” and the resulting value they create.  We’ll drill into the various challenges that come with the ugly reality of disparate databases and applications, isolated processes and outline strategies and action steps to help companies pursue the promise of PLM.