Hey PLM Sponsors, Have You Had The “Talk” Yet?

If you are a PLM sponsor who’s been living in your post PLM implementation world for at least a year or two, you know where I’m headed. The “talk” is the one between you and the IT guys. In short, “how did we get stuck here?!?”

For the purposes of this blog, I am not referring to the PLM projects that literally never get implemented, but the “talk” that takes place a year or two after the implementation when the PLM sponsors are trying to understand their new reality. Why doesn’t their PLM system look like the pretty pictures from the brochures or the high-tech demos they saw before they signed on the dotted line? The current state doesn’t vaguely resemble the picture the executive sponsors and the PLM software executives painted during the leisurely dinners and golf rounds of a few summers ago - ahh, the memories.

The uncomfortable “talk” usually hits a variety of topics like:

  • The software was supposed to be so flexible. Why will it take another (fill in the blank) months to implement our specific business logic? You want us to live with the “workarounds” for HOW LONG!?!

  • It’s been two years and the latest version of the software is supposed to support (fill in the blank), so when are we going to upgrade?

  • You need HOW much money for the upgrade?!?!?! Why are we paying these yearly maintenance fees if we need to put THAT much money into an upgrade (voice level rising)?

  • Wait! The time and effort involved in the upgrade is because you have customized the application to meet our specific requirements? I thought the platform was configurable?!?!?

  • We just spent (fill in the blank - you know the drill - think of a BIG number) and (fill in the blank again) months completing the upgrade, but the new features won’t work because of our customizations??? What happened to the flexibility the software was supposed to support?

  • Why do we have to buy new licenses for new offerings? We paid (fill in the blank - it’s a REALLY BIG number) for licenses and more for yearly support. You mean the software we really need for our vision wasn’t included?

No one likes having the “talk,” but in the PLM space, it’s almost inevitable. While almost every PLM project starts off with the mantra “Out of the Box” among the sponsors, it quickly devolves into “But I need it to do it my way” - usually within in a matter of hours of the ink drying on the contracts. So, why does this conversation repeatedly happen, regardless of industry or software?

The answer sits in the dark part of the room where good people hesitate to go during the party. People love to have drinks over their vision of the digital twin or the cool simulation management with all the animations and software interactivity. This is a happy place where software simulations look perfect and data is always pristine. But if you venture off too far, you might find yourself in the corner of the room known as the “buzzkill.” This is the place where conversations turn to the technical challenges of making all the pieces work together among the moving targets of continual business and technology changes. Let’s just go back to the bar and have a drink over some sleek visual collaboration.

The reality is that most PLM software companies are using the same outdated architectures today that they built their applications on ten, or even twenty, years ago. In addition, they have further muddied the platform by introducing newly acquired products, while interfacing different functionalities and different technologies to make them work together as quickly as possible - kind of like installing a jet engine into a moped - what could possibly go wrong with that approach? Understandably, PLM companies are focused on selling their next set of licenses, so they concentrate their efforts on providing new functionality. Unfortunately, not enough investment is being made in the underlying engine that runs the framework.

So, what’s a poor PLM Sponsor to do? Well, they must be sure their PLM platforms are built using open, contemporary strategies that prevent the application from hitting the technology wall - leaving them vulnerable to having the “talk.” The platform strategies must establish a highly configurable framework, allowing developers to model their specific organization without writing code to support business processes, rules, security, and even the front end of the application. The modeling engine must create a flexible environment supporting agile development, minimizing development time and ensuring data quality. In turn, the approach must provide the ability for regular system upgrades in a fraction of the time, cost, and disruption of a traditional framework.

Another key to avoiding the “talk” is having a platform that ensures the data layer is always consistent with the application. When an application is developed separately from the data model, data issues happen - a lot. Traditional platforms often treat these layers separately and create data inconsistency across functionalities. This is evident when functionality is introduced from software developed outside the core application and its data is merged into the single, core data model. All too often data issues are expected to be corrected later leaving the application with painful technical debt. A contemporary platform must support agile application developments aligning the single data model at the time of the development. This approach leaves little room for data conflicts between functionality.

Now, do you see what just happened here? We had a buzzkill conversation in the dark side of the room and you didn’t even know it!

All too often decisions on which PLM application to purchase are based on high-tech demos of “cool things coming soon” or worse, dinner, drinks, and golf. To ensure that the system technology can meet the future challenges, more conversations need to be held in the dark corner of the room about the platform and not around pretty pictures and promises for the future. (For another funny but true story, check out Mark Reisig’s blog: “Don’t be a Dinosaur.”)

The Aras platform is the solution to the dreaded “talk.” Using the Aras platform, you subscribe to a contemporary approach for your product development functionality.

  • The sophisticated modeling engine allows subscribers to define their business logic, processes, workflows, data structures, front end processes, and any other objects through Aras Innovator, usually with limited or no coding.

  • The platform ensures the alignment of the business functionality and the underlining data model in real time and...

  • Guarantees regular upgrades as part of the subscription.

  • The platform is built for agile development. With the modeling engine reducing coding efforts, and the ability for incremental deployments, the Aras platform is a natural component for moving fast at the speed of business.

  • The platform Includes all of Aras’ applications and platform services as part of the subscription. No license renegotiations for existing functionality or new licensing cost for new applications. No surprises.

Welcome to the light! No more dark corners, no more unanswered questions and most of all, no need to have the “talk.”

Anonymous