How to Choose the Right PLM Solution for Your Business – Part 1

How to Choose the Right PLM Solution for Your Business – Part 1

Switching your business to a new Product Lifecycle Management solution is a daunting task. The PLM landscape is littered with the dry bones of failed PLM solution migrations, rollouts, and selection activities. Some experts claim a failure rate as high as 50% for PLM selection activities. However, in today’s fast-paced business world, companies cannot afford to run on outdated, non-integrated, and siloed tools. Putting off this challenging task will only make it harder when you decide to bite the bullet and search for a new alternative.

Eventually, every business will be forced to select a new advanced PLM solution. Maybe the current solution is no longer supported by the vendor and is at the end of its life. Or maybe the PLM solution cannot support the changes in your business, like moving to the cloud, infiltrating the metaverse, or moving forward with customizations needed to support improved processes and solutions.

These challenges may move you to search for a new PLM solution. Since most companies do not do this often, they are usually ill-equipped to select the best PLM tool for their changing business. I have several suggestions that you can follow to make this process less painful (and more rewarding) than usual.

Suggestion #1Develop a good “as-is” and the desired “to-be” view of your business.

  • Do you really know what’s going on in your business?
  • Are the formal processes that define your business followed by PLM solution users?
  • Are there manual processes that continue to be used to get around slower formal data collection activities?

It is amazing what you can find when you start digging and asking questions. Until you know what is really happening in your business – no PLM solution will fix your challenges. Developing a strong to-be view will allow you to tell PLM vendors what you want instead of asking what they offer.

Suggestion #2 – Understand what capabilities your business requires.

  • Are you primarily a company that does innovative design and engineering with a focus on new products?
  • Is your business engineering-centric, or is your business manufacturing-centric?
  • Or are you a nice balance of both?

A good PLM solution will support what you are doing today and provide a strong platform for future innovation. Either of these scenarios can provide a guide to the type of PLM solution that you will need and which capabilities require priority treatment.

Suggestion #3 – Determine a strategy for PLM deployment. It does not make sense to do it all at once.

  • Determine what you will work on first, second, and in what order capabilities will be rolled out.
  • Are you staying on-premise or moving to the cloud? This determines how you will roll out your PLM.

The strategic direction for PLM should match the strategic activities of the rest of the company. If there is an ERP or CAD migration or another major transition at your company, you won’t want to do it all at once without major collaboration.

Suggestion #4 – Start your cultural change management plan now!

Without a change management plan, you will likely fail if and when your users express frustration with the PLM solution as delivered. Start early to involve your PLM users to get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t. The earlier you get your users involved, the more likely you are to be set up for success.

What’s next?

Notice that all of these suggestions relate to activities that happen BEFORE you look at a PLM solution. That’s because if your business does not have a well-thought-out strategy, you will not be successful. One of the worst things you can do is ask your PLM vendor what you should do for your business. PLM vendors understand what their solution can do, but only you can determine what is best for your business.

Now that you have an as-is and to-be view of your business and know how the PLM solution will be strategically rolled out to the company, you are ready to start looking at solutions. There should be a PLM team of experts and users that will provide the direction for the selection process. This team should be supported by an executive that can remove roadblocks and give this team the mandate to make PLM decisions as needed.

Committing to a PLM selection activity is a big job that can only be done by those committed to doing it properly. It is impossible to cover all the aspects of the PLM selection activity, but in my next blog, I will cover part two of selecting the proper PLM solution for your business.

Look out for part two in this blog series:  “How to Choose the Right PLM Solution – Part 2”

Part two will cover how a company should interact with a PLM vendor. Some of the most painful activities of the PLM selection process can be dealing with multiple vendors and trying to understand what they say about the best PLM solution for your business. If you have done your homework and prepared properly, this part of the experience will be less painful. Notice I didn’t say NOT painful, but only LESS painful.

I look forward to writing more on this topic soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to consider taking a new survey by CIMdata on currently available PLM solutions. The information they plan to gather will help users like you better understand the strengths and weaknesses of PLM solutions and providers, as well as emerging needs and challenges within the market.