In Choosing the Right PLM Solution for Your Business – Part 1, I shared how you can prepare your business for the challenging experience of selecting new PLM software. In today’s blog, I will share how you can work with the various PLM vendors to select a new PLM solution that is harmonious, efficient, and relatively quick.
If you followed all of the suggestions in my blog, part 1, you should be ready to look at the next steps in your PLM selection odyssey. Having already developed an As-Is and a To-Be model for your business, you can start to plan a strategy to plug the biggest gaps with a new PLM solution.
The strategic direction for your business will give you a good idea of what capabilities are the most important for your future PLM solution. For example, if your business plans to expand or grow, it must be supported by a flexible solution that can be modified to support your business. Remember that the business requirements identified during part 1 will likely not be fully supported with an out-of-the-box solution. Do not be pressured into compromising on something the vendor calls “best practice.” If the solution does not support your business, it does not matter who thinks it is a best practice – it will not work for you.
Do you need to run all your applications in the cloud to follow a corporate edict or to provide compatibility with other cloud-based solutions? You may need a cloud solution that is fully SaaS compliant to support greater collaboration. If so, then you want a PLM provider that has a cloud solution capable of providing the benefits of a true SaaS offering.
If your goal is to select an on-premise offering from a PLM vendor and later move to a PLM SaaS solution, it would not be wise to choose a PLM vendor whose on-premise PLM solution is very different from their SaaS PLM solution. This should be part of the decision-making in your selection process.
Do you have complex problems that your current PLM solution cannot solve? If so, you want a PLM product with flexible software and strong capabilities to solve complex PLM challenges. It would also be preferable if you were not locked into a legacy application that prevented upgrades and other changes to future software.
Here are a few suggestions to make this process go smoothly:
Suggestion 1 – Gather a list of the PLM solution providers with the best tools in your industry that you think will support your business in the future.
- Choose no more than 5 vendors and not less than 3 for this activity. You may even want to down-select from the initial list based on some “show-stopper” criteria that can identify your final 3 vendors (if you have too many, it will be a real circus).
Suggestion 2 – Create a Request for Proposal (RFP) that includes all items you need in your PLM software and share this with the PLM vendors.
- There are many templates for RFPs available online. Find one you like and fill it in with the areas you want your PLM solution provider to support. Since you have already spent much time on the As-Is model and the strategic information for your PLM goals from part 1, it should not be hard to pull this together. Remember, these are your requirements for your business – the PLM vendor must support your business, not the other way around.
Suggestion 3 – Get answers from the PLM vendors on how they would support all of the items in your RFP and see which vendor appears to provide the most comprehensive solution.
- Creating a scoring system will help you determine how the responses are ranked between each vendor. A scoring system removes the bias that exists within your company about certain PLM vendors. Once the RFPs are scored, you can see who has the highest score.
Suggestion 4 – Invite the final three vendors to demonstrate (in person) exactly how they would solve your problems on-site so you can watch their every move.
Provide a demo script they can follow to prepare for this event and allow some of your users to participate, so they feel involved in the selection. Score this with the numbering system you came up with earlier to determine who has the better PLM solution to support your business.
Suggestion 5 – If it is still hard to select a PLM vendor after these activities, you can do other things.
Schedule a site visit to a current customer or do a 30-day trial with the PLM solution software you favor, and maybe revisit the key items in the RFP.
At the end of the day, you should be able to select a vendor you can work with for the long term. Remember, you are not just purchasing software, you are starting a relationship with a vendor who will have a major impact on your business for many years. You can expect to receive better treatment from the PLM vendor during the decision-making process.
As you look at this list of activities, you might think, “this sounds like a lot of work!” You are right. Selecting a PLM solution is not an easy task, and it is not something you can do without much thought and effort. Believe me when I tell you that choosing the wrong PLM solution will result in much more work and difficulty in the long run.
Follow my suggestions; you will be glad you did! If you're interested in learning more about Aras, please visit our website or reach out to our author by leaving a comment or question on this blog.