Why You Need a Flexible PLM System

Why You Need a Flexible PLM System

To start, let’s define some terms. First, what is PLM? Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is an essential tool that helps manufacturing companies manage complex product development processes.

However, traditional PLM systems often fail to meet modern manufacturers' evolving needs. These traditional PLM systems are complex software products. They are usually compiled from several different pieces of software stitched together under one brand name. As a result, legacy PLM solutions:

  • Are not flexible enough for most companies
  • Take too long to implement
  • Become difficult to upgrade over time
  • Cannot adapt to changing business needs

In this blog, I will share four reasons you should think about abandoning the old way of spending resources on a PLM system that likely won’t solve your needs.

1.    Too much customization is needed

Traditional PLM systems require too much customization.

First, highly customized PLM solutions are challenging and time-consuming to deploy. There are no economies of scale, so costs and project timelines are high. It simply takes longer than it should.

2.    Traditional PLM systems are difficult to update and are not future proof

Because traditional PLM systems consist of hard-coded custom integrations and patchwork solutions that are basically hacked together, revising is difficult. Ongoing maintenance will be required to keep the software working; when you fix one thing, another thing usually breaks.

Another disadvantage of hard-coded PLM systems is that they need to be more flexible to change when technology changes. That interaction is set in stone as soon as interactions with the PLM solution are hard-coded inside an organization. To make changes to the system, you need to untangle the existing code and create a new code.

That becomes too expensive and time-consuming.

3.    Inadequate collaboration

Traditional PLM systems often need help to support effective collaboration among stakeholders, such as designers, engineers, and manufacturers. This can lead to silos of information and slow down product development. With today's complex product development processes, it's crucial to have a PLM solution that enables seamless collaboration and real-time information sharing.

4.    Integration with existing systems is poor

The actual business value of PLM is the ability to integrate with existing systems across the enterprise. Examples are the existing ERP, CRM, CAD systems, and others.

Organizations rely on various sorts of systems to support business processes. Some are built internally by the IT department, some are bought from several vendors, and a lot of them are customized beyond belief.

Most of these systems emerged over time. Standards change, and technology evolves. Integration isn't just linking two software platforms; it often means linking two different generations of technology.

Traditional PLM software is uniquely unsuited to change because the business model relies on heavy customization and consultation, so PLM vendors need to be incentivized to make integrations easy for organizations. The end result is a clunky PLM system.

The clunky PLM roadmap

Traditional PLM implementations go like this:

  • PLM consultants meet with users, executives, and technical staff to understand what they want from a PLM product.
  • They learn existing business processes, systems, and the required integrations.
  • They take your “out-of-the-box” system and custom code all connections to systems and data structures.
  • They review existing workflows and build optimized PLM answers to make those workflows easier.

But where are the 20-man sales consulting teams when your organization needs new workflows because your business has evolved and your needs have changed?

Suddenly, these workflows are effectively set in stone.

They are difficult to change and persist long after without relevant optimization changes. Inevitably, workflows end up being abandoned for shortcuts.

Suddenly, we’re back to where we started with time-consuming, manual, error-prone, and inefficient processes.

Why you need a flexible PLM system

A flexible PLM system offers a smoother implementation experience.

  • Because the product must work right out of the box, integration with various business systems must operate immediately.
  • Legacy data integration must work right away.
  • The product is easy to update (since it is standardized) and easy to replace.
  • Project scope is clearly defined from the start.
  • The customer can start with a basic PLM system, then add in additional plugins and integrations over time to better leverage their data.
  • Changes can be made without totally rebuilding the product.

In conclusion

Implementing a new PLM system is a challenging task – it is complicated and takes a clear understanding of objectives and requirements, and it needs to be an acquisition that can stand up over time.

But, the problem is that traditional PLM implementations fail often.

Over-customization, poor integration, under appreciated data migration, and less than optimal usability contribute to their failure.

So, why not make your implementation life easier? Why not invest in a sustainable solution that works the first time?

A flexible PLM software lowers the bar of entry by reducing implementation costs, reducing customization requirements, and actively combatting problems like scope creep and integration challenges that plague traditional implementations.