How to Choose PLM Technology

So your company has embarked on the PLM journey. Strategy is agreed, budget is approved, the preliminary plan for execution is in place and Return on Investment has been computed.

The next step in the process is choosing a software suite and an associated vendor. Unfortunately, the nature of software is such that one cannot mix and match programs or modules to suit specific requirements; the major vendors design their solutions is such a way that organizations are locked into a specific monolithic offering. The choice of vendor then has long term ramifications and, on the face of it appears to be a momentous decision.

So, how does one choose a PLM technology vendor? For the purposes of answering, let us submit two potential techniques:

  1. Undertake a comprehensive study to evaluate the merits of each vendors solution against requirements, conduct benchmarks and produce recommendations (The bake off)
  2. Meet in the main boardroom of the company, ensure attendance of auditors and all interested parties and toss a coin to decide which vendor to choose (The coin toss)

Before debating the merits and demerits of each technique, it is instructive to outline a methodology for the bake off option. The high level steps required to conduct a study are as follows:

  1. Outline business imperatives and goals (e.g. global engineering)
  2. Identify the PLM processes that have to be put in place or facilitated to meet these goals (e.g. extended design reviews)
  3. Create use cases to illustrate the processes (e.g. ability to load complete product into webex session and have geographically dispersed teams critique)
  4. Evaluate each technology against the use case and score its capability to support the use case (e.g. how long does it take to load a product into a review session)
  5. Total up all the scores and make a recommendation.

Clearly the bake off would be the conventional business approach. It offers the advantages of rigor, objectivity and a comprehensive approach. By following the evaluation methodology, an organization is guaranteed of having a technology that supports its needs.

So why even consider the coin toss? Any business person worth his salt would recoil at the thought of employing such a sloppy and unscientific method. But before dismissing this out of hand, consider a few items. Firstly, technology changes at an alarming pace and what is good today in one vendors solution will be outpaced by next year’s release. Secondly, the tough part of PLM implementations is managing organizational change and this has nothing to do with technology. Thirdly, agonizing over decisions is probably worse than making a snap decision – fortune favors the bold.

So consider the coin toss or a at least a compressed bake off; it can certainly save time and maybe allow an organization to leap ahead of its competition.

Need help making your plan? Our PLM Analytics Benchmark process will give you the tools you need for your bake-off. Click here to request a session.

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