PLM as a Platform?
If you are in the business of designing and engineering product, then you have PLM. This is a statement of fact. The question then becomes: what is the technology underpinning the PLM process that is used to control your designs?
Because of the way that technology changes and matures, most organizations have a collection of software and processes that support their PLM processes. This can be called the Point Solution approach. Consider a hypothetical setup below:
The advantage of this approach is that point solutions can be individually optimized for a given process – so, in the example above, the change management system can be set up to exactly mirror the internal engineering change process.
However, this landscape also has numerous disadvantages:
- Data often has to be transferred between different solutions (e.. what is the precise CAD model tied to a specific engineering change?). These integrations are difficult to set up and maintain – sometimes to the point of being manual tasks.
- The organization has to deal with multiple vendors.
- Multiple PLM systems working together require significant internal support resource from an IT department.
- Training and onboarding of new staff is complicated
The alternative to this approach is a PLM Platform. Here, one technology solution includes all necessary PLM functionalities. The scenario is illustrated below:
It is clear that the PLM Platform does away with many of the disadvantages of the Point Solution; there is only one vendor to deal with, integrations are seamless, training is simplified, and support should be easier.
However, the PLM Platform may not provide the best solution for a given function when compared to the corresponding point solution. For example, a dedicated project management software may do a better job at Program Management than the functionality in the PLM Platform; this may require organizational compromise. You are also, to some extent, betting on a single technology vendor and hoping that they remain an industry leader.
Some of the major PLM solution vendors have placed such bets on the platform strategy. For example, Siemens PLM have positioned Teamcenter as a complete platform solution covering all aspects of the PLM process. (refer to my earlier blog post What is Teamcenter? or, Teamcenter Explained). All of the PLM processes that organizations need can be supported by Teamcenter.
Dassault Systèmes have pursued a similar approach with the launch of their 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which also contains all of the functions required for PLM. In addition, both are actively integrating additional functionality with every new release.
So what is your strategy – Point or Platform? This question deserves serious consideration when considering PLM processes in your organization.