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How to Demystify PLM

8 'Must Know' Items

Many people in the organisation outside the immediate reach of the PLM Team may be confused about PLM.

Large corporations may have different trading divisions, many global locations and many thousands of employees.  It requires a constant effort from the PLM Team to keep everyone educated and informed.

To demystify PLM, there are 8 "Must Know" things that a good PLM Team should provide:-

  Written Overview of the 'As-Is' Situation
  Top-Level PLM Objectives
  PLM 5-Year Vision
  Map of the fully-mature PLM environment
  Visible Management Structure that connects
the Board with the PLM Team
  Summary of the current Technical Challenges
  Summary of the current Management Challenges
  Enterprise-wide Training Programme for PLM

All of these should, in theory, be part of every well-managed PLM implementation. However, in most implementations some of them will be neglected.

You can review and cross-check these 8 categories against your own PLM environment.


Level of Detail

There is no need to write any complex documents, or to publicise the confidential details of the company's PLM planning.

Your non-PLM colleagues, who just want to know what the PLM implementation is doing, would like to have a straightforward, overview-level summary of each topic in order to give them a clear understanding of the whole picture.

The PLM Team simply needs to summarise each of the items into a written format, and present them in a structured way.  This can be done in-house; with the help of external advisors; or by following the guidance below.


'Overview of the 'As-Is' Situation

All PLM implementations, whether new or mature, should keep an up-to-date written record of the 'As-Is' situation.  This is useful for review and discussion purposes, and necessary as a baseline for measurement of future improvement.  It also, quite literally, helps to ensure that everyone is "working off the same page".

Therefore the PLMIG devised an empty, pro-forma Company PLM Overview document that the PLM Team can use to ensure that the full scope of the 'As-Is' environment has been covered.

See the Company PLM Overview subject headings >>>


Top-Level PLM Objectives

There is no need to declare all of the objectives that have been set for the PLM Team, but it should be possible to set out some general, high-level aims and targets that the PLM implementation is aiming to achieve.

This shows to the world that the PLM Team knows where it is going, and sets out some of the improvements that will happen if the implementation is successful.  This, in turn, gives everyone else in the company some reasons to add their feedback and support.


PLM 5-Year Vision

The PLM 5-Year Vision describes the future situation that will exist when the Top-Level Objectives have been achieved.  This reinforces the impression that PLM is acting for the good of the business.


Map of the Fully-Mature Environment

To complete the picture of the future, 'To-Be' PLM situation, there should be a diagrammatic explanation, or 'map', of what the intended PLM platform will look like from an IT perspective.  This may seem slightly technical for an awareness tool, but it helps everybody to understand the migration path and also allows for a visible reality check to see whether the future architecture is sensible and achievable.


Visible Management Structure

It is very helpful for people to be able to see how PLM is managed within the organisation, from the Board down to operational level.  It helps them to understand who is involved; how their own activities are likely to interact with PLM; and who to contact to find information or to get some action.

The PLMIG PLM Governance Standard is an effective way of establishing whether a satisfactory management structure exists for PLM.


Summary of Technical Challenges

This will be a simple narrative, or high-level story, that explains in basic terms the main technical challenges that the PLM Team is trying to overcome.  This can be very useful if the apparent PLM progress is slower than everybody thinks it should be.  The Summary makes visible the "hidden work" that is always involved with PLM development.


Summary of Management Challenges

This is also a simple narrative, or high-level story, and one which should be written with tact and discretion.  Nevertheless, it is still a necessary part of the overall awareness material.  The Summary of Management Challenges, if phrased correctly, allows early and informed discussion of some of the important management issues that PLM is trying to address.


Enterprise-Wide Training Programme

This is perhaps the most obvious component of all, and yet it is often neglected because of the time and effort required to implement it.

It should be clear that, to demystify PLM for everyone within the company, everyone should receive appropriate training.  There must therefore be a structured programme that delivers the required level of training to:-

  • Board Members
  • VPs and Directors
  • PLM Team Members
  • Direct PLM Users
  • Indirect PLM Users
  • Non-PLM Staff
  • Customers
  • Suppliers

This should not just be a list of names and course headings, but should be a complete plan showing the skills, technical content, and the timescales to completion.

The aim is to reach a situation in which the vast majority of people have received the training and education they need; and where there is a dynamic equilibrium of training updates and induction of new arrivals.

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