Choosing the Right PLM Software

  • August 30, 2016
  • Feature

By Bob Hillier, Managing Director, Design Rule

2015 was a momentous year for technology, with Apple making the leap into wearable technology by launching the Apple Watch in April and the launch of Tesla's semi-autonomous autopilot system in October, bringing us one step closer to self-driving cars. Now half way through 2016, it's likely that your business is looking to replicate 2015's successes and eradicate the chance of failure. If this is the case, then product lifecycle management (PLM) software might be the tool you need.

Compatibility with existing systems

When engaging a PLM provider, one of the key things to consider is whether they will carry out compatibility tests upon implementation. For example, for engineering and design companies, it's important to ensure new software works well with the computer-aided design (CAD) tools already installed and integrate to other business systems, like ERP

Many companies today use an internal portal to manage document sharing and work management. However, these sharing points should not be used to manage product lifecycle and related documentation because of limited security.

Ideally, a PLM vendor should not only provide the software, it should also implement it. This way, if any problems occur during set-up, you have only one supplier to kick.

Current non-value added activity

From our experience, many companies decide to implement PLM because their existing processes are taking too long and errors happen on a regular basis. Both issues cause excessive non-value added activity (NVA) and increase the amount of time it takes the company to deliver a product or service.

Our experience tells us that two of the main reasons errors occur include working with incorrect data and lacking digital continuity across existing systems and procedures. More worryingly, employees sometimes misleadingly inform current systems that tasks have been completed only to keep the process moving to the next stage.

Inefficient approval processes are another major cause of NVA. You may think that in our digital world industry has done away with paper-based approval systems. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many companies still use a paper-based system that can be misplaced or sits on someone’s desk when away on holiday. Hardcopy approvals can only be a serial process, which significantly delay the approval or change management process.

A PLM system allows every user to see the exact status of a product or service at a glance, and parallel approvals can be used to speed up the process. Dashboards are available for managers to see the status of all activities effecting product release schedules, and identify bottlenecks. Global locations

If your company has multiple UK or global sites and key suppliers that are part of your value chain, it's important to use a web-based PLM system with a strong security model. Web based access is to ensure all users in the value chain have simple common access to required data without additional software being installed on their PC or tablet. The additional security is critical is securing controlled user access to data that is either ‘Intellectual Property, Commercially Confidential, subject to Export Control, or is Militarily Restricted, etc. 

For these global companies, the PLM solution Design Rule recommends is Dassault Systemes 3DEXPERIENCE platform to ensure secure global deployment of documents and data with encrypted data transmission, independent of location.

Support during and after implementation

For companies that deploy PLM software, the implementation can be more critical than the software itself.

When looking for a PLM supplier, choose a company that is willing to give you and your staff the time and attention to fully convert your requirements into a functioning PLM solution.  While every company aspires to an out-of-the-box (OOTB) deployment, every company has its own way of doing things - so time is required to find the right balance.

Every business wants to improve year on year, but not all have the tools in place to do this. If you are looking to make positive changes this year, Design Rule can offer all the assistance you need.  

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