As discussed in my previous article, an efficient PLM practice requires a robust PLM digital system to support it. There are various challenges faced by an organization when a new PLM software tool is introduced in the chain. It includes problems of both functional and technical type. Functionally, the people associated with the system can find difficult to adapt to new system as not all practice followed by the company is directly supported in the tool. The support staffs need to change their manual way of working according to the restriction imposed by the tool. Technically the challenges are even more, the system itself may suffer from limited customization features, low performance response, the system may crash often and results in users complaining on the capability of the system.
After the initial startup period, the challenges continue furthermore. More expenses might be incurred by the company in terms of customization, upgrades etc. As the users continue to use the system, they may realize that the system’s functionality was oversold. For instance, user may find that not all document formats that they currently have in practice, may be supported by the system. System administration may be too complicated and time-consuming. There is no ready-made documentation provided to the users on the key functionalities. With little online resources available, the software vendor may not be able to provide well-trained and subject matter experts to train the end users. Barriers continue to arise in different forms during the implementation phase of a PLM software.
One major challenge I have seen while implementing a PLM product is the employees within the organization itself. People operating in all levels of the company must work together for a successfully bringing in a PLM system into practice. However, this does not happen in most of the cases. The top-level management may impose challenges due to their lack of commitment, leadership, support and patience. This is mostly because the top management are likely to coordinate on many other things other than the PLM system itself. Problems within the middle-level management may arise due to personal goal conflicts and fear of loss of power. The end users might feel a PLM system might result in job losses due to automation and other factors.
These challenges can be easily overcome by bringing in the team together and educate them fully on the reasons and benefits of introducing the PLM software in practice.