A nice PLM practice is all about people, process and tools. A PLM software tool is one of the mandatory constituent of an effective PLM practice in a company. Even an organization which has the industry experts in its team and laid out a stringent control process cannot succeed in its PLM practice without an efficient PLM digital tool to support them. Therefore, it is very vital that the organization takes intense care in choosing the right PLM tool that supports their process and device right strategies to successfully implement the tool in the process line.
Choose Right Vendor:
When an organization’s steering committee decides to implement a PLM system into practice, the first question that arise is which PLM software? There are hundreds of PLM software available in the market and choosing the right one is the first major decision to take. All PLM software have common functionalities in place, whereas in few cases these PLM tools are designed specific to a industry specialization. For example, there are specially designed PLM software available for textile industry, food and processing company, discrete manufacturing organization and so on. It is important that the decision-making group, understands the pros and cons of each of this software available and choose the right one that suits their practice.
Involve End Users:
In most cases a PLM implementation fails, when the end users who are the day to day customers of the PLM tool does not feel comfortable with the system. Ideally, it’s not possible to involve all the end users too often. However, it is important the representatives of this end users are part of the decision-making team when a PLM product is chosen for the company.
Long Term Plan:
Like any other enterprise software, a drive from one PLM software to another is a tedious and costly job. It involves both functional and technical hindrances such data migration, UI redesign, end user retraining etc. Therefore, it is important, that when an organization implements a PLM tool the implementation team clearly foresee future changes and business expansions to make sure the chosen PLM product meets all the criteria.
Bring a Team Together:
Any enterprise implementation is already half succeeded when the right team is involved. A successful PLM implementation requires a precise team in place. The team should contain representatives from all management levels including the decision maker from top level management, the process planner from middle level management and representatives from actual design team or end users who will be interacting with the system in day to day job. The team should be able to explain the business scenarios to the software implementation consultant, demands for changes in the tool in areas which does not meet their requirements and most importantly be a brand ambassador of the product within the organization.
Distribute Necessary Budget:
When a decision is taken by a steering committee to implement a PLM software in practice, an appropriate budget is allocated for the execution process. This budget includes costs such as license fees, consultant charges, logistics and accommodation charges, infrastructure costs etc. In addition, it is also important the committee foresee the charges involved in customization of the product if necessary. In an ideal world, the PLM tools are designed by the software vendor trusting general industry practice. However, during the implementation cycle, the team involved may soon realize that a specific process followed within their organization is not directly supported by the tool. It is also a costly and time-consuming job to deviate from their current practice to adapt the functionalities that the product already supports. In these scenarios a customization may be required on the product, which incurs additional charges. In few cases these customizations can be many that it exceeds even the buffer cost planned by the team and requires additional budget to be distributed
Train End Users ASAP:
Modern PLM tools are easy to use with user friendly and self-understood navigation process in place. Additionally, these PLM tools are well documented with published documents available to the users either online or provided by the software vendor. It is important that the end users are made aware well in advance during the implementation cycle, of the various functionalities provided by the system. This ensures that they can map their existing manual process in practice with the automation facilitated by the system. This will also ensure that the gaps in the process are identified early in the implementation cycle and the product is customized appropriately to meet the organizations requirement.
Test, Test & Retest:
Like any project, a PLM implementation process requires lot of testing. Testing should be of all forms and must be carried out by all the team members in their specific areas. For example, a design team must test to ensure that the part and generation of bill of materials works as expected. The change control board, tests the ease of approval process and ensures the product satisfies the compliance laid out by the organization. The top-level management tests they can efficiently monitor all the process within the system, highlight the grey areas and able to track the loopholes. End users test for any implementation bugs, ease of usability and so on.
Plan for Release Date:
A PLM implementation is carried out for many months, and in few large-scale organizations it even takes years to introduce a PLM tool in practice. The company should plan well in advance for the final go-live date. It may be required, that few additional people are allotted to specific departments for first few weeks to ease the transition process. Ensure all the end users are completely aware of the new system and are well trained. Always have a PLAN-B in place such that the daily business is not affected due to unforeseen issues caused by the new system introduced, otherwise it may cause a huge loss to the company.
For a successful PLM software implementation, the organization must take a step by step approach without a rushed approach. PLM implementation is strategic. To ensure maximum benefits from a PLM tool, it is also critical that the end users are well trained to become the experts in the product and PLM is used as the strategic lever, its is envisioned to be.