Elements of a Successful PLM Project – 3) Develop a Long-Term PLM Strategy

People don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan. Not having a PLM strategy may not lead to failure of a PLM project, but it will very likely result in a less than optimal solution characterized by multiple separated point systems, disconnected processes, missed benefits and higher costs than necessary. Why?

Without a unifying PLM strategy in place different business functions tend to pursue their own goals and objectives and find solutions that address their specific needs. Quality will look for a quality management system, procurement will implement a supply chain management system, regulatory affairs will use its own compliance management tool, manufacturing engineering will seek its own manufacturing process management system, and so on. The probability is high in such an environment that the different systems don’t talk with each other, the data is stored in many separate silos, the processes are largely disparate and the company loses out on minimizing time-to-market, increasing productivity and reducing costs. Research shows that companies without a PLM strategy spend on average 30 – 50% more on buying, integrating and operating systems that manage data and processes related to innovation and new product development (NPD) than companies that have developed and execute a comprehensive PLM strategy.

The purpose and objective of a PLM strategy is to provide a standardized doctrine and clear direction for the entire organization when it comes to making improvements and investments in processes and technologies related to innovation and new product development.

For this a PLM strategy has to define which business processes can and should be integrated and automated with PLM, what information should be managed in the PLM system and which existing systems should be integrated or replaced with the PLM system. Given the broad scope of PLM today, a PLM strategy then also has to define phases in which the different processes and PLM functionalities will be implemented and deployed based on their priorities and the value they provide to the organization.

Having a PLM strategy ensures that all needs of an organization related to innovation and NPD are being considered already during the evaluation and a system is being selected and subsequently implemented that can meet the requirements of all functional areas. Developing a comprehensive PLM strategy should therefore always precede the evaluation and selection of an enterprise-wide PLM system. But even if a company already has implemented PLM in parts of the organization it is not too late; developing a PLM strategy is also crucially important and very helpful when attempting to expand the system from engineering into other areas.