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I received a lot of positive feedback about my recent post “PLM – An Enterprise System Without Purpose?”, with most people confirming that their companies in fact are not using PLM to support their business strategy, but rather tactically to manage engineering data and processes. Just one responder gave an excellent example of how a company he worked with is using PLM to enable strategic, business critical MRO (maintenance and repair operations) processes and activities.

This feedback as well as my own experience working with numerous clients seems to confirm that most companies that use PLM today are not getting the value from PLM they could and are leaving significant money on the table. Why?

The reason in many instances is a lack of understanding of the full capabilities of PLM and how these capabilities could enable business critical processes and activities and make them more efficient. Another reason is that PLM is still often limited to Engineering and is not pushed out into the broader enterprise or demanded by other business functions.

Both reasons are based on the same fundamental problem: Education and awareness about PLM and the value it can bring to the organization, both on the executive management level as well as in all business functions. Executive management is not aware how PLM can help to support strategic initiatives, and the different functional departments are not aware how much PLM can enable business critical processes and activities outside of engineering, such as in marketing, sales, quality, procurement, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing, customer support, etc.

What can be done about this? One important activity is to educate key stakeholder in the organization and create awareness. Another critical step is to determine how PLM is currently used in the organization, identify business critical areas where PLM could make a significant difference and determine the value of using PLM in these areas. Sometimes this is an entire process, such as a company’s new product development process, sometimes it’s a very limited but high value activity that PLM can make significantly more efficient and cost effective, such as for example custom product configuration, material compliance, supplier integration or product maintenance and support.

To determine how PLM is currently used in your organization, there is a very good PLM Self-Assessment that allows you to determine your organization’s maturity and the gap to best practices in 34 capability areas of PLM.

Once key stakeholders understand the value PLM can bring to the organization, it is typically easy to find an executive in the organization who will sponsor an expansion of PLM into other areas and start the work.

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