There are a lot of companies looking for PLM tools, and with good reason. PLM software can do amazing things to accelerate and enhance product development processes. And in theory, better product development processes yield better products, which results in higher value to the customer. But it isn’t easy to get it right when choosing a piece of PLM software.
In my experience, here’s an abridged list of things NOT to do when selecting PLM tools:
- Do not use price to drive your decisions about PLM tools.
Value is much more important to consider when choosing tools. A bicycle may be a less expensive way to get to work, but a car is a better value if you live far away from your job. Only consider price in the context of the benefits you expect to get from a particular tool. You’ll also find this makes a huge difference when speaking to business leaders about funding a new tool. Of course people will be interested in how much the PLM tool costs, but you’ll be speaking their language if you can explain the tool’s value to the organization.
- Do not expect that a demonstration will provide enough information to choose a piece of software. no matter how detailed or focused on your needs that demonstration may be.
Demos are demos, and they are practiced and rehearsed. Vendors aren’t going to discuss the shortcomings of their software and talk about real-world workarounds. In addition to the vendor, you should hear from people who deal with that software a lot – consultants and other customers.
- Do not try to solve a PLM problem on your own.
The consulting industry wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t value in getting an outside opinion. Many companies overlook great software/features because they think they can analyze the tools on their own, but you don’t know what you don’t know, right? This isn’t to say that you have to turn over your PLM problems and let someone else solve them for you, or that you have to spend all of your budget just getting a second opinion. But you wouldn’t remove your own appendix without at least talking to a doctor, would you?
- Do not assume that PLM software only matters to Engineering.
Multiple groups within the company are involved in the lifecycle of your product and may need to use new PLM tools. A process is only as good as its weakest link, so don’t overlook people who participate in your PLM processes. What if you could guarantee the shop floor would view drawings electronically (and stop printing paper drawings) if only the new PLM tool supported mobile devices? Would you know this if you only talked to Engineering about the PLM tool?
- Do not forget that you may need to mix-and-match multiple pieces of software to get the tools you need for your business.
It can be costly to maintain multiple software applications and to integrate disparate systems and tools, but this cost may be justified. Some vendors oversell the value of buying an integrated suite of PLM tools. It is important to remember that ultimately, each piece of software is just a tool and you need to have the right tools to get the job done. Sometimes, that means buying two very different programs and writing something custom to connect them. This isn’t always the best choice, but don’t ignore evaluating the option.
Hopefully this list of things NOT to do helps you avoid some pitfalls in searching for good PLM software. If you’re tired of looking at the glass half-empty, my next post will outline what you should do to choose PLM tools.
This post is Part 3 in a five-part series titled “Achieveble PLM”. View the other articles published: