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More About CLM, Part 2: Stay Sharp Episode 29

By April 28, 2024May 2nd, 2024No Comments

In Episode 29 of Razorleaf’s Stay Sharp podcast, Configuring Success: Unpacking the Essentials of Configuration Lifecycle Management, Part 2, hosts Jonathan Scott and Jen Ferello continue the conversation they began in Stay Sharp Episode 27, Configuring Success: Unpacking the Essentials of Configuration Lifecycle Management, Part 1.

For Part 2, Jonathan and Jen are again joined by CLM expert Anders Rasmussen, Senior Principal Software Developer at Configit, a company that specializes in software solutions for complex configurable products. This time, the trio digs deeper into how configuration lifecycle management (CLM) can help organizations handle the move to configure-to-order and mass-customization of products, CLM’s role in coping with supply chain challenges, and much more.

Who should be paying attention to CLM?

One of the first questions for Anders is what types of companies and products CLM is the right fit for? The answer is any company with products that have any variance. Anders says, “Not just specifically customized products, but also something you might have to have choices on and put out in large scale.” CLM, according to Anders, is about “bringing things together, but also then consuming it from that place. That makes it a richer piece of information, richer knowledge, because it’s your product from all the disciplines collected in one place.”

CLM and Other Acronyms: PLE, MBE, and DT

Next, the trio spends some time talking about how to understand CLM in relation to other terms and approaches manufacturing companies might be familiar with or currently using, such as product-line engineering. PLE, Anders says, covers the first part of the product lifecycle, when you’re handling the product’s different capabilities, adding, “PLE is part of this CLM story, because it talks about configuration from the engineering perspective. CLM is a bit of a broader picture because it talks about how to bring all the configuration aspects together.” As Jonathan puts it, PLE is a piece of what you might do in the broader approach of CLM.

Jonathan also brings up how the concepts of model-based design (MBD) or model-based enterprise (MBE) connect to CLM, since both MBE and CLM are based on a full story of a product throughout the enterprise, as well as a common language. Anders agrees, “I would say the motivation for going model-based and sharing that in a digital thread is almost the CLM story. We just tell it from a configuration perspective.” He says CLM ensures that product models—the product definitions from a configuration perspective—are aligned throughout the lifecycle of the product, concluding, “model-based approach is the foundation for doing configuration.”

The first thing companies need to discuss when implementing CLM is a feature model, which defines conceptually what features exist, what’s allowable, what can be done and not done, and more. “That’s so much of what we do in the product development space today,” Jonathan says.

“We’re modeling our understanding of something. In this case, modeling configurations, modeling the concept to use it in other places. If we can really connect it through CLM, throughout the lifecycle, down to the technical details, now we’re sharing models, which is the whole point of MBE.” Anders sums it up: “Your intent about your product is your feature model. Your result is your configuration.”

Another topic the trio discusses at length concerns the product feature model and all of the “abstractions.” To Anders, abstractions are an idea rather than the physical manifestation—meaning abstractions are possible features that could be included in a product, possible configurations a customer could request, and even a specific unique configuration requested by a customer. Keeping all of that information collected for the product as a whole but also for every specific configuration is a digital thread (DT). “To me, when you say digital thread,” Anders explains,” it’s just a natural thing for mass-customizable products that can be configured to put the configuration in there and keep that up to scratch with the latest changes you apply to your products.” The idea of storing every unique configuration in CLM also enables manufacturers better opportunities for servicing, upgrading, and upselling their products over the lifecycle.

Learn More About CLM

The full Stay Sharp Episode 29, Configuring Success: Unpacking the Essentials of Configuration Lifecycle Management, Part 2 podcast episode offers much more in-depth discussions of how and when to dive into CLM in your organization, how CLM can help companies determine if they’re wasting money on features no one wants, case studies of CLM in action, and more.

Don’t forget to catch the start of the CLM conversation—CLM definitions and fundamentals, in Stay Sharp Episode 27, Configuring Success: Unpacking the Essentials of Configuration Lifecycle Management, Part 1. Join us each week for a new Stay Sharp episode!

“PLM is an absolutely essential tool for the engineering space,” Anders reiterates. “CLM is one source of truth—the technical source of the design source of truth. But you can go other places in the organization and find similar knowledge that has a completely different view. CLM is about connecting all those systems that each holds a product definition, just from different points of view in a product lifecycle.” It’s the alignment of all of an organization’s knowledge into one place.

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