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PLM Implementation

Moving to Cloud PLM: What You Need to Know

By August 24, 2022July 20th, 2023No Comments

If you’re thinking about moving to product lifecycle management (PLM) on the cloud—or software as a service (SaaS)—you’re not alone. In research performed this year, CIMdata found that while only 22% of companies have already selected a cloud PLM solution, a whopping 66% of companies are considering doing so (CIMdata, 2022, Gen 1/Gen 2 SaaS PLM: Definition & Business Benefits).

Regular surveys by Tech-Clarity confirm the rapidly growing trend toward acceptance and reliance on cloud solutions. In 2018, they reported 17% of companies were focused on using cloud only, and about 25% wouldn’t consider or allow cloud. But by 2022, approximately 75% of companies “favor, prefer, or mandate the cloud for new software selections” and only 4% don’t consider or allow it. In fact, the majority of companies—primarily manufacturers, who are traditionally resistant to making software changes—even plan to go so far as replacing their existing PLM solution to achieve cloud benefits (Tech-Clarity, 2022, The State of Cloud PLM 2022).

Tech-Clarity offers an explanation for why the PLM cloud adoption rate has lagged behind adoption of other enterprise systems on the cloud: until recently, companies were forced to choose between full-featured PLM platforms or PLM on the cloud—but no longer. CIMdata validates that notion, describing Gen 1 SaaS PLM solutions as offering only multi-tenancy, with limited functionality and configurability and upgrades on the provider’s schedule. More modern Gen 2 solutions, on the other hand, are much more favorable to enterprise needs, more often single tenancy, with full functionality and configurability, and upgrades on the customer’s schedule.

There’s More to the Choice Than Just “Cloud”

As Tech-Clarity points out in The State of Cloud PLM 2022, “a fundamental cloud PLM transition is underway and has accelerated.” Many companies have gone from “if” to “when” on the cloud PLM question—and they’re moving quickly. However, if you’re among that number, you still need to perform due diligence to ensure the greatest impact, ROI, and longevity for your chosen solution.

  • Different deployment options will suit different companies. Just because a Gen 1 SaaS PLM platform offers limited functionality doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. Depending on your company’s size and PLM needs, less PLM functionality and upgrades on the provider’s schedule may be acceptable compromises or entirely sufficient for your needs. In addition to those two SaaS deployment options, companies can also choose from managed service (cloud deployment managed by another provider), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) (self-managed on public cloud infrastructure), and private cloud deployment on-premise.
  • Pricing and factors that can influence adoption must also be evaluated, including ease of implementation, scalability, and tools that will help with migration as well as streamlining current internal workflows.
  • Operational considerations center primarily on the impact to your IT and other support teams—while the impact will be reduced with cloud hosting, responsibilities will shift to other, more value-added duties.
  • Cloud PLM product capabilities must support your needs for a global, connected workforce, especially the ability for your workers to communicate and collaborate virtually. It should also offer broad coverage across all areas of people or roles, product information, lifecycle stages, and enterprise operations.
  • Out-of-the-box functionality, offered by many platforms, can mean little to no customization will be required. In addition, OOTB workflows based on industry best practices could even offer valuable insight to help your organization improve processes.
  • Ease of customization is also relevant, because as much as companies claim to not want to do the work of tailoring their PLM implementations, 90% of those that do report the customizations are very important or critical to achieving business value.
  • Partner expertise can be a key factor in achieving your company’s goals. If your cloud PLM vendor has deep expertise in supporting product development and strategic planning. You can also provide for future evolution of your implementation by choosing a partner with skill in advanced implementations, including digital thread, digital twin, and IoT capabilities.
  • Special company or industry needs should also be taken into account, including PLM- or cloud-related regulations or standards.

Organizations looking to make a cloud PLM decision would do well to study Tech-Clarity’s The State of Cloud PLM 2022 and Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Cloud SaaS PLM, which goes into even greater detail about the considerations listed above. By outlining the categories of differences in the variety of cloud PLM offerings and providing a structure to help you evaluate your organization’s needs and priorities, they can help you stay focused on the right criteria with which to evaluate providers and platforms.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to be aware that the process of selecting a cloud PLM solution selection may require tradeoffs and compromises. Only by understanding which requirements are the most important to your company will you ensure the success and profitability of your cloud PLM implementation.

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