PLM and ERP Coexistence

November 12, 2009

Many companies that operate a collaborative PDM (cPDM) application, exchange BOMs with ERP. Many utilize an interface to achieve this. Still many face challenges regarding the correctness of these bills and also having to do additional work for the bill to do what it needs to do. In this article I’d like to touch on some of the business principles behind the coexistence of both the PLM and ERP worlds and also introduce some thoughts toward greater effectiveness.

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I have worked with several client regarding the principles of change management. What I found was, all in different forms follow CMII principles however the DYNAMICS in which change is implemented into the product and the management process differ. They all operate the specific objects to record change, and also the ‘back-office’ organizations, such as the Change Control Board and some operate also a dedicated Change Introduction Board.

What do I mean with this ‘dynamics’. The change dynamics is the business rational how change introduction ripples through into the product and specifically aspects surrounding product sustainment i.e. sustainment being the process to maintain a product and secure save operation from an engineering perspective. There is a name for it emerging: Sustainment Lifecycle Management.

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In this post I would like to introduce an all embracing view regarding the purpose of a Digital Mockup or DMU. When you research the topic there are different opinions what a DMU is. It depends where you come from. The AutoVue’s view is that the DMU is the lightweight product representation derived from a 3D CAD model. If you are a vendor of 3D CAD, then DMU is the source product representation created with the CAD application. Wikipedia I believe is pretty close: Digital MockUp or DMU is a concept that allows the description of a product, usually in 3D…. although what is meant with ‘concept’.

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Change is a permanent organizational challenge and it does not matter what industry, size of enterprise or organizational structure. Complex collaboration models, the shorter product lifecycles, the variety of products that require attention, the increased product complexity, the advancing information technology and lastly the economic situation. These are some examples of the reasons and accelerators of change.
What is the ability of organizations to execute change, what are the drivers, what are the impediments behind the need, how well do companies execute operational initiatives. Specifically this last topic is the reason to work with experienced consultants. What are the enablers of success?

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I am a Twitter user….. are you? I am writing ‘tweets’ (as InsidePLM name also) as I want to understand how this technology can be used and what potential business value it may bring to an engineering process. Tweets you could consider the most simple form of collaboration, you let another person know what you are doing, you are in fact networking. Twitter could be considered a component of collaboration technology.
Today’s business environment of working together is complex and without a technology to help, you would really struggle. Collaboration technology encompasses a broad range of tools that enable groups of people to collaborate including; social networking, instant messaging, team spaces, application sharing, audio conferencing, video, and telephony. Many large but also SMB companies are developing ‘enterprise’ collaboration strategies and standardize on a collaboration framework to allow their employees, customers and partners to intelligently and virtually connect and interact.

Much of this ‘stuff’ is developed under the umbrella of Web 2.0. It concerns the changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design, with the aim to enhance creativity, communication and secure information sharing. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web culture communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs.

In a series of posts I’ll be writing about various functions and capabilities and how they may be used in a PLM context.

Collaboration frameworks are offered by several PLM vendors and some have experience with SharePoint in a PLM context. A collaboration framework offers companies and employees the ability to share and manage ‘project’ data and through these functions collaborate more effective. Successful collaboration occurs when each participant [or stakeholder] is able to make a unique contribution toward achieving a common goal. In this post I’ll be talking about the technology in support of collaboration.

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Application Sharing is a capability to granting remote access to a computer and enables two or more users to simultaneously and in real time access a shared application to view e.g. a document while being session ‘host’ or ‘guest’. Generally, the shared application will be running on a host computer, and remote access to the shared content will be provided to other users by the meeting host. This type of application provide capabilities to conduct for example a visual Product Design Review while each of the participants are at different (remote) locations. The business benefits are massive. Not only is the conference attendance effort minimized but also the cost of travel. You can also intensify the frequency of these review without any additional effort and cost. Some applications may be integral with for example SharePoint. But also the stand alone applications are rich. Recently I tried the Adobe ‘ConnectNow’ and also InnerPass from Skype. Not only did ConnectNow provide functions to share the desktop; also webcam, (one-to-one) chat, shared meeting notes and files and lastly white board. Obviously meeting notes are candidates to be captured back into PLM when formal; for example as part of a PDR/CDR (i.e. design reviews) and the less formal you would store back into the project collaboration platform.