Collaboration and Enabling Framework

June 9, 2009

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.

The technology basically provides an efficient user experience between the different applications and the place of storage of objects. This technology help stores our documents on file servers and directories without having to remember where. With collaboration technology and specifically SharePoint you can provide a ‘team site’ to these (user) locations. Also you can plugin certain web applications for example in the case of again SharePoint, these are so called web parts. These web parts provide for specific functions and capabilities and these days more PLM vendors bring out specific web parts associated with their solution capabilities/technology.

Web parts provide a complete work experience as critical information would be available in an application integrated manner. I would call such ‘user experience’ a workbench. An engineer starting his work in the morning would open his/her ‘engineering workbench’. In this workbench (s)he would find the files being worked on and also ‘messages’ of work others have been doing in which the person’s involvement is required. It may even include some level of work routing. Specifically I would not like to call this workflow, as the intent is basically routing of objects and does not represent an enterprise process. In a previous post I talked about Ideation, well this could be a set of capabilities in the workbench. Other functions may include fill out forms for objects such as problem reports or time sheets. There could also be a series of reports on the ‘home page’ for example project score cards i.e. the things that matter and that participants should be sensitive about.

SharePoint today also includes Blog and Wiki functions (see my follow up posts). So this workbench really would be the starting point of work-in-progress knowledge and  management. Having these core functions available at a single application and information point obviously brings substantial efficiencies. There is a large offering of collaboration software available these days and Wikipedia provides a comprehensive list. Not all are appropriate in an engineering context though, so an assessment regarding business needs and requirements should be a critical step prior to making choices for such solution.

One Response to “Collaboration and Enabling Framework”

  1. Mintjens Says:

    There are currently several mature products on the market that are both technical as commercial superior then the MS offering. But collaboration is not about tools, it is mainly about people and information as the main company assets. Therefore collaboration should be an integral part of any PLM framework. Too many collaboration initiatives did fail in the past due to lack of integration with the main PLM business systems and underestimating of the cultural impact of introducing such a collaboration tool. Such an introduction should be regarded and managed as a business process change management project and not just as the introduction of a new IT application.

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