Data Analytics Drives PLM Adoption

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The single biggest problem for managers embarking on, or undertaking a PLM initiative is the justification for project funding.  As PLM leaders we have all been there, working on slide packs to demonstrate the future benefits when successfully implemented, or bringing a new board member up to speed on the PLM project to ensure a continuation of funding the for next budget year…..  Every year the invoice for PLM software maintenance lands, and generally there is a new colleague who has appeared in the finance approvals process, who cannot believe the costs compared to other enterprise software deployed within the organisation.  Like most projects, managing a PLM project is a constant exercise in business justification and demonstrating continued benefit.

Often executive leadership teams were presented with business cases including eye watering figures to implement PLM and completely reorganise the data silos and business processes, with a good dose of change management thrown in.  Vendors and System Integrators were invited in to bring credibility to the figures and convince the leadership that the organisation needed to undertake the initiative to stay competitive in a global market. You can understand why many executive teams wanted to start small and measure the ROI to ensure that PLM was delivering on the promises, or simply said no until they could see evidence of competitors investing in PLM.

The PLM implementations where project funding has not been such a combative subject, are those that continue to provide excellent data analytics and business intelligence to the organisation.  In fact, when planners, managers and leaders can see the number of duplicate fixings in a product, or the numbers of ECR’s running through the approvals processes they tend to ask more questions.  These questions can either be answered through introducing a new data point or report within the existing PLM system or involve a conversation such as; “Well if we integrated the ERP system with PLM we could look at getting you that report”.

Providing rich data analytics or information that managers can act upon, drives the continued adoption of the PLM system.  The leaders that are asking why they, “cannot see a report on all the materials in the product and see visually in 3D where they located on the product”, are engaged in the investigation of data and will therefore support any additional PLM investments to get the information required. I have seen occasions where reluctant Heads of Manufacturing have been urged to engage with the PLM projects as the executive team have understood how better integration will expose more data for analytics.

The PLM vendors have been developing capabilities to view analytics within the context of the assembly to provide greater decision making intelligence. The ability to see visually where the most expensive components are in a product or which areas are overdue in the design signoff approvals has provided great insight for many organisations.  The trend is to offer a lighter browsing experience with fully featured reporting tools to an enterprise user such as Purchasing, Management and Executive Leadership.  This information is also driving the push into Virtual or Augmented Reality (VR/AR) systems, taking the interactive experience to a new level.  Ensuring you offer a great in-context data analytics capability across your PLM system will drive adoption through to more areas of the business, it often turns from a push to a pull from the business as they can visually see the benefits.

PI specialise in peer-led conferences on PLM and related technologies, join us in Fort Worth this October for PI PLMx Texas 2017. At our Texas event, we have a number of great presenters, including Johnson Controls discussing how they are using analytics to support Business Growth and Product Offering Diversification.  PI events are focused on networking with the opportunity to request meetings with delegates, speakers and sponsors.  This year we are excited to announce our PLM Vendor panel (Dassault Systèmes, Aras, Oracle, SAP, Siemens); providing an opportunity to ask and challenge the speakers on key strategic trends such as the future of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.

At Product Innovation a CIO-led learning community for manufacturers, over several years we have captured through interviews and recorded presentations, how leading organisations have understood the importance of data analytics and actionable intelligence to drive business adoption. This content is available through our PI membership community, with curated content ensuring that both new and existing manufacturers tackling the challenge will gain insights into effective strategy, implementation and the inevitable pitfalls that exist in getting there.

Paul Empringham, VP Research, PI – a CIO-led learning community for manufacturers.

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