Integrating your PLM and ERP systems ensures efficient interdepartmental communication. While a PLM-ERP integration solution enhances process accuracy, it is crucial for you as a manufacturing company to know how to prepare your business before the integration, to avoid repeated efforts or additional costs.
We at To-Increase offer a PLM-ERP integration solution embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management. During our experience of nearly two decades, we have seen how companies reap the maximum benefit of a PLM-ERP integration by preparing their business with a well-planned strategy before they go about the integration.
This article will share the 6 steps that will help you be well-prepared before integrating your PLM and ERP systems.
How can you prepare your business before integrating PLM and ERP?
1. Plan your PLM-ERP integration strategy
When integrating your PLM and ERP, you must decide on the ‘type of integration scenario’ you want to implement. It’s best to decide on the integration scenario based on the output format of your PLM system. Make a list of the features you’re looking for in the integration solution.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What are the technical requirements of the integration?
- Do I want to build the solution, a low-code configurable solution, or an out-of-the-box solution?
- Have I finalized the choice of PLM and ERP systems to be integrated?
- Is the solution compatible with my PLM and ERP systems?
- Is the integration based on the cloud, or is it on-premises?
- Does the integration solution take care of product versioning, compliance management, and software updates?
- Does the solution support any future needs that might arise with my business?
- What challenges would I like to solve after the integration?
- What data will be shared with the ERP after the integration?
- How will data ownership and maintenance change after the integration?
2. Sort, clean, and migrate your data
When your PLM and ERP systems run for a long time, thousands of transactions are made on your products. With such vast data, you must decide how to clean up, sort, and convert the data to avoid inconsistencies in the data location and format. Carefully identify, analyze, and understand what data you want to transfer and where it is in the PLM and ERP systems. Furthermore, ensure you are already on the latest PLM and ERP system versions to avoid repeated data clean-ups.
You could have a single-level or multi-level bill of materials (BOMs), operate with a single entity or in a multi-company environment, etc. Regardless, to avoid data loss issues, especially with bigger volumes of data, it’s essential to migrate your data to a single secure location, test the data, and reset the data in case of any problems.
For instance, let’s say you are integrating a Siemens Teamcenter PLM system with Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&SCM. If you are live with your D365 ERP, you already have some product information. You must decide whether to convert the existing product information to engineering-controlled products or choose that only the new products will be engineering controlled.
3. Include cross-team collaboration
The goal of the integration is to connect two disparate systems. To have a broader perspective while making decisions with people who can think beyond what is visible would be helpful. This allows you to bring innovative ways of optimizing the integration and get a 360-degree overview of the approach to make the integration successful.
Have the right people at the table, doing tasks based on their expertise. Appoint dedicated project managers with knowledge of the PLM and ERP systems to oversee the integration project from start to finish.
Take inputs from all sides and teams using the PLM and ERP systems, as it will enable you to have a comprehensive plan. Such a form of collaboration ensures optimum synchronization between your PLM and ERP systems and reduces the repetition of work and errors, thus, helping you save time and money.
4. Define the integration project specifications
Once your data is analyzed, you need to define the scope of work with the integration project specification. This means you must determine what kind of data you wish to import, update and control, so the PLM-ERP integration works according to your requirements. Keep these documents ready to send out to ISVs you are shortlisting.
Some aspects that your integration project scope must include are:
- The size of the budget, your expected return on investment (ROI), and the total cost of ownership (TCO)
- The extent of configuration or customizations you may require
- An inclusion and exclusion criteria based on which you can sort out potential solution options
- Features you want in your integration, such as data governance, data quality, data ownership, maintenance, etc.
- Implementation process and timelines you are aiming for
- Usability and user-friendliness of the solution
- Defining the tests to verify the integration
It’s better to plan each process with set schedules to minimize deviating from the timelines and adopt best practices for smooth integration.
5. Set a repository to store information
The product data you own could belong to different categories, such as finished goods, raw materials, spare parts, service parts, engineering designs, etc., which is a mix of data owned by the PLM and ERP systems.
Consider where to store all your information before the integration process. For instance, the base for engineering documents, product designs, and structures should be the PLM system. On the other hand, the ERP can handle all the transactional data, such as the financial and supply chain management regarding product manufacturing.
6. Use a unified channel for communication
Create an innovation board to give the engineers and product owners a single source of truth. This allows all the stakeholders to gain clear visibility into any changes in the product data and the progress of the integration project.
The concerned people in both PLM and ERP systems can easily view and approve product data changes without discrepancies or overlaps. A 'self-check' system to reflect and ensure everything is going 'as decided' is an efficient technique to avoid any mistakes throughout the integration.
The decisions made in PLM impact the logistical processes in the ERP system and vice versa. So, having one location to document all the processes helps keep track of the project's progress in real-time and simplifies collaboration across the organization.
How can we help you integrate your PLM and ERP?
There are several benefits of a PLM-ERP integration solution. It is a one-time setup and automates the data import process allowing a seamless connection between your engineering and manufacturing worlds.
If you are on the Dynamics 365 ERP (or planning to migrate to D365), you might be interested in exploring the PLM-ERP integration solutions we offer embedded in Dynamics 365.
We provide out-of-the-box PLM integrations for two PLM systems: Siemens Teamcenter and PTC Windchill. Additionally, we offer a PLM integration framework that can be easily configured for other PLM, PDM, or CAD systems — for example, 3DX Dassault.
Our integration solution is intuitive, low-code, and can be implemented in-person or remotely with an average duration of 3 to 7 days depending upon your PLM system.
You can explore more about the features of our PLM-ERP integration solution in this article or check out this factsheet which shares:
- What the integration solution can do for your business
- Benefits of PLM-ERP integration
- Features of the integration solution