“If you don’t get the culture right, you can throw tools at a problem all day long and get more of the same behavior.”
This quote – published in a recent article published to SearchDataManagement.com by Beth Stackpole – comes from Dr. Michael Grieves, professor of information systems at the University of Iowa, NASA consultant, and author of Product Lifecycle Management: Driving the Next-Generation of Lean Thinking.
Stackpole’s article is titled ‘Best Practices For PLM Integration Across the Enterprise,’ – and it’s an article I highly encourage you to read in its entirety prior to integrating a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution into your environment.
In the article, Stackpole identifies five best practices for PLM integration:
1. Know thy process
2. Enlist executive sponsorship
3. Talk up the value of PLM
4. Start small and establish metrics
5. Don’t underestimate technical integration
I highlight Stackpole’s last point as this is an area I feel needs perhaps the highest degree of focus, and ties into Dr. Grieves quote quite succinctly.
A fundamental risk within any manufacturing firm, especially a firm with global operations, is the risk of information becoming siloed within individual teams. For example, if information concerning a flaw in the development of a product is available only to the engineering team, and kept from marketing, there exists the risk of gearing up product launch tasks too quickly – resulting in wheel spinning at best, and a significant loss in resources at worst.
In much the same way, if a PLM system is implemented – but not integrated with all other systems related to manufacturing processes (think Enterprise Resource Planning systems, think Manufacturing Execution Systems) the risk exists for information to be siloed in one system.
Stackpole notes that PLM essentially acts as a repository for everything product related, and if the PLM system is not receiving the information it needs from other core systems, it will be very difficult to achieve success.
Based on the 1 – 5 ordering Stackpole provides in her list, this lack of integration can have the trickle up effect of failure as:
4. Adequate data is not on-hand to establish even the most basic metrics of success
3. Any discussion on the value of PLM starts and ends poorly, as the system’s lack of information struggles to make any process more workable
2. High-level executives see only the bottom-line struggles, and refuse to put weight behind PLM as a solution
1. PLM is deemed a solution that simply will not fit into existing processes
And this ties back to Dr. Grieves point about simply throwing out tools to try to solve problems without first addressing culture challenges.
Prior to even considering integrating PLM, manufacturing companies must first embrace a culture of integration. PLM is a powerful solution, but a good share of its power comes from its ability to integrate with other systems.
And it’s those manufacturing companies that accept the power of PLM integration that will experience the true power of a PLM solution.