Emerging PLM vendor ecosystems will tame user process complexity

Product life-cycle management (PLM) adoption continues apace—even in some unexpected areas—as companies seek out collaborative, engineering-centric product development. Add to that the demand for expanded software integration and end-to-end PLM processes, and incumbent PLM software vendors are feeling a whole new kind of pressure to upgrade and evolve their capabilities.

09/01/2007


Product life-cycle management (PLM) adoption continues apace—even in some unexpected areas—as companies seek out collaborative, engineering-centric product development. Add to that the demand for expanded software integration and end-to-end PLM processes, and incumbent PLM software vendors are feeling a whole new kind of pressure to upgrade and evolve their capabilities.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research , which reports frequently on PLM, defines the process as “the collaborative management of product information from inception to retirement.” In a recent report, New Vendor Ecosystems Will Emerge to Tame Customers' Process Complexity , Forrester says PLM is of central interest because innovation now is a key differentiator. But as PLM solutions expand in scope, so do the challenges of deploying it effectively.

“There is increasing pressure on vendors to enhance their solutions, but no one vendor can provide it all,” says Roy Wildeman, Forrester senior analyst and author of the report. “As a result, a new ecosystem comprised of a mix of PLM application vendors, enterprise content players, and system integrators will need to emerge.”

Compounding the software requirements issue is a whole host of market dynamics:

  • Product data management (PDM): A foundation element, PDM is made more difficult by cumbersome multiple data models, legacy processes, and mergers and acquisitions.

  • Alignment : As the number of vested stakeholders expands, what was originally a design engineering domain now must include the interests and objectives of other business areas.

  • Globalization : As value networks expand globally, new opportunities surface—as well as new risks to successful collaboration across broadly distributed partners.

  • New markets : Strong growth opportunities in relatively unplumbed markets such as pharmaceuticals, apparel, and consumer products will require vendors to spread their focus and resources to deliver segment-specific solutions that can be implemented out-of-the-box.

“PLM stakeholders are demanding not just traditional engineering functionality, but support for operations and IT,” says Wildeman. “Companies will have to deal with much larger, more complex PLM deployments from an IT perspective.”

End-user organizations should gauge their strategies based on where they are in the PLM maturity use cycle, Wildeman stresses. These are considered key recommendations:

  • Pure CAD/CAM/CAE environments : Select PDM based on proof, not vision. For a global manufacturer of complex products, PLM process owners should seek validation of extended enterprise design and product structure centralization.

  • Experienced PDM shops : Consider PLM for the top line, but make the business case on costs. Time-to-market revenue growth can be difficult to substantiate, where quantifiable reductions in direct material and production costs are less problematic.

  • Advanced PLM shops : Heed the lessons of big ERP implementations, where configuration versus customization, standards, and vendor relationships are considered the keys to preserving investments.





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