Slowing Down to Speed Up: 6 Steps to Effective PLM Planning

As more and more companies understand the strategic business potential of PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) to improve product innovation, development, and competitive advantage, the scope of PLM initiatives has increased dramatically.

Indeed, research from Tech-Clarity and PTC shows that, on average, companies implementing PLM in the last few years typically involve three or more departments across the organization (e.g., manufacturing, supply chain, quality), not just engineering.

As such, the complexity of planning and managing successful initiatives has increased dramatically.

With multi-year, multi-departmental, and multi-million-dollar PLM programs now common, the challenges of minimizing program risk and accelerating time to value have emerged as core priorities for senior corporate management and boards of directors.

Simply put, when you`re betting a chunk of the company’s future on PLM success, you can’t afford to leave any element of that success to chance.

A recent post highlighted two keys to aligning your organization for PLM success: detailed implementation roadmaps and business value scorecards. The general idea is to invest the time up front in creating an operational plan that ties the sequencing of solutions implementation to business priorities with practical consideration of organizational constraints, process change, and technology capabilities.

More specifically, there are six steps in particular which companies with complex programs have found to be essential to creating effective plans, roadmaps, and scorecards:

  1. Business Value: Define and align on concrete measures of business value, such as accelerating time to market, increasing product innovation, reducing product development cost, or improving product quality.
  2. Process Priorities: Define and align on specific process changes required to achieve business objectives, such as product design collaboration, compliance review, or supply chain management.
  3. Technology: Define and align on specific technology capabilities required to support process improvements.
  4. Tradeoffs: Identify critical decisions and tradeoffs for program implementation, including technology deployment, data migration, quality control, and organizational learning and adoption.
  5. Roadmap: Create detailed deployment roadmap based on program priorities, investment requirements, and resource capacity.
  6. Ratification: Ratify the roadmap and metrics with key business and IT stakeholders to ensure full alignment on priorities, timeline, responsibilities, and tradeoffs.

If this all seems like a lot of work before even beginning any actual deployment, it is. Smart companies take three to six months or even longer to get the roadmap right. But the effort is well worth it. Top performing companies are twice as likely to create this kind of roadmap, and the payoff is five to 10 times the benefit in critical areas such as time to market, product development efficiency, and product cost. Sometimes you really do need to slow down in order to speed up.

What have you found to be effective in planning for major PLM programs?

The Tech-Clarity/PTC study will be available later this summer. Contact for more information.

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2 thoughts on “Slowing Down to Speed Up: 6 Steps to Effective PLM Planning”

  1. Barry Cavanaugh says:

    It would be an improvement if PTC’s “value mapping” exercises could easily “scale downward” based on customer preferrences or circumstances – weeks of value mapping activity might be justified if the implementation is going to take 12 months or longer, but if I want only a portion of windchill such that my implementation is taking 12 weeks I think “weeks” of value mapping is not necessary and results in cost and schedule delays with little value.

  2. Rob Leavitt says:

    Thanks Barry — and good point about scaling down the value mapping exercise. Certainly it could be hard to justify several months of planning for a 12 week implementation project, but I do think the general approach here still makes sense. It’s the old measure twice, cut once idea; you want to invest enough time up front to minimize the chances of costly mistakes later on. That said, I would guess that a number of the steps here could be done quite quickly for a relatively small scope implementation.

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