PLM Project Complexity

There is a current discussion in one of the LinkedIn PLM groups discussing PLM failures. It would not be reasonable that a company would publicize a failure, but it doesn’t mean that failures don’t happen.

I am aware of a few PLM projects that were total failures and abandoned. However mostly, I see projects that are not completed on time and have been very costly. These experiences make it difficult for a company to take on other large projects.

Project Complexity…

In order to give you an idea of the complexity, I have listed an example of the milestones that could exist in the typical PLM project plan. Your project manager will need to make sure that all of these milestones are met and manage the dependencies.

  • Identify your PLM project champion
  • Identify your User Team
  • Document how your company does business today
  • Document how you would like to do business in the future
  • Identify the departments involved in the initial implementation
  • Document how you would like the software to work
  • Identify your user community
  • Identify your products
  • Identify documents to be managed
  • Identify file types
  • Identify the attributes you will be tracking
  • Select a part number strategy
  • Describe how you want the user interface to appear
  • Identify your design process
  • Identify your engineering change process
  • Identify the items to be shown in your bill of materials
  • Describe how you will approve and manage vendors
  • Describe how you will approve and manage contractors
  • Decide on a software implementation plan
  • Define processes that will be used
  • Decide on a strategy for data uploading
  • Configure the software
  • Test the software
  • Fix the software and retest
  • Roll out your PLM to the company

In reality, this list could be an over simplification of the real milestones.

Managing your project…

As you might imagine, managing a PLM project is not easy. There is so much involved in a PLM project that it is easy for something to slip. Strangely enough, scheduling meetings is a big impediment to being on time.

Typically, a PLM project is approved based on a return on investment analysis. In writing the analysis, some assumptions are made. One is that the project will finish on time. I am sure a small slip of 10 – 15% is acceptable, but often the slip is more than 50% which is not.

Some Take Aways…

Scope – If you can complete the initial implementation in 6 months or so, you are more likely to keep your users attention and enthusiasm. If your project takes more than a year, you are likely to lose some folks.

Management – Project success rates increase dramatically with a strong champion and a strong project manager.

Assists – As with any project, they get easier with repetition. A consultant with lots of experience can be a real asset.

My business is based on helping companies manage the issues that can extend a project. Contact me if you would like some help…

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