PLM Beyond Engineering…

In my experience, PLM [product lifecycle management] projects tend to start in engineering.

They start in engineering because engineering has a large volume of documents that they need to manage. Engineering has some strict rules regarding document management. They must have version controls – they need to be able to quickly access the latest released version of a document. They must have access controls. Engineering changes are difficult to manage. Engineering Change Control is the most expensive process for any manufacturing company.

Product lifecycle management began as engineering document management. Engineering document management companies wanted to break out of the engineering into other departments. So, they investigated what these other departments needed to manage their documents. The common need was for a process based document management solution.

No matter your department, all documents move through some kind of process. This blog, for example, starts with a first draft. The next day, it gets an edit pass. The following day, it gets one last review and then I post [release] it.

This same kind of process could work for a data sheet or a marketing flyer. There may be other people in the process, but simply put the process is: author a document, edit a document, approve a document and release it.

Why use PLM Software?

PLM software is process based document management software.

PLM software provides control. It makes sure that all of the steps take place with appropriate sign offs. When a person finishes their activity, they check the document in and it is automatically routed to the next person.

PLM software provides visibility. Anyone can see the status of any document. They can see who is currently working on it. They can see how the document grew to its current version. They can quickly access the latest released.

Electronics Manufacturer Example

An electronics manufacturer in Los Angeles implemented PLM some number of years ago. The initial implementation was in engineering. They started by managing their engineering design process and their engineering change process. During their management meetings, the engineering manager appeared to be very efficient.

Managers from other departments were able to see the results. They really liked the control and visibility that was available to the engineering manager, so they asked to have their information managed in a similar way – process based document management.

Today, their PLM software is in use in most of their departments.

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