Some thoughts about how PLM [product lifecycle management] software can help your company become more customer centric. Implement your PLM software with a customer focus.
A configurator allows your customer to configure their solution to meet their specific needs. A good example of this can be found on the Dell website. We [the customer] are able to configure a PC to meet our specific needs.
The added benefit here is that Dell builds product upon receipt of the order [no inventory].
Integration [PLM & ERP especially]
Bills of materials [BOM] are created in engineering as the product is being designed. The initial BOM right up through the latest released are typically managed in your PLM software. Upon release the BOM must be ‘written’ into your ERP software – that can be done manually or through integration with your PLM software. Done right, the PLM software will manage all changes to BOM’s and write the new/revised BOM into your ERP software upon release.
This strategy ensures that manufacturing works from a single version of the truth.
In real life, a manufacturer needs to manage multiple BOM’s. Some examples include: as designed, as planned, as manufactured, as shipped, as installed, as maintained, etc. In order to maintain a single version of the truth, any changes to a BOM should be run through an engineering change order in your PLM software.
This ensures that engineers working on product revisions will start with the current BOM. This reduces errors and takes into account all of the changes requested by the customer.
Customer service is a repeatable process. The process can be managed in PLM or Customer Support software – however, changes to the BOM must move through the engineering change process within the PLM software.
Customer feature requests [needed to be customer centric] should be treated the same as an engineering change request. Sales should be able to start the request after talking to the customer. It will then proceed through your approval process.
What’s in it for your company?
A tighter relationship with your customer base will keep your customers buying from you and, hopefully they will provide referrals.