Gopi Krishna Akella
Since the days of its origination, PLM (which was essentially CAD data management – PDM as it was called) was an engineering centric tool primarily in the hands of product design teams. PDM helped engineering departments manage and control the digital product data and acted as a vault for storing product metadata.
With the technology evolution and emergence of personal computers the scope and need of product data expanded beyond engineering department. That’s when PDM grew bigger and slowly transformed into PLM with more functionality offering collaboration and process management across departments. But as the foundation was still the product data, engineering teams (CTO organization) played crucial role in selecting and maintaining the product and also had the economic ownership.
In the last decade PLM has matured and broadened to a level where it now encompasses not just the internal resources but also external parties of organization. It has achieved a full-fledged enterprise class application status integrating different pieces of information across an organization and now plays a primary role in product development, innovation, engineering, compliance and profitability. The ability of PLM to reach out to systems both in Enterprise level (ERP systems) and in manufacturing level (SCM, Sourcing, Production Planning, Quality) has also grown a great deal.
This maturity brought some challenges like data security, interoperability, scalability, governance etc. In today’s scenario it can be quoted that any new PLM deployment is in equal size as an ERP package and has to be dealt in a critical manner with proper IT attention and collaboration with engineering owner. Continuous IT support is needed in maintaining the performance of PLM system with measurable metrics.
PLM is emerging as an important tool for business continuity and gives a fairly distinctive chance to control product costs and improve revenue by innovative product designs. It is not any more a means for product management but is being viewed more as an innovation management tool and a technology backbone across the product ecosystem.
In the current economy where product development initiatives are more critical than any other strategic moves, PLM cannot be treated as an engineering object but instead it has to be made part of Corp IT strategy with a long term view and with a specific roadmap linking with enterprise systems.
There are still many organizations with legacy PLM systems that are owned and run efficiently by engineering teams with perfectly no disruption in product development. But going forward to leverage the strategic benefits of new age PLM, it is essential to rationalize it as part of overall business strategy and consider it as a CIO’s strategic leverage for long term business growth.Read here to know more about PLM.