The PLM experts and consultants behind the PLM Technology Guide have been involved in dozens of successful PLM evaluations and implementations at all types and sizes of organizations, from Fortune 500 OEMs to mid-size suppliers to small, rapidly growing startups.
Elements of a Successful PLM Implementation
The following elements should be included in every PLM implementation to ensure a successful outcome:
- Project management
- Organizational change management
- Solution design, including
- Business practices and processes
- System architecture
- Software installation
- System configuration and customization
- Application integration (CAD, ERP, legacy systems, others)
- Data migration, including
- Data cleansing
- Data migration tools and scripts
- Export from source systems
- Staging and preparation
- Import into PLM system
- Testing and validation
- User and system administrator training
- Post go-live support and user mentoring
Any vendor proposal and/or plan for a PLM implementation should address and include sufficient time and effort for all these elements. See also The Cost of PLM
On a very high level, there are two major implementation methodologies: Waterfall and Agile.
The Waterfall method
is a sequential process, often used in software development and implementation, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through different phases. The original Waterfall method included the phases Requirements Definition, Design, Implementation, Verification and Maintenance (see graphic below), but today there are many variations dependent on the type of project or area of application. This method is relatively easy to manage, but it provides less flexibility to adopt to changes during the project and because of its sequential approach projects usually require more time to complete.
The Agile method is based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development or implementation cycle. The Agile method generally requires very tight control and management of scope, schedule and cost, and having an experienced project manager is critically important for the successful use of this approach.
PLM software vendors
, PLM consulting firms
and PLM system integrators
typically use a variation of either the waterfall or agile implementation method, although the majority seems to prefer the more traditional Waterfall approach. Many of these companies use further refined methodologies that take into consideration not only the technical aspects of PLM, but also people, process and adoption issues.