By Ilan Madjar, Partner, xLM Solutions

In the previous post, “Top 3 Things to Consider Prior to Implementing PLM for Mid-Market Companies,” we reviewed important aspects to consider, such as staff training, technologies and budget for a PLM implementation. In this post, based on our implementation experience, we will share some common traps to avoid to ensure the success of the project.

PLM for mid-market

Quest to achieve quick ROI

As mentioned in the previous post, mid-market implementations have limited budgets and resources dedicated to the project. Along with that comes the expectation for a quick ROI. It means that the PLM implementation has to be carefully planned and communicated to achieve a quick return on investment. Ideally, a long-term roadmap should be established for proper measurement of the ROI, as the benefits are likely to be realized over a period of time rather than immediately. Unlike traditional PLM implementations with larger accounts where a turnkey approach is sometimes taken, the mid-market implementations are all about phased approaches with relatively quick turnarounds.

Staying focused and having the right professionals to maintain, upgrade or be involved in the phased projects is key.

Failure to see the big picture

Mid-market customers are often approaching an enterprise system conversion with a PDM-ish mindset. It is in this context that sophisticated implementers are invaluable. Not only do companies like xLM Solutions fully understand what must be done, but they can educate management on things to consider before making certain decisions to set reasonable and realistic expectations. For example, xLM would dissuade management from putting undue focus on budget, quick implementation and ROI, in favor of appreciating the longer term benefits in shifting to a PLM enterprise system and its greater value for the organization down the road.

Sometimes, without proper education and planning, it is easy to miss the big picture and value of PLM.

Not seeing the forest for the trees

In many cases, the majority of effort and functionality of the system involves dealing with the engineering group without including other product lifecycle management needs throughout the enterprise. xLM has encountered situations where an excessive effort is spent on a very specific engineering process that may only affect a few users. The cost doesn’t justify the benefit.

Therefore, we attempt to point out these types of situations allowing the companies to make better cost/return decisions.

Adding new functionality vs maintaining the status quo

Users have the tendency to resist change. This is human nature. In many companies, mid-level management is often the sponsor but end-users have a greater influence on implementation. The goals of both groups must be reconciled. Management can’t just expect wholesale change overnight. End users cannot expect that the status quo will remain indefinitely holding back progress in the company. A parallel situation occurs where PLM is implemented in a very small division of a large company and the system is not allowed to maximize its potential thus ending up as an underutilized product.

Again, it is critical that the projects be collaborative and all diverse groups are brought into the project early on – getting their buy-in is critical.

In summary, implementing a PLM solution for the mid-market requires experienced consultants providing a roadmap of what is to come and decisions to be made, identifying key considerations and pointing out the pitfalls to avoid. By doing so, a mid-market implementation can be an extremely rewarding and valuable economic decision for a progressive company seeking to be competitive. Setting expectations are crucial regarding scope, budgets, skills and resources.

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