A study performed in January 2018 by CIMdata, in partnership with leading PLM solution providers, uncovered compelling insights into plans for cloud PLM adoption. CIMdata’s motivation for the survey of industrial companies was a belief that cloud adoption in the PLM space was slower than in other enterprise application areas—a belief that was surprisingly not borne out by responses. What CIMdata did find is that cloud PLM seems poised for significant growth in the near future.
Some of the most intriguing information in CIMdata’s paper about the research, Cloud PLM: Understanding Adoption Prospects, has to do with the benefits survey respondents expect to reap from cloud PLM. Topping the list is making data management easier for IT teams, as well as easy scalability, lower costs—for both startup and ongoing maintenance—and greater simplicity and predictability for future upgrades and validation of implementations. Top concerns respondents expect to face with cloud PLM implementations are issues with integration, security, inability to customize, lack of confidence in cloud-based performance, and potential data-lock-in.
But the most interesting metric has to do with the biggest challenges respondents’ face with their PLM implementation, particularly the fact that cross-functional coordination is number one on the list. This ubiquitous concern is independent of PLM, of course, and speaks more to the intractability of many entrenched organizational structures. Over and over the issues that arise during any kind of enterprise platform implementation are how to get information out of departmental or team silos and into a central repository to be accessed company-wide.
Doing so requires not only a procedural change, from one software platform and set of habits to another but also a cultural change that can be similarly tough for an entrenched corporate structure. Overcoming resistance to change is a universal, perennial challenge for companies and organizations large and small, but it’s the first step toward making meaningful improvements that can help productivity, employee satisfaction, and ROI.
One of the best tools for overcoming resistance is, ironically, one of the sources of concern: a cloud PLM solution. But it’s better seen not as a new piece of software mandated for company-wide adoption, but as a single source of truth—a single location where all product and part information resides, connected and cross-referenced, so all teams and departments can access any information they need, any time they need it, and know with total certainty that the data is up to date.
The move to a single source of truth must begin with the enterprise making a clear decision to change. To guarantee cross-functional collaboration takes root, there must be clear organizational goals driving the activity. Executive sponsorship of the process is key, paired with team accountability, to ensure everyone in the company moves forward together.
Benefits of Cloud PLM
When a company gets onboard with cloud PLM, every department, every team, and every individual stand to realize the benefits. The “single source of truth” means a single platform delivering all the functionality the enterprise requires, making installation, administration, and maintenance easier for everyone. It also means a central repository—a central location where all product data is stored and where everyone can find the information they need. This ultimately reduces the burden on individual departments, especially engineering, that no longer have to respond to multiple requests for information tailored to another department’s needs.
PLM based in the cloud offers anytime, anywhere access and, typically, high availability, without the attendant burden on the corporate budget to finance or IT to maintain a capable system. High-end PLM platforms are also easy to integrate with a wide variety of other enterprise systems, such as ERP, CRM, MRP, SharePoint, and more.
In addition, a cloud PLM platform enables the complete enterprise collaboration package: all of the different activities and actions that combine to deliver business intelligence and reporting, including design, simulation, virtual manufacturing, additive manufacturing, and inspection and metrology.
In the end, with an integrated, comprehensive cloud PLM system, it becomes much more than a piece of software, but a single source of truth for all teams who take an active part in bringing a product to market. This is the level of true collaboration that will help to improve an organization’s bottom line.