A newly released study titled Making the Connection: The Path to Cloud PLM, published by CIMdata, explores the growth and adoption of cloud product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. The study examines how cloud computing is changing the manufacturing market. This report follows a similar report, which I wrote about in a blog titled Solve Cross-Functional Collaboration Challenges with Cloud PLM.
The report discusses about the challenges and benefits of cloud computing. I wanted to dive deeper into two topics. Why customers are moving to the cloud and how to make the cloud fit into your PLM strategy.
Why Customers are Moving to the Cloud
There are several advantages to adopting cloud (PLM) solutions. For starters, cloud PLM systems are easier and less expensive to manage. The vendor manages the software for you. They also host the solution on their servers and will upgrade the application. Cloud solution providers are responsible for the security and maintenance of the application. And since you are subscribing to the solution, you can spread the costs out over time.
Cloud PLM solutions are scalable. You can start with a few users, then expand as you need more. Or you can start with a few basic functions then increase the functionality. You can also subtract users or functions at any time. The great thing is, there’s no need for lengthy implementation processes. In some cases, you can be up and running in a manner of minutes.
You don’t need to buy new hardware or network equipment to install or expand the cloud PLM system. That will make your finance people happy since they don’t need to spend precious funds on more hardware.
Creating a centralized data repository is another benefit of PLM. You can store your data in one location and multiple users can access the data. Having the data available on the cloud means employees can access it from anywhere in the world. It’s what many in the industry call a ‘single source of truth’. Centralized processes end the practice of storing documents in different network drives. It also streamlines version control and engineering change orders. Think of how much time you spend searching for the right document or the correct version of a 3D CAD file.
Innovative Cloud PLM Features
There are many innovative apps that leverage the collaborative nature of cloud computing. For instance, Virtual Reality applications let you share your CAD designs. Anyone can view your design in a virtual environment. You can also create custom dashboards to organize your PLM process. The 3DView app allows you to share your CAD files with non-CAD users. Other apps allow you to create social communities to gather customer feedback.
Different Paths to PLM in the Cloud
The CIMdata study presents three paths to move towards a cloud PLM solution. They suggest you don’t need to make the move at once. But you should start by identifying the best migration path for your company.
You can ‘encapsulate’ your existing PLM system with existing functionality. For instance, CAD users can use on-premise design software and add PLM functions.
You can take the incremental approach. For instance, some features are better suited to the cloud. On-premise customers can add cloud-based project management or requirements management functions. You could also roll out the cloud solution by department or business units. Either way, the first step should be to identify and locate your key data files. This will help streamline the implementation process.
Making a total switch is a final alternative. But it’s also the riskiest. If you do choose this path, we recommend working with a partner who has experience in this area. A complete switch might work if your company has not yet adopted a PLM solution. You also have to consider what effect the change will have on your total IT infrastructure. For instance, will your cloud PLM integrate with your ERP, MRP, or CRM solutions?
You’re Not Alone
Research firms like CIMdata can provide you with guidance and advice. You can also speak with the PLM experts here at Adaptive. We’ll be glad to help you plan your next move.