Solution Architect Scott Moisan has seen it all. For 21 years, he has tackled everything from large global product lifecycle management (PLM) implementations to providing emerging startups with a scalable solution. He has quarterbacked numerous smooth implementations by convincing companies to embrace PLM implementation best practices and has also witnessed those who unfortunately rejected proven implementation strategies, which ultimately led to business failure.
In this four-part interview with Scott, he provides his candid insights into the best practices that make for successful PLM implementations.
Arena: How important is it to have a project steering committee to oversee a PLM implementation?
Moisan: The implementations that I have seen that were most successful have a project steering committee with executive members that meet on a regular basis.
There are plenty of examples where a company implements PLM and the executives never hear about it again, but the ones that are most successful are when executives make time for the core implementation team. Executive involvement proves the importance of the implementation and signals to the core team that this is critical to the company’s direction, to the company’s future, and is the foundation of best practices; this is really critical to a project’s success.
Arena: Do you agree that a steering committee with executive team members can make resistance to change easier too?
Moisan: Correct. You get fewer people wanting to haggle about minor issues, like “I don’t like filling out extra attributes on parts" or "I’ve got to click these three extra buttons.” Essentially, it’s a resistance to change. But that’s maybe how you got into the problem in the first place because there was not enough information on your parts or there were no controls or best practices in place to protect your data.
When you have your executive team as part of the PLM implementation team then everyone knows this implementation is critical to the company and the project tends to stay on track. And people tend to complete their tasks when they know every two or three weeks they’re going in front of the project steering committee.
Arena: Organizations with siloed/broken departments, who don’t share data or processes, can complicate the implementation, correct?
Moisan: Companies with good internal relationships are more willing to adopt change understanding that it is better for the organization. And when companies don’t have good internal relationships they can be totally resistant to change. Again, that is where the executive team can help overcome resistance by saying, “this is the direction — figure it out and then we will meet every two weeks and you will have to report back to me.” This tends to help drive change management.
Arena: I bet there can be huge soft dollar costs incurred from infighting that impedes implementation if the executives don’t nip this in the bud. Can you speak to this?
Moisan: Implementing a solution like Arena PLM is meant to be for the betterment of the company. But when team members are not working well together to implement the system the project tends to get delayed taking weeks or months longer than it should. There are a lot of implementations that have huge soft dollar costs just because of the infighting. These need to be met with head-on from the outset.
Arena: Is it true that the more dysfunctional the company culture, the more resistant to implementing a PLM solution, which is designed to unite the organization and its processes in the first place?
Moisan: While ‘dysfunctional’ may be a bit harsh, there’s no question asking multiple cross-functional groups to collaborate and play nice on many matters they were previously performing in silos is challenging at first. PLM is really meant to bring everyone into one central location for their product data, documentation, standard operating procedures and business processes. Your Arena PLM system helps to bring that all together by helping companies adopt best practices and streamline processes which in turn helps product development. So true, the more dysfunctional the company culture, the harder it is to get alignment between disparate team members.
Arena: Is it important to reward the steering teams for the extra effort that goes into implementing a solution?
Moisan: In most cases the core team members who are helping to implement Arena PLM still need to fulfill their normal duties. So their workload can increase significantly. In the successful PLM implementations I’ve been a part of, I’ve seen team members rewarded with dinners with the executives or a company-wide email that acknowledges their hard work. When people work hard, they like to be recognized.
Stay tuned for part-two of our interview with Scott Moisan next week. Be sure to subscribe to our blog (on the top right of this post) so you don’t miss it.