Over 21 years, super Solution Consultant Scott Moisan has accumulated a rich collection of product lifecycle management (PLM) best practices having tackled PLM implementations of all sizes. The goal behind implementing best practices is to make your company better, faster, stronger and employ a PLM solution that is easy enough for everyone at your organization to use.
“If you implement a solution without following best practices you are just really automating and integrating a train wreck,” says Moisan. “If your data and processes are broken then the solution is not going to help you…except to speed up the inevitable failure.” He also knows the difference between hard and fast rules vs suggestions and recommends that varies dependent upon company size.
Arena: One area where best practices really impact an organization is part numbering. And – as we talked last time – you have a rule that a non-intelligent part numbering system is generally preferred over an intelligent part numbering system, correct?
Moisan: There is something wrong with a complex intelligent part numbering system that takes users months or years to learn. If you’re developing a product, your team should be able to easily go into your categories and say, “this is the type of object I’m creating. Click a button and in return they get a part number.”
Arena: What are the challenges of an intelligent part numbering system?
Moisan: Typically intelligent part numbers make it hard to create part numbers and it is really hard to bring new users into your system because of the learning curve. Additionally, with an intelligent numbering system there is always going to be those one offs where the intelligent number does not work so you have to add an additional digit, or create a suffix to account for these oddities. Now you have an intelligent part numbering system with all these caveats. Again, it makes it really hard to grow as a company if your teams are getting bogged down in a lot of the little things that should be really simple. Keep your part numbering system straightforward and non-intelligent.
Arena: The hard and fast rule for companies regarding part numbering is to keep it non-intelligent. Are there hard and fast rules for engineering change order (ECO) processes?
Moisan: When you start talking about ECO processes, Request processes or Quality processes they tend to differ vastly between companies.
Approval workflows for example, we call them Routings in Arena, reflect your business processes. The engineering release process for company A and company B could both be built on best practices but be totally different. It really depends on the size of the company, who makes the decisions and how much power they give their users. A bigger organization could have longer workflows and a smaller company might have really short workflows — both were built on best practices.
When implementing PLM I show companies how to leverage the different objects within a business process, such as core object requests, changes, and quality processes. And then how to tie all of these processes together.
Arena: How valuable are closed-loop processes?
Moisan: Closing the loop on your processes is extremely valuable to connect your Change Processes to any customer complaints, design or manufacturing issues or product enhancement requests that have been raised. From a Quality perspective you can tie your quality processes to these same processes creating a fully connected Change Management and Quality Management System (QMS).
You have the ability to tie these processes together through links within Arena PLM. This is vitally important because by linking Requests, Changes, and Quality Processes together you get true traceability from start to finish. You have a record of the discovery of the problem, the mitigation strategy, and the formal modification to revision controlled item data that incorporated the modifications into the new design. You can involve your suppliers at these different levels if necessary and receive notifications as each element is closed.
But ultimately, defining a set of best practice workflows can be vastly different between companies.