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4 Questions to Ask Before Importing Your PLM or QMS Data

44306973 - group of unidentifiable business people hiding under question marksIn the Pulitzer-Prize winning book, The Grapes of Wrath, author John Steinbeck chronicles the heart-wrenching struggles of a family of farmers that migrates from the wasteland of an Oklahoma dust bowl to California in hopes of a brighter future. Likewise, many companies that have endured painful struggles and hardships of spreadsheets to manage product data realize they must eventually migrate to a modern product lifecycle management (PLM) or quality management system (QMS) solution; however, unlike the brutal migration described in The Grapes of Wrath, the migration of your PLM data, which admittedly can be high risk and high reward, can be easy to achieve if you follow best practices.

In last week’s blog post, we focused on identifying and gathering the data you need to migrate to your new PLM system. Now with your data “in hand”, it’s time to set up your PLM/QMS system to import and store that data in the most useful and efficient manner.

To do this, you will need to ask yourself several questions:

1. What fields in my existing data do I need in my PLM/QMS system and which fields can I ignore?

Review all the data types you have to migrate (e.g. item master, bill of materials (BOM), AML, AVL). Then, identify which fields are important to migrate. This is a good time for data cleanup. If there are attributes (field data) that are no longer useful—leave them off the list. Depending on where the data currently resides (e.g., ERP), there may be fields that are only useful to that system, and NOT useful in your PLM or QMS solution.

2. Does my PLM system have standard, “out of the box” fields to support all the data I want to migrate?

For this data mapping exercise, you will need to be familiar with the data model of your PLM/QMS system. For the fields identified in #1, identify the standard PLM and QMS fields they should populate. Some common examples of standard fields are:

  • Item Number
  • Item Name or Description
  • Revision
  • Unit of Measure (UoM)
  • Manufacturer Name
  • Manufacturer Part Number
  • Supplier/Vendor Name
  • Supplier/Vendor Part Number

3. If I don’t have standard fields, what additional “custom” fields do I need to create?

When you finish mapping your standard data set, you will have some existing data fields that don’t currently have a good “home” in your new system. For these, your new system should allow you to create custom fields. Document the additional fields you need, along with its other features, such as field type (text, number, list, etc.), default value, and field requirements (does it need to be populated?).

4. How should I define and categorize item data?

Your PLM/QMS system should have a feature to set item and file categories for data. Examples include resistors, fasteners, fabricated metal, subassemblies, and finished goods (FG). Categories allow you to search for specific types of data, control which custom fields appear, drive auto item numbering, and may also be leveraged if and when you pass information between computer-aided design (CAD) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

You may already have an inferred category scheme in your existing data by how you assigned item numbers. It may be documented in a company procedure. Regardless, this is the time to formally document and configure the part numbering scheme you intend to use. You will need to have the category assigned to each item and file in your existing data before it can be imported into Arena.

And, that’s it. Simply follow the aforementioned steps and you can be assured of smooth and effective migration of your product record information.

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