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Ensure Scary PLM Implementation Monsters Don’t Haunt You

blue-furry-monsterFor anyone who has ever seen the movie “Monsters Inc.”, you know the moral of the story is that Sully, the giant blue haired devil horned monster, discovers that children’s laughter generates more power (and revenue) for the company than do screams.

Our own Sully, Solution Consultant Mike Sullivan, has seen how an easy product lifecycle management (PLM) implementation process makes our customers happy. Very happy.

Giddy for that matter.

Cloud is the platform, or portal in the case of Monsters Inc., that opens a world of smiles not screams when it comes to easy implementation.

For companies where time is of the essence — getting up and running in days as opposed to months can be the difference between success and failure.

In this part-two blog post interview with Sully, he explains the best practices to keep the monsters of complicated PLM implementations past fleeing in fear. For operations managers, the rattling chains of on-premise solutions that have cursed them in the past are now simply snickered at.

Arena: Talk to me about the importance of defining PLM project scope and phases.

Sullivan: Depending on your defined requirements and scope, you may be able to initially “go-live” with PLM and include all the functionality you intend to deploy. But more than likely, you should prioritize your goals and requirements, and break them up into “phases”. You will want to get a return on your PLM investment as soon as possible. Go for the quick wins. When rapid results are demonstrated it helps instill internal buy-in. You may be working to deadlines imposed by other factors, such as your new product introduction (NPI) schedule or the retirement of legacy systems.  Define your implementation phases according to your needs and priorities. Phase 1 go-live can be with the core solutions you need first, for the users and processes that need it first. You can follow on with a Phase 2 that includes the remainder of your requirements.

This is especially important for integrations. PLM can integrate with other key systems, like Mechanical CAD, Electrical CAD (Schematic Capture), and downstream systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP). It may be critical for you to include integrations in Phase 1. A common example of this is ERP integration. Going live with PLM integrated to ERP eliminates the need for duplicate manual data entry and errors. But you need to weigh this against the time, resources and technical requirements to decide whether or not to push this to a Phase 2.

Arena: What’s the key to getting a good implementation start?

Sullivan: There are certain steps you can take to ensure your PLM implementation gets a fast successful start:

  • Once you agree on the scope of Phase 1, work with your PLM vendor to define a project plan including phases, tasks, responsible parties, and dates.
  • Agree with the PLM vendor what types and quantities of data will be imported to PLM for Phase 1.
  • Document where that data currently resides, how it can be gathered, and what resources are needed to make this happen.
  • Confer with the PLM vendor on the required format they require for data delivery.
  • Gather all documentation related to existing processes that PLM will affect. This includes, but is not limited to, part/document numbering and categorization schemes, revision schemes, product lifecycle phases, change approval requirements, etc. Provide these to the PLM vendor at the appropriate time.

Arena: Talk to us about end user training. What do you recommend?

Sullivan: A successful launch of a PLM system depends on proper training and support of all its users. Start by ensuring that your key team members get adequate training early on in the project. If your vendor offers classroom or web training, make sure your key team members attend or take this training.

Include in your project plan the planning and delivery of end user training. Your PLM vendor should be able to provide guidance in this planning process. Key areas to address:

  • Who are my initial users at Phase 1 go-live?
  • What is their job function/process in PLM?
  • What training do they need to get started?
  • How can I group like-users together to deliver training in the most efficient manner?
  • Ensure that the training is based on a training “instance” of the completed PLM system, with your specific configuration and data. Training on a system that is as close as possible to your real system is essential.
  • When do I need to deliver training in order to be ready for the go-live date?
  • How will I support my end users internally after go-live?

Arena: Talk about system and data validation.

Sullivan: The PLM vendor should drive the actual configuration and data migration of your system.  You, in turn, need to ensure that the configuration and data they deliver is accurate and completed. Have a plan to review and test the system and data at key points scheduled in the project plan. This should include selecting key product sets and checking the data in PLM against the source data you provided. Carefully check all aspects of the selected data set against the source. Document any discrepancies and questions and communicate to the PLM vendor. This goes for testing processes as well, which relies on how PLM is configured.

If you missed part one of my interview with Mike, you can get his key best practices for PLM implementations here. Arena PLM implementation is easy – not scary. You won’t see our customers locking the door and hiding under the bed. Nope. You’ll see them giggling as they ship their products to market fast. Faster than their competition.