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Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Recently, a guy I know needed to buy a new family car for him, his wife, his two children and their dog. His wife was incredibly busy, so he went out to the showroom to evaluate some options by himself… and came home with a Porsche Boxster.
“What on earth is that!?” asked his wife.
“The best car I could find for our budget” he replied. “The car salesman said it was a great deal!”
“And can you use it for the school run? Or the camping trip we have planned? Or keeping our fuel costs under control?”
“Well, no,” he said sheepishly. “But it CAN go from 0-60 in under 5 seconds.”
“Great. Well, I’m sure that comes in handy in the traffic jam on the way to work,” she replied. The thing is, my friend was kind of right.
The Porsche Boxster is an amazing car – just not when it came to the functions he needed it for. He got so caught up in the impressive technical details that he forgot what he needed the car to do in the first place.
If you’re looking to invest in a product lifecycle management platform, you might be in the same boat (or Porsche) as him. It’s way too easy to get bogged down in technical jargon, comparing obscure details between competing products and fixating on things that are impressive but you’ll likely never use – while all the time losing sight of the big-picture factors that truly make one system more valuable to your business than another.
In this article, we’ll help you cut through all that noise, honing in on the crucial questions you should ask when seeking out the perfect PLM partner. Let’s get started.
It’s important to keep in mind that the biggest benefit of using PLM technology is that you can streamline the whole process of designing, developing, manufacturing and refining your product. You get to run the entire operation from one place, without chopping and changing between programs or providers.
It stands to reason, then, that your software should cover every stage of this journey, from CAD design to production planning and tweaking future iterations of your product. Look out for options that include virtual manufacturing and lifelike simulations, giving you a realistic picture of how your product will come to life. The best providers will offer a 3D, 360-degree view of your complete project, from idea conceptualization phase to sale. All on a single platform.
It is so, so important that you work with someone who understands your unique business context and needs. Yes, they need technical expertise, but that on its own isn’t enough.
They need to “get” your sector – how it operates, what the challenges are, how this feeds into the way you bring products to market.
Only then will they be able to build a truly customizable solution that reflects and supports this. Make sure your PLM partner is clued up on your business and your market, whatever and wherever in the world you plan to sell. Look out for a company with comprehensive experience supporting customers across a broad range of industries, including large-scale and Fortune 500 companies. Working with a partner that operates all over the world is another big plus.
We’ve all been in situations where a charming and attentive salesperson promises the Earth but goes quiet the moment the cheque clears. That kind of disappearing act is not going to cut it with PLM.
To get the most out of your PLM platform, you’ll need support, advice and guidance that stretches far beyond the initial sale. That means your PLM partner must be prepared to help you implement, upgrade and manage your system, and be on hand to assist with software updates and process changes for years to come.
The best PLM companies on the market have teams of consultants and experts on call for this very purpose, ensuring that your experience of using the technology remains smooth and cost-effective well into the future.
To get real value out of your PLM platform, you need to get your team to the point where using it becomes second nature to them. It should become part of your workplace culture; the go-to software for all things related to the product development cycle. This is a lot easier to achieve if your PLM is part of a wider, well-integrated suite of products that support all your tasks and goals.
For example, many of our customers make use of tools like Q-Checker and CAVA to analyze their designs, as well as specific add-ons that boost productivity, system performance and user adoption rate. These have all been created to work hand-in-hand, making for a smooth, consistent user experience that improves collaboration and efficiency, too.
It’s also important to make sure your PLM works well with your existing infrastructure, such as your ERP. Doing so will clear up configurability headaches and may well reduce your total cost of ownership in the long run.
We can’t stress enough how crucial a role onboarding and training plays in getting full value out of any new platform or technology you introduce to your organization. Working with a partner that understands this will dramatically speed up the time it takes for you to implement your PLM, figure out how best to use it in your business and start seeing results.
Look out for a PLM provider that offers flexible e-learning and classroom-based training options to suit your team. Ideally, they should be a Dassault Systémes Certified Education Partner, with trainers and instructors who are fully CATIA certified or highly experienced ENOVIA consultants.
Ultimately, choosing a PLM platform that will add serious value to your organization boils down to one thing: Is the company a provider, or a partner?
There are a lot of PLM technologies on the market and a lot of these are excellent products. The problem is that, in order to get the most out of these products, you need more than someone to sell them to you. You need someone that can see the bigger picture – what you are trying to achieve on a strategic level, and how your PLM can best be leveraged to help you get there.
In other words, you need a true PLM partner, not only a product provider. Someone who listens to what you need and helps you figure out a solution instead of trying to sell you a load of flashy add-ons you don’t need. That way, you drive away with something that gets your business where it needs to be… not something that gets the reaction, “What on earth is that?!”