Strategic Alignment

Strategic Alignment
Companies that experience the best results with their PLM programs are much more likely than others to have business leaders drive the initiative, use detailed implementation roadmaps that link business objectives to process improvements and ensure accountability with program scorecards.
Few people would dispute that building cross-organizational alignment is essential to any complex solution initiative. But it is the depth and breadth of that alignment that truly matter. There must be clear understanding and agreement across all key stakeholders on:
  • Key business objectives
  • The sequencing and implications of a phased implementation program
  • Detailed alignment of business need with technical feasibility
  • Clear accountability for program governance and decision-making
Three guiding principles are at the heart of an effective approach to strategic alignment:

  • A cross-organizational approach to identify the business value to be achieved through process transformation
  • A roadmap for deploying technology solutions to transform processes and realize business value
  • A decision and oversight process to ensure the program stays on track to reach business value goals


Process-Based Solutions

Process-Based Solutions
Companies that achieve the most successful PLM implementations focus first on process improvements, and then on technology capabilities that can support those improvements. Which processes have the greatest impact on top- and bottom-line results? Where is the greatest opportunity for standardization and improvement? Where are the greatest gaps between current process and industry best practice? Process improvement drives the functionality of the implemented solution, not the other way around.

The most effective approach to solution design emphasizes three principles:
  • Don't try to change everything at once. Identify the most important opportunities for process improvement first and focus on moving those toward industry best practice
  • Ensure that technology can indeed support the necessary process change. Pressure test the technology to avoid unworkable solutions
  • Tie process change directly to business value and organizational constraints. Implement changes in ways that minimize operational disruption and maximize short- and long-term value


Off-the-Shelf Configuration

Off-the-Shelf Configuration
Deploying off-the-shelf technology is commonly desired but rarely achieved in full with complex enterprise solutions like PLM. As organizations and their needs grow and change, however, they typically layer their information technology systems and processes with custom code and procedures. Excessive customization creates systems that are slower to deploy, more expensive to maintain and less flexible when it is necessary to upgrade or integrate new functionality.

An important key to successful PLM programs is to minimize customization and instead configure the existing capabilities of the PLM software. Clearly this requires software that has the necessary capabilities built in; it also requires implementation teams with deep understanding of the best ways to configure built-in capabilities to optimize essential business processes.


Role-Based Adoption and Training

Role-Based Adoption and Training
The best-designed solutions accomplish little if users fail to accept, learn and integrate the new processes and tools into their work. The importance of training is well understood but the reality is that companies often under-invest in organizational learning and adoption. High performers with PLM and similar solutions take a strategic, role-based approach to adoption and invest in a comprehensive program that goes far beyond the basics of training for new software features and functions.

The most effective learning and adoption programs include four critical components:

  • Detailed planning for a comprehensive program that covers the entire organization, from initial solution design through ongoing support. Support continues well beyond the “go-live” date of the new solution
  • Strategic communications to build awareness and understanding of program goals, implementation, value and required organizational changes
  • Customized training for different functional roles and responsibilities based on process change and desired outcomes
  • Ongoing support, often including online tools as well as live mentoring and coaching, to ensure full adoption of new processes and tools