Developing an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy

Written by: Sarah Sherard

Read Time: 3:30

When an engineer makes a change to a design in whatever tool they are using, that change can be shared with and viewed by other engineers that have access to that tool, but what about those who don’t have access to the tool or knowledge of how to use it?  How do those in manufacturing, quality, service, & the supply chain find out about this change? How long will it take for them to learn about it and how much productivity is at risk from them working with the old data? This siloing of data prevents many manufacturing organizations from fully collaborating. With a global distribution of teams, siloed systems, and complex data to communicate, enterprise collaboration can appear impossible. If these challenges seem familiar, the good news is there’s a solution: PLM

What is enterprise collaboration? 

Enterprise collaboration is a powerful PLM capability that enables people across the product lifecycle—and across the globe—to access, contribute, and view product data through real-time connectivity. By breaking down silos with PLM, you can empower your entire workforce—and extended value chain—to work together more easily and efficiently. This liberation of actionable data can be your launchpad for ramping up product quality while trimming costs and reducing production time. For companies with myriad teams along the value chain, this solution can be a game-changer.

How do you develop an enterprise collaboration strategy?

Despite these clear benefits, it may seem overwhelming to introduce new technology and processes to your organization. Having an effective strategy is key for success. While every company has different needs and goals, here is a general foundation for a productive enterprise collaboration strategy: 

  1. Identify the biggest pain points and needs of your current product development software. Are siloed systems preventing users from finding what they need? Are teams creating workarounds (making calls that do not capture information, asking others to pull reports, etc.) that either use up time or result in inaccurate information? Once these pain points are identified, you can create a clear goal for everyone.
  2. Evaluate technology solutions carefully. It is important to choose a system that’s easy for everyone to understand and use. These collaboration systems are meant to simplify things, not complicate them. Expanding accessibility to a broader set of stakeholders adds importance to this step. 
  3. Develop an implementation plan. This includes ensuring that your workforce is informed and trained on the system and guided through any questions and concerns. Users need to trust the system if you want to maximize the benefits. 
  4. Monitor results and adjust accordingly. It’s crucial to measure how product development changes after you implement the technology and if any prior shortcomings are shrinking. Keeping markers on your goals makes analyzing and addressing the root-causes of potential problems easier. 

What are the benefits of enterprise collaboration?

Enterprise collaboration can deliver a breadth of benefits to manufacturers including increased productivity and self-service access to accurate product data. From production planners and service technicians to quality engineers and supply chain partners, everyone can experience advantages from the collaboration effort. Some of the other benefits include:

Efficiency: By streamlining communication, manufacturers can improve and accelerate their product development lifecycle. Everyone in the organization can see, access, and contribute to their relevant processes. This means faster decision-making, turnaround, and time to market. EnerSys embraced enterprise collaboration to cut down iterations and redundant discussions between manufacturing and engineering teams after unifying their bill of materials (BOM).

Quality: Immediate access to accurate data directly supports improved product quality. If an issue is found, the problem can be submitted to a quality engineer on the spot. Companies like HP realized improved quality in both their process and product after standardizing and digitizing process and data management.

Cost savings: When people can’t collaborate productively, the costs of errors and delays can add up. Enterprise collaboration prevents these costs by enabling real-time, cross-functional interaction, which allows for issues to be caught early in the process. After engineering firm Bosch Rexroth implemented an open collaboration platform across 65 global locations, they experienced multi-million euros in cost savings annually. They also realized additional savings through eliminating data duplication. 

Enable collaboration while protecting data

One of the biggest concerns manufacturers have with accessible collaboration is security. If everyone has access to product data, how can you ensure your IP is protected? PTC’s ThingWorx Navigate provides secure access to PLM content through simplified role- and task-based apps, enabling a seamless, fast, and secure experience between all stakeholders. Along with the security, ThingWorx Navigate enables collaboration across the entire product development process, delivering only what is needed for that task or role. There are three main categories of out-of-the-box applications within the platform: for viewing PLM information, for active PLM process participation, and for connecting to third-party systems. These categories enable a contextualized democratization of data and speed of adoption, allowing for real-time data collaboration without any confusion.

Which enterprise collaboration app should you use?

The right platform is key to simplifying and extending collaboration. ThingWorx Navigate is designed to allow stakeholders to see, access, and contribute to PLM processes using a single authoritative source of product data along the product lifecycle. This ensures all work is adding value, and boosts quality, and time-savings—without adding process complexity. 


Real-Time Data Access

Taking the digital thread from concept to reality READ THE EBOOK
Tags: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Navigate Digital Thread

About the Author

Sarah Sherard

Sarah is a Marketing Content Specialist on PTC’s Commercial Marketing team. Her mission is to create intriguing, informational content that supports PTC’s product and service offerings.