Let’s consider the abbreviation PLM for a few moments. As most of us are aware, those letters stand for Product Lifecycle Management. I’ve always been a big believer that this isn’t an ugly complex concept to grasp.
It’s about a product and the development of it. It’s about the lifecycle of a product – from conceptualisation and requirements capture, through engineering, manufacturing, into service and eventually, retirement and disposal. And of course, then it’s about managing all of that and ensuring that the whole thing connects up and feeds into the next project. Simple… right?
Now, considering the all encompassing nature of the concept, it’s perhaps a little odd that this type of system is often hidden away and locked down behind a corporate firewall. Yes, the content of it represents a company’s intellectual property (often, in its entirety) and you don’t want that getting into the wrong hands (namely, those of your competitors). But how much is the average company restricting its efficiency simple because of this lock in?
It’s no wonder that many smaller scale start-ups can outperform and out manoeuvre the slower moving giants – step into a start-up or smaller scale organisation and you’ll find one that places greater stock in efficiency and quick decision making than protectionism and welded down workflows and data access. You’ll probably also find an organisation that’s running things on the cloud.
If you take a step back and if needs be, put security concerns aside, the combination of the cloud and PLM makes perfect sense. PLM finds its strength in organisations where there are a greater number of participants in the design to engineering to manufacturing process.
I’m not talking about design by committee (and no-one wants a camel instead of a horse). I’m talking about allowing those that need access to not only the data, but also the workflows, processes, and business interactions that get you to that horse. More often than not these days, those folks are out on the road, working in different locations, or working at external organisations. What they’re not is sat in front of a beige workstation in cubicle number 48, clicking yes or no to approve another engineering change order.
They’re typically working on the go, often relying on mobile devices, often working to bring in new business or to make existing relationships work more efficiently (and the same is as true of the design department as it is of the folks in marketing, in purchasing, or in customer relations and servicing). Should their interaction be limited to time spent connected to the corporate network or should they be able to jump onto their smart phone or iPad or Surface Pro and get their jobs done?
Surely a better approach is to have them jump on, look up the information they need, make their decisions, and feedback into the process – quickly and efficiently and in a highly connected manner. That’s what the cloud brings to PLM.
[Ed. Besides the overall convenience to on-the-go product development teams, Cloud PLM can also require fewer IT resources, lower costs, and less deployment effort overall. Learn more about what’s possible with PTC PLM Cloud below.]