My approach to the ERP-PLM integration is almost the opposite. From many years of analyzing the needs of both systems I have come to the following conclusions:
1. The needs of PLM systems and ERP systems are very different. The entities in the organization which use the systems are completely different too. The conclusion is that agreeing on a combined data model which will fit both is almost impossible, and will consume more time and development efforts than going back to the basic approach.
2. The use of integration tools, middlewares and connectors is a complete waste of time. Not only that you need to set up 2 complex systems (ERP & PLM) – You now need to set up a 3’rd system such as BizTalk or WebSphere which also cost a lot of money and take forever to set-up with attribute and class mappings.
3. My approach – The only way that I found this to work is the old way. Once the ERP and PLM systems are in place (in terms of data model) – Use files (flat files or XML files), or SQL stored procedures to replicate data from one system to the other.
If we take files for example which we use to exchange data – Writing a small app to login to the system, query the information and write it to XML files with proper monitoring of data integrity and completeness of the operations, is a fairly easy task, and more importantly – This application is easily re-usable with only little modifications.
To me – This solution, although not very “sophisticated” represents the fastest, easiest to set-up and requires the least amount of efforts from all sides.
These are my 2 cents..
Thanks for your comment. You’re right regarding actual available softwares and I would do pretty much the same things as you do with the actual tools I could have in my hands. My article is more talking about how it should be. Will it be in 2,5, 10 years? I don’t know, i just see it as the right way of making it work. When a car is shipped it is definitely related to ERP, PLM, CRM data etc… so why not having a single point of truth (the Car) for these systems. I think MDM will have an important role on that and it comes at the right time with cloud technologies. I’ll try to spend some time on Talend MDM product to see how it could help this process (http://www.talend.com/master-data-management/talend-mdm.php)
PS: how is the European Amazon EC2 cloud connection from Israel?
I agree with Sagi, the simplest solution is usually the most elegant, robust, and many times the only one that ever works. I have watched many customers invest 100s of man-days of development using heavy integration tools… when a simple data extract and import would move a BOM equally well. Any modern architecture PLM and ERP system includes a simple API for exporting and importing data. My 2 cents – always try the simple approach first !
Thanks Peter for your comment.
Once again, the goal of this article is to say that I think this is the way it should be done if the technology was enough flexible and sustainable to allow it. I think if we combine the use of MDM concepts and a better use of standards we could go further on this enterprise software integration.
My fear is that because of a lack of good technologies, we use alternative solutions and we forget to come back at the best concept when technology make it possible to be implemented.
So yes, let’s use clear flat files (csv and xml) but make sure we keep in mind that all this should one day be integrated in a better way.