Document Management can’t exist by itself…

Posted on August 21, 2012

…Unless your product is documentation and in this case your document management system is your PLM. This is a very usual question which we either get from our customers or which we have to solve when we implement a PLM solution in an environment that already contains a Document Management System. Many companies compare our features with the ones provided by their document management system.

Capture the main focus of the company…

What is a document management system? Wikipedia gives the following definition “A document management system (DMS) is a computer system (or set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents”. These solutions like Alfresco, Nuxeo, and many other popular solution are offering a lot of opportunities to manage electronic content in the company. But everytime I face this question about these software, I ask the prospect: “what is the main focus of your company? what is the common item that everybody is working for?”. Answer is: your product. Your product can be services, manufactured goods and also as previously said documentation and in this particular case you might not be so wrong about having a DMS in place for your PLM strategy.

…and allow the whole company to be involved in your PLM strategy

So this is to me the most important thing which is also part of most discussion about “what is PLM”. Back to our first stop-motion video about this topic, we were clearly saying that everybody was potentially related to the PLM startegy as long as your were in some way interacting with the product related informations. Some example:

– HR will need to know from the product developments if in 10 month we might move to a product that requires much more soldering manufacturing steps. They will then be able to book trainings and make sure they have the competencies on time.

– Purchasing is definitely impacted with PLM to manage the suppliers relationship

– Quality needs to have their reporting looking at all the data from the PLM.

– …

With these statement it would be much more difficult to get people around a same document management system implementation project. They all build different documentations with many processes while at the same time everybody is working for a same goal. the success of the company delivering its product.


Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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  • ca9720

    Yoann… you should be more specific when stating “Starting a PLM project without Engineering”…  On a broad scale that would be like trying to fly a plane without an engine..  Engineering is the creator of all the information that is passed onto the other parts of the business from Specifications, Drawings.. Bill of Materials…  I have no idea where you are coming from.. .

    • Hi,
      Yes you’re right I should explain a bit more on my background. I’ve been a process engineer at Rakon (manufacturing OCXOs) and at SAGEM (manufacturing Inertial Navigation Unit), plus I’ve been working on SAP at Accenture. 
      If no system were in place, for example you would create your company and need to start with a PLM on day 1, then yes perhaps it’s better to start with engineering than any other departement. But now we’re mainly talking about companies with existing data and an existing system to manage all this. Why is it so important to start with engineering? Lots of consultant say it. Large investment wouldn’t be made as R&D is THE one place where you can justify such cost. As a process engineer, I would wait for month if not years before getting a PLM to help me because the R&D is struggling on CAD integration even if I could already benefit from a lot of information which is not in the CAD software. I was exchanging a lot of information with purchasing and Sales with no need from CAD or PDM. But still I would need to wait for Engineering to be deployed before getting these tools.
      I’m not saying Engineering has to be out of the scope. I’m saying that other departments need PLM. Why should we wait for engineering to be deployed? And then it’s mainly a deployment strategy to get people out of engineering aware about PLM. They could be a lot more then engineer and then you would have more people focusing on product information sharing.
      Just my thoughts !

      • ca9720

        I have worked in the consumer manufacturing industry for about 25 years. Personally everything you talked about would be a derivative of the engineering data… Sales on what? The engineering product. Forecast on what? The engineered product. Bottom line is companies need to put more effort into getting the foundation (Engineering Data) set up properly. If you come at this from another angle you have disconnected information. If you could witness the enormous benefit of the PTC PLM system we had in place that touched 13 design centers and over 30 businesses around the world you would have a better understanding. Yes it was hard work and it was well worth it. For the first time in the history of this Fortune 500 company they had concurrent engineering around the world and all business units were invited to associate Sales/Forcast/Planning documents with the foundation (Engineering) documents.

        • And that is a great example of the fact that it can work very well by starting from Engineering. The thing is, before starting to implement a PLM solution, you have lots of departments using spreadsheets and disconnected databases. What would be wrong about starting to replace these systems managing product related information, by a PLM solution? My fear usually is that only engineering hears about PLM. Can you give a brief insight on how the PLM awareness was spread inside the company within for the project you mentionned?

          • ca9720

            If you fully understand how PTC Windchill works everything is linked or associated to a WTpart. This is an object. So the CAD data and spec sheets and all pertenent information is connected to these WTparts… It would create a tremendous amount of work to implement without auto associating the 3D data to these WTpart items in the begining. This will build associations and structure. This structure can be imported into SAP orintegrated using a tool like ESI which can create a bi-directional or one direction push of data. The problem with starting at the wrong side of the business, I compare to trying to build the roof before you set the foundation on a house.

          • This article does not mention any PLM software. Then it seems like the one you present does not allow to start without the parts in it. And I’m glad you changed your metaphor as did not start to build planes from the engine.
            Back to where it should be started, if you use standards, you should be able to start from anywhere and then to start connecting each departments as needed. 
            Just like this building :

          • ca9720

            I have worked for and with at least 30 discrete manufacturing companies. The best example is building a house… Digging and pouring the footing takes the most planning and prep. This is because it is the most critical part to the house. Just because it is difficult you don’t start with the roof. Trust me I have implemented PLM systems many times along side major corporations with contacts from other major manufacturing corporations that I assisted. Your concept could work in an environment that has less complicated products….

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