This Tuesday I attended my first FailCon at Microsoft in Paris. As it says in its presentation “FailCon is a one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success”. You won’t see much videos on the web about it as it is a place where companies will share their failure and its obviously not always easy for companies to associate their brand with the word “failure”. You’ll get more information on their website. The concept of talking about failure is interesting. It tells to people, it’s ok to meet failure as long as you learn from your failures and improve then. These conference also aims to create awareness about each failure and help entrepreneurs to not reproduce these.
PLM is definitely a world with a lot of failure
There’s no more secret about it, a lot of projects are out of budget. They are far from initial expectations and they usually cover a lot less than the initial “dream scope”. We know on a technology level it is quite complicated to do a very adaptive system that is flexible with ease to fullfil customers evolutive requirements. And there is a lot also to criticize on a methodology level for integrators.
Have been in PLM conferences? who is talking about failure?
I haven’t been in many PLM conferences out of Aras and the french association PLMLab. But I’ve red a lot of report on others and followed twitter feeds during conferences. So I’m potentially wrong on that statement and If so please correct me but it feels like PLM conferences are like Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes there are some criticism but it’s never to strong on editors or integrators and we don’t see have more investigation on the root cause of the project’s failures. During the last Aras Internation ACE Event, the first day was for tech people and people implementing the solution on customer site and we were able to talk about failures. I would recommand that we have a very specific time slot next year at ACE2012 were we talk about project failures during that period. Let’s be honest, as good as software can be, as long as you have human interactions there are failure. And so far I ‘ve never been a PLM solution installed itself.
What would be the ideal setup?
Out of an editor’s tech meeting, how could be run such conference? I would like editors to explain the failure they’ve made in the past on terms of techonology choices and how they pivoted. Same thing for integrators there should be some presentation about failures and recoveries. And also one from customers explaining why they potentially under estimated the cost and the complexity of a PLM solution implementation. Do you think such conference could exist?
It doesn’t take much time for our customer to get back to us after a few days on a live system (yes it is allowed, and I would say, recommended to start on production with your PLM solution without reporting built yet). So our first answer is “yes, tell us what you’re looking for and please check with your colleagues that you need the same views”. It’s pretty usual to have to wait quite a while after asking this to get a clear view. Most of the time it’s us going back to them for this topic. Main reason is that everybody want different views. And this is not just for PLM this is true for a lot of domains. That’s why dashboard technologies are very trendy. This lets the users build their own reports.
Aras Innovator has this great thing for us, it is that they, so far, only run their solution with Microsoft SQL server. So when talking about reporting we can benefit from Microsoft reporting tools. And as we get more companies in production we are working on delivering these features for them. We train ourselves on these technologies and we advise them on how to configure these. Here are the few videos that inspired our customers to go in that direction.
Finally if you have much more time, here is a tech day video about both products:
So this is just an update on what we are working in terms of dashboard and we would be happy to learn about your experiences also around BI and Microsoft reporting solutions. We will definitely share are experiences as soon as we have something to make a video out of.How did it go for you?
This has been a frustration for a while now for me in PLM projects implementation. Mainly during the first phase or even before selling the project. We spend a lot of time on specifying and re-specifying engineering processes regarding product management made of complex datasets while other department can have much simpler processes which would definitely benefit from a good PLM project. Having some people helping them to work in a better way to collaborate on product information. And more generally, having people to tell them what is PLM.
More enthusiast about PLM but less aware about its existence
When I talk about PLM in a company, these departments are the more enthousiast about it. They know the spreadsheet exchange problems with customers, the poor naming conventions created for the internal network… They know something needs to be done, but most of the solution advertising they get comes from document management systems, storage systems, collaboration systems. Most of these solutions are sold to fix an issue with a small scope (exchanging documents, saving versions, …). To get all your issues fixed you need these solution to be very well integrated. The projects should start with a larger view but still fixing issues by small batches as presented in our lean implementation process.
Getting live faster makes PLM projects more interactive = Better user acceptance
This is a fact about these departments. Start you implementation’s phase 1 out of engineering and you’ll get live much faster. These people need integrated systems and their processes are more stable then in engineering. We know that in engineering you can have very different software acceptance from one to another. You need then to have people in the company that are already supporting the project. The risk is of course to not take into account the software capabilities to support Engineer’s processes. And that’s where it is good to have IT people coming from Engineering to select the solution.
So if you are a PLM sponsor in your company, get people out of engineering involved and aware about PLM. You’ll create a real enthusiasm.
If you have been following me for a while you should know that I’m a big supporter of having the IT people involved in the plm solution selection process. This is not always the case and 99% of the times they are not in this process, it is for bad reasons. If I compare it to buying a car. When I’m buying a car there are two major things I want to know. The first one is about how I will like this car in terms of features, look, speed,… The second one is about what this car will cost me. And today this takes a very big importance in my selection criteria. In need to know how expensives are replacement parts, how much gas it consumes, how much maintenance it needs… How do I know that? I have magazines which are independant (more or less) from car manufacturers, I’ve got reviews on the web and maybe other sources like a mechanic or a garage manager. What is the equivalent for PLM for these tech long term cost? Magasines? I don’t know any independant magasine doing nice test drive article instead of just publishing editor’s Press release. Reviews? are companies allowed to tell publically how they are pissed about a solution? Sometimes yes, but not easy to find. Then I need a specialist ! But strangely, sometimes, they are not the best help. let’s see the pros and cons.
Get them to ask the right questions
Many questions are potentially out of your scope like : “what database system does it use?”, “how much bandwith it requires”, “how much server ressources you need?”, “how much effort it takes to customize?”… Answers to these questions will have big impact on the cost and flexibility of your PLM Solution.
Ask them to have a test-drive of the software
Mainly about customisation, flexibility and ease of upgrades, you should have them testing the software, feeling the technology and letting you know if this last version of the solution is a real new technology or is it just a new stylesheet that makes it look better.
Benefit from their network to get more information on the solutions
IT people know what’s working and what’s not working in other companies, they can get information about cost of implementation. Ask them to get this data from other companies.
Involve them in the selection process
In all the criteria you will have to select a solution, you need to have some for IT related items and they should be filling these informations.
Most of the times you won’t have cons. The main issue I’ve faced is IT poeple who want to do all by themselves. Ask companies, they all went through this, when the software offer seems to expensive, you develop in-house and a few years later, cost increase to maintain and upgrade your solutions. So I would say 99% of the time. Have IT people to give you technological advices.