Pros and Cons in involving IT in PLM software selection

Posted on September 13, 2012

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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

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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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  • Yoann hello – Not sure if I agree with you on the same base. I think PLM selection should be driven by business people and IT should assist in building the business case based on their IT strategy.

    Too often I have seen IT does not see the real needs for PLM and consider PLM as an extension to engineering, so why not use the PLM module from our ERP vendor ? Or as we are a microsoft fiendly company the system should run on SQLserver and use sharepoint.

    Coming to your comparision of the car,  might need for my business a small and flexible car, but as IT standardizes on large russian automobiles, it will get the car I cannot use as expected (but have a low cost of ownership)

    I think we agree on their involvement as they might provide knowledge and experience to the selection process, but don’t let them set the boundaries (which unfortunate often happens as they ar the IT )

    • Hi Jos,

      Well, I haven’t said that IT should drive, I’ve said they should be involved. But yes they should have quite a good power. You know most software editors in the PLM industry use either old technology or some kind of mash-up of their various latest product acquisition. And without a doubt, the three main vendors are mostly relying on their CAD systems. Even if some of them are good for multicad management. The difference of such offer compared to a solution that would have been made recently from A to Z by a single company can be hudge in term of technology and performance. Problem is, when Business is the leader without IT involved, they would buy a software based on Powerpoints or well-prepared software presentation where they’d be driven through the perfect flow.
      And that’s where I disagree when you say IT standardizes on large russian automobiles. If you need a small car they should scale the answer to your needs. If not, it means they are wrong and it’s the few percentages of companies where IT shouldn’t be involved because they’re just not good enough!
      So yes we agree on their involvment ( I would still provide them with a strong decisionnal weight).

  • This is a great article regarding PLM solution selection process. Those who are currently having to choose the same will surely find these insights helpful. Thanks for sharing.

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