This is once again a post about the endless discussion “what is the limit of PLM?” and I don’t think the discussion will end today mainly because I don’t have a scientific formula which would have, as an input, your requirements, and would output a boolean which would say: true this is PLM or False it’s not! So I’m trying here to just discussed what may not be the real frontier of PLM and what information may be considered instead.
Data management processes more than company departments
Every time PLM limits are discussed, the frontier are based on companies department. One of the most recurring question is “should this department get to use our PLM software?”. And this maintains the strong separations between these departments. Also between business/engineering fields. Get into an R&D department packed with mechanical CAD designers, everyone will know about PLM. Get inside another R&D department in an Electronic & High tech company. I’m not so sure that so many people would know about PLM. In many cases with Aras Innovator we don’t start with parts & BOMs. We manage other stuff, tests, change, projects, deliverables, sometimes just processes and yes we still believe we are delivering a solution for PLM. And yes I turn this sentence this way on purpose because Aras Innovator allows us to provide a solution for each company’s product lifecycle management.
Capitalizing an IP
This is always one of the first item that comes to my mind when I discuss PLM limits with others. Very often it is to differentiate the difference between ERP and PLM. To me the fundamental difference is that the ERP should track the execution of things in the company with almost always an accounting equivalent to every movement/consumption. Whereas the PLM intends to build value, to capitalize the IP that exist in the product definition, changes, experiences,etc.
This is another aspect of PLM solutions and it is one of the best selling point when you have a technology that allows you to be flexible with it. Companies want to standardize and automate some decision process in the product management area. And on this topic we can have the same communication as a BPM solution editor would provide. Many PLM solutions are containing a BPM engine in order to produce workflows and lifecycles. On this one I wouldn’t put any limit between ERP and PLM. I think BPM, is a tool that can be common to both tools.
data & integration
I think the limits between ERP and PLM are maintained by editors and customers. Potentially today, you have one interface for PLM and another for ERP. Why don’t you have just one interface which send data to both systems if they need to have separated back-ends? To me, with the enhancement of integration solutions like most ETL, we may start having more integration between systems and the limit between PLM and ERP, will just be a data management issue for IT departments and not for the users. If you have been on our former Minerva France website, we had a drawing representing modules of ERP and PLM where some modules could be common to both. here it is: (sorry I will update this post when I’ll have it in English)