Some thoughts about being a PLM Manager…

Posted on October 16, 2013

This is going to be a small but quite arrogant article as I have never “officially” been a PLM manager in a company. I feel like I have covered some of the product lifecycle during my first job as a Process Manager for Rakon and through my experiences in some IT companies and in the PLM environment at Minerva, I constantly think about the role of a good and productive PLM Manager.

The Target

I am not going to make a demonstration, I will just propose a target which can be discussed and commented as It’s mainly an opinion as of today. For me one of the PLM manager’s target is to enhance the productivity of managing the right information at the right moment. Some may say that the aim is to be faster on handling or producing some information, let’s just assume that time is money and resume it as: a PLM manager’s role is to enhance the productivity to manage the right data at the right moment. I initially wrote cost and then I replaced it by productivity as you may increase your investment if the ROI is validated.

Who needs which information

This is something you should constantly think about as a PLM manager. Why does this person produces such information. And this is something you can notice in every process in the company. Sometimes to be more performant, you need to take some risk, let’ talk about documentation. How much documentation produced everyday will never be read in your company? We produce tons of information which might never be reused. Each data as a probability of being used. The PLM manager will have to determine the ROI of each kind of documentation and may discourage someones to produce such information. This is completely related to the Lean concepts already discussed in this blog which should be taken into account as a PLM Manager.

Selecting the technology

And on this one I’m not saying selecting a software. Understanding and selecting the technology is key and this should be really understood by both the PLM manager and the buyer working with him to acquire IT solutions. Some technology solutions will be key for the success of his job and you can’t blame the IT supplier or the software editor. You are the responsible of these decisions in the company (unless, someone tells you to select one solution, but in this case you cannot claim that you are the PLM manager).

What’s the difference with another IT manager

And that’s a good question. Because I think there are some overlaps if the IT manager was close to the business. But I think the difference is in the first or main interest the PLM manager has. He should look at every person, every department in the company and wonder what is the value added by each person and work on reducing the non-productive time spent by these people.

These are just some thoughts, what do you think should be added to this job description???



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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  • MenkSlot

    Do you think PLM Manager is an IT role, or should it be part of the Business.
    I see a lot of PLM implementations driven by IT. I believe IT has an important role, but not the major role. In those cases the PLM implementation can be to far from the real business

    • Hi,
      That’s a very good point. I think it’s like a lot of jobs in a company where it’s easier as soon as you are competent in more than one area. Let’s take a project manager in a R&D department, can he be a good manager without knowing much about what he is managing? Yes he can, but he’ll have to really trust the others.
      For PLM the risk is on the split between business & IT and who will lead the change management. What I see when these two roles are splitted is more difficulties in the change management for end-users. The business represent the users and have requirements to IT. IT works with these requirements to create a new requirement list to software editors and integrators. Many times there is a lack of interaction between IT and users. Business over promess, and IT can’t follow. The best projects I’ve seen where when the PLM manager was an engineer who can understand all the requirements and understand the user’s pains and at the same time this person was able to understand the software, make good decision on technology and explain to the users why they would not have some features and why it would still be an enhancement for their daily work.

      Thanks for your comment !

      • The person who has expertise in both domains is rare, and as the systems have become more complicated the number of individuals who can effectively execute on their own in such a challenging role has declined. I think to move forward in the future, PLM software has to evolve beyond its strict dependence on IT.

        • Yes Ed, and you’re right about expecting something from the PLM software on that topic because that’s where I think something has to change and it comes back to a very old article I wrote about having more splits in the PLM software selection, a smaller granularity for PLM managers and IT admins to select the right combination and not just one full pack. I’ve made a serie of article which were in French. I think I’m going to translate these to english as it is still a current topic. Here was the blocks defined in this PLM IT environnement :×694.png

  • jan takke

    I very much like the perspective from most of your posts: not (mainly) from what your (Aras) Solution can do (at this moment) but from what the users need to do and how you can help them to do just that (in a lean way, without too much bells and whistles;-).
    For me the essential part in your blog is about “who needs what information”. I’ve been thinking about that quite a lot and have developed the following Concept, not only for “pulling” PDM Deployments but, more important still, for the actual use of PLM as an “information exchange” between the Consumers of such info and the Providers of the same. The principle of the Concept is very much like the popular “Service Level Agreements” but in this case should rather focus on the “Information Level Agreement”, in short ILA.
    This ILA could serve some purposes:
    -specification of desired output of a PLM System (what info, needed by whom, needed by when, provided by whom, penalty if not made available in time, etc.).
    Info would include the level of detail (or granularity) and structure (relations to other info), needed/provided by whom could also establish who is willing to pay for this particular piece of info or pay the charges for not delivering it in time.
    -during deployment the ILA would make clear who is to be contacted in case of unclarity about responsibilities for data-availabilty and data-quality.
    -on an organisational level the existence of an ILA concept could serve to streamline the ongoing discussion about questions like: who is responsible (business or IT), who is the user (consumer or provider), who is providing the budget (enterprise-central or local-departmental) and more questins like these haunting us for some decennia.
    It would be very helpful if a PLM Solution would include the required functionality for the ILA dialogue between Users (both consumers and providers if info) and to exercise this functional piece before the actual filling of the PLM database even begins (I know this is theory but one can always try 😉

    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for the comment, and you’re right, this is an important aspect of PLM I’m trying to get back to quite often. Following the reading of your comment I was thinking about an activity in a company or just one departement of it. The activity would be to ask everyone to list the information they need in order to be able to do their job and when they need it. Then you compare the results of similar jobs and you refine by challenging people on why they really need these informations. Then on the next day, you ask them the information they produce. It would be nice to see how it fits, where are the gaps. Are they based on the content or on the timing.
      That would be an interesting pure PLM consulting activity.
      Thanks again for the feedback, this information pulling idea is key for PLM.

  • Yoann, I’d add three qualities that makes this role so difficult to fill: compassion, vision, and diplomacy. Compassion in that these systems must be used by humans, and you’re directly impacting the nature of other people’s jobs. Vision in that understanding the next step or the next step after that isn’t always readily quantifiable. And finally diplomacy in that any unifying initiative will undoubted be met with resistance, either based on reason or emotion.

    • Hi Ed,
      You’re right, I have not so much covered the human relationships aspect of being a PLM manager. Speaking of diplomacy, I see multiple PLM manager and it’s not always abvious that the most diplomat is the one that is producing the most enhancement in the PLM environnement. There’s somehow a real manipulation game in the hands of the PLM Manager. I believe I’m still too young to describe serious trend in that area but I’ve got my opinions.
      Thanks again for adding some info on the topic !

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