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 Rishi's PLM World
My name is Rishi Madhav, and I am from India. I am a CAD/PLM professional, working in this domain for around 6 years now. My core areas of work have been engineering design & analysis (CAD), CAD Customizations and support/implementation of PLM systems (Teamcenter Enterprise). I have been … More »

Culture change and PLM

June 19th, 2009 by rishimad

There are a multitude of definitions floating around, which define PLM/PDM. I came across one of them as defined by CIMdata, which goes as – “PLM is a strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions in support of the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information across the extended enterprise from concept to end of life – integrating people, processes, business systems, and information”.

In my humble opinion, from an implementor’s viewpoint, while managing “processes, business systems and information” in a PLM tool is still evolving and there are technical advancements which aid that process, what becomes most challenging is the culture change in terms of work which a PLM system brings in to an enterprise.

To quote a small incident which I remembered,I was taken back to my second company, where I had worked around 5 years ago. A design and manufacturing company of automotive AC systems in India, it was a medium sized enterprise and had just decided to implement a PDM system, integrated with the CAD tool which was being used.

I,being part of the R&D team (working on CAD), was playing a fringe role in deciding the business process for the implementation.A few of us, who were among the younger lot, were extremely excited to get exposed to this new enterprise solution. But many of the senior designers, who were so used to working with huge rolls of paper on their desks, just could not fathom how “another piece of software” could actually help in making their work easier. These people were draftsmen and workshop personnel who learnt a CAD system and worked on 3D modeling, unlike us who were supposed to be the “engineering R&D” team.

It was not unlike a culture shock for this group of people, who just could not understand what good a PDM system, with its vaults, file systems, version controls and virtual BOMS would do, when they were able to do the same from their local systems. “The company is still running, and we are still producing/manufacturing AC systems”, they’d say.

This had prompted the vendor, implementing the PDM system, to hold an impromptu meeting with us, explaining how such a PDM system was not an “evil” thing to have and how we should not “fear” getting our hands on to it. In a marathon session, PPTs were shown extolling the virtues of PLM, doubts clarified and questions such as “how different is it from managing versions in an excel sheet” were answered patiently.
(Very recently, I heard that the team recieved an award for this project, for having implemented the system with minimum issues! So much for “fear of the evil’!)

5 years down the line, after having wetted my hands a little in the PLM world, what strikes me the most is the lack of PLM/PDM education in such SMBs, especially in developing countries where words such as “automation” and “application integration” are almost alien concepts, to the point of getting lost in the paper drawings and manual processes they are so used to.

Working on PLM implementations in large enterprises, this point does not hold that much importance because there is so much of know-how and technology already, that eventually, it does get percolated to the lower echelons of the management. But for SMBs, being the largest yet untapped market for PLM, even before you start defining the process, rooting out the “fear of the evil” gains utmost importance!
Any thoughts on this?

P.S – This is my first post on MCADCafe and I am thankful for having got this chance to write here. I am extremely excited to be part of such an illustrious gathering. I hope to learn, and I hope to contribute even more to the blog here.

One Response to “Culture change and PLM”

  1. Antonio Palmer says:

    Hi Rishi, as you I’m a bit involved since almost one year in this PLM world. I’m from Brazil and have been working 7 years for a German company first in product development using an history free 3D CAD and a kind of basic PDM system. I understand your points of view about this ‘fear of evil’ when it comes to introduce a new tool and, especially, a more powerful PLM solution, which is what I’m living by now.
    Since almost one year I’m in the team to support and implement this new PLM but the major problem all the ‘old’ guys – and believe me, I’m one of them too! – face is to go ahead in a new 3D system, in this case a parametric one. Its been more than two years now sicnce its introduction – in our site here in Brazil only 4 months – but still today my colleagues back in German they have to tame that ‘fear of evil’. Not an easy job, you’ve put very well, it means explanations to the limit and much, much patience. but, when you are in a situation like this what you want is to push it and get the most of it so sometimes this back and forth turns to be a bit frustrating.
    I’ve only read your post today and it is very good to know this a challenge thing all around the world, it’s not a particular problem from this company I’m in.
    Thanks for writing it down and share!

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