Creating simple and flexible PLM

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Goals for designing a PLM process

1. Simple: keep administration, training and operating costs low by

  • taking full advantage of the automation provided by your PLM solution;

  • defining PLM system rules that allow users to self-manage their tasks with little clerical support or administrative intervention;

  • assuming that occasional or new users won't remember complicated rules for creating, finding, and processing items.

2. Flexible: minimize the amount of work - and rework - that could occur during the PLM system's lifetime (which may be 20 years or more) by

  • supporting on-demand expansion of part categories, document types, change types, custom attributes and other attributes without requiring an impact assessment;

  • ensuring that the design can support unlimited growth in any area without reworking previously-entered data;

  • minimizing the chance for conflicting process definitions if the PLM data has to be merged with another PLM system sometime in the future. Ideally, two PLM systems that follow these rules will be simple to merge, with no discussion about which data set requires renumbering. 

Implementation of these goals

This is where we get controversial.

All of the recommendations in the following pages are the result of over 20 years of observing PLM installations in many companies, direct experience in managing engineering and IT departments, extensive discussions with PLM and CM experts, and reading many expert industry- and government-issued references and websites

However, given the wide latitude for standards interpretation; the heavy influence of traditional document control practices; the varying practices unique to each industry; the technical, historical and cultural demands of your specific company; and the apparently-uncontrollable desire of engineers everywhere to discover the "perfect" numbering system, we cannot say that these recommendations are right for you.

But we will say that, were we responsible for the long-term maintenance of your PLM system, these are the ideas we'd bring with us and the rules we'd consider.