You’ve done it! Your company has finally taken the plunge and installed a new PLM system. The hard part is over, right? Wrong. The adoption stage of your new PLM system is crucial and, all too often, overlooked.
Foreseeing the challenges your organization may face is a surefire way to mitigate these common PLM adoption struggles. Before we delve into our industry-verified tips, let’s take a look at where the classic PLM adoption pitfalls lie.
Contextualizing data processes and mapping, developing plans that cover the extent of a system’s complexities across various departments, and ensuring people are informed and feel involved in these system changes are the areas that incur the most difficulties for companies installing new PLM systems today. In short, the lack of a well thought out adoption strategy that covers these problem areas is what sets companies back.
A company-wide PLM change implementation is more akin to a marathon, not a sprint. Showing up on race day with the most expensive gear on the market may make you feel like you have a competitive advantage, but showing up that day with ample training, knowledge of the course, and a flexible attitude to let that expensive gear do its work is a whole lot better.
The following tips are the keys to making sure that, one year from now, your new PLM system will feel like an integral part of your organization and not a perfect stranger.
7 Easy Tips Nobody Told You about PLM Adoption
#1 - #2 - Start with the “who”, and the “why”.
This is not new, however, in practice, we find that many PLM leaders falsely assume that the “why” is clear to the broader organization. Consequently they fail to spend enough time communicating the rationale behind their change efforts.
People long to belong, and they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Take the time to understand who is part of the transformation and what’s in it for them.
Because believing in the “why” behind a change can inspire people to change their behavior.
So before you hit the ground running, you need to spend enough time thinking about who is going to be a part of the transformation and what’s in it for them.
#3 - Take the time to understand the context.
Take time to investigate how your change initiatives went in the past. Understanding the established business culture and historical response to change is very important to plan your strategy and the things you are going to do to approach the change initiative.
These first three tips give us the framework to craft the change imperative that will fuel your PLM initiative. We are going to mobilize your organization with a powerful change story. As humans we are wired for stories. We are going to manufacture a change narrative to inspire the workforce and create a shared sense of purpose.
My tip here is to think of the people involved and even give them names. List their pains, their fears, and their concerns, and build them into the storyline. The best change stories answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” They provide people with an understanding of how their work relates to the organization’s overall vision.
#4 - Focus on quick wins.
OK now, once you have your foundations in place, your “north star”, you are going to find quick wins. These are projects where you can show progress quickly and help people feel the movement right away.
This is very important because PLM is like a big elephant – don’t try to eat all of it at once when you first start out.
We want to select projects with well-defined outputs. Many definitions will surely be missing, but we want to focus on the end result and work on the definitions along the way. How do you define an item, and what are the attributes you use to classify them?
#5 - Embrace an end-to-end approach to change.
When you approach your change initiative with an end-to-end process mindset, you look at the tools, data, and handoffs that support your PLM processes.
Select an information flow and figure out how things are changing and how they should work from end-to-end.
The end-to-end mindset is powerful because you help people grasp the big picture while providing tangible outputs and results.
#6 - Start small and scale up.
I recommend starting small, with pilot projects, and see if things work. Pilot projects are going to help you build the solution and the process. You’ll develop ownership along the way because with a “pilot”, people are going to feel like a part of the process, and they’ll become champions of change. If things go well, you’ll also be able to create real case studies, which are going to help you tremendously to move things forward in the rest of the organization.
And once you’re set up, you’ll be ready to scale up. You’ll have a blueprint to continue the deployment and to go bigger, step by step.
Testing ideas, learning from failures, and scaling up successes quickly is an approach that limits damage, provides valuable lessons, and builds an appetite for change.
#7. Invest in your people.
The lack of investment in people is something I see a lot. Do we have budget restrictions? We cut training. Do we need money for a new system? We cut support. If you are serious about PLM, you have to invest in your people. And that means making sure you spend time, money, and energy on enabling change and upskilling people.
In practice build a community, invest in support, and be close to the end user.
It’s time to work smarter, not harder. Investing in an extensive PLM adoption strategy, that highlights the people behind the scenes, is the smart choice.
Adapting to a new PLM system will never be painless, but establishing a clear PLM adoption strategy can help make the transition less of an uphill battle. Adoption enablement is an ever evolving process that requires constantly having to reassess and realign priorities. But please don’t let the daunting nature of PLM adoption deter you! Instead, take these tips into consideration and you’ll see how prioritizing adoption enablement was the best decision you ever made.
Our Share PLM team has already helped dozens of companies manage change by implementing tailored PLM adoption strategies. If you’re looking for more tips to improve your implementation plan, schedule a quick call with us to see how we can help!