The Number One Reason PLM Is NOT Working in Your Organization

productization is key in PLM

Last week I spoke with a potential customer who read my article, “13 Common PLM Implementation Problems And How to Avoid Them”, and reached out for help.

“We’re having all of the problems you listed in your article, Helena,” our potential customer began. “Can you please help us get it right?”

I agreed to assess how we could help his company and after he gave me some background and explained what they were selling, I asked him, “What are your products?”

“We’re a customer-oriented company,” he said. “Our products are tailor-made for our clients. We work on projects; we don’t have products as such.” 

“Why don’t you have products?” I asked.

“Our clients always have special requests, and so we can’t productize our offering.” 

Sound familiar?

I thought it might.

The problem with selling projects, not products

I know far too many businesses that depend on always-different products and project-to-project revenue to keep the lights on.

Their process changes every time there’s a new project, and the people involved in the process are the brain of the operation. 

As they provide highly customized solutions, they need an experienced team who can function with a high level of uncertainty from day to day and week to week. 

Building and maintaining this type of team is costly and resource heavy, which makes it very difficult to maintain healthy margins. This leads to big challenges when it comes to scaling.

But the most pressing problem with tailor-made products is that it is very difficult to capitalize on the lifecycle value. Forget revenue-adding services at scale – your product isn’t standard, and your services can’t be standard, either.

If your organization is dependent just on projects, you need to define your product first.

define your products productization PLM

Defining your product first

Productization means packaging your solutions in a cohesive and standardized offering of well-defined products and related services.

A productized offering reduces the “chaos” that often happens when “every project is different” and your solutions are always customized for a wide variety of clients and needs. 

PLM can surely help you gain efficiency and manage information smartly if you still focus on projects. 

But remember the “P” in PLM? PLM is all about products.

The number one reason why Product Lifecycle Management is not working for your organization is that you keep “reinventing the wheel” in every project and always-different products.

Productization is key.

Here’s the deal.. If you want a healthy, scalable, and sustainable business, don’t sell projects anymore. Sell products.

Sell Products, Not Projects: 5 Reasons Why You Should Productize

#1 – Products are easier to sell, deliver, and support.

The more standard and repeatable your products are, the easier it will be for your team to sell, deliver, and support them.

As a project-oriented organization, you probably have a lot of salespeople who love to tailor your solutions to the customer. They’re always selling something different to make the customer feel special and close deals.

Here’s the good news. You can still offer configurable add-ons or options for your products. Your products will be made of standard modules, and your sales team will still be able to put together an offer that makes the customer “feel special”.

By focusing on products and a standard way of delivering them and serving clients, your business can scale and grow easily while your products, at their core, remain the same for all clients.

#2 – Products keep quality and reliability high.

Every “special project” adds potential for a problem to slip through the cracks.

Product quality is an important competitive issue. Quality products help you improve your customer retention, build brand trust, and boost your product’s lifetime value.

When your organization delivers products in the same way every time, you can keep quality and reliability high.

why productization is crucial with plm

#3 – Products are cheaper.

Tailor-made products that are always different can increase the cost to deliver your solutions, and probably result in a higher price for the customer. 

The more variations there are in your offering, the harder it is to work with standard specifications and standard processes.

A common benefit of  productization is built-in efficiency at a great price.

#4 – Products make your organization more efficient.

Tailor-made products often involve reinventing the wheel for every project. 

I know of many organizations that depend on a few key “heads” who know how to “adapt” the product every time. These people are often close to retirement, and their knowledge is either in their heads or locked in a master spreadsheet that only they can operate.

A productized offering also relies on people. But with productization of your offering, your sales process, the timeframe for delivery, the interfaces between teams, the software you use, and your operations can be standardized.

Because the work method is now defined, your team can focus on the part of the process they’ve been hired to do. 

#5 – Products unlock lifecycle value.

Lifecycle value: this is a biggie. Productization helps you focus on services for your best clients and run your business in a more systematic and predictable way.

Lifecycle is at the core of PLM. Without a well-defined product, you won’t be able to capitalize on its lifecycle value. 

Shifting from projects to products

Shifting from projects to products isn’t easy.

A product mindset must be baked into your business. Every day, every project, every interaction, every moment. 

Breaking away from the way you’ve done things for so long is always difficult, confusing, and risky. But if you’re feeling the itch that my potential customer and so many others have felt with project-specific solutions, then it’s more of a risk to not work on your products.

7 Benefits of Outsourcing Your PLM Training

Outsourcing PLM Training

Choosing to embark on a change initiative to implement a new PLM system in your business is one of the biggest projects that a company can take on. Very often, despite the large amount of financial resources and time invested, and despite their expectations or best-laid plans, organizations can still fail to leverage the promised benefits of PLM – 7 out of 10 fail, actually. It’s crucial that your PLM project is planned and communicated correctly from day one, and this means developing an effective training plan. Although your team can envision the desired outcome, developing training for a change initiative of this size and importance may require some specific skills or resources that you don’t have available in house. That’s why it can be a huge benefit to outsource your PLM training.

When implemented correctly, PLM will connect your processes, data, andmost importantlyyour people. However, many neglect this key element of the implementation process and don’t provide quality training for their employees. Instead of chancing whether your users become knowledgeable and efficient in your PLM system or not, you can hire external experts whose job is to ensure your team is trained the right way.

Let’s take a look at some of the greatest benefits of outsourcing your PLM training.

#1 – You will get a professional result which will lead to a better outcome.

We’ve all seen the Powerpoint presentations thrown together by management that are as equally boring as they are visually appalling. To be fair, those people have full workloads and “training designer” isn’t exactly in their job description. So why do companies make them create their training? They wouldn’t have anyone but a web design expert make their website, for example, so why is training any different?

If you work with training experts you can expect a professional product. The better the quality of the training program, the better the outcome of that training will be.

In the end, you want your users to be experts in your PLM system, so hiring experts to train them is what makes sense.

OpenBOM Onboarding Course

#2 – PLM training specialists have pedagogical knowledge so they will follow the best learning techniques when developing your training.

There are learning principles that pedagogical experts will be able to apply while creating your training program to make it the most effective for your users. They know how to build a program that accommodates their different needs and habits so that they learn faster and retain more of the information.

For example, training specialists will design your lessons to be the correct length, vary in learning styles and media, build on the most relevant material, and they can help you plan the training sessions so that they reinforce the information at the right time. Most likely your organization is unaware of a lot of these tricks and knowledge and that can affect how well your training program performs.

PLM outsourcing experts

#3 – You can take advantage of all the latest digital learning tools and technology.

Besides the benefit of pedagogical knowledge, outsourcing will also allow you to design more engaging materials by using the latest technology. You can take advantage of an assortment of interactive e-learning tools, such as system demos, video tutorials, online courses, software simulations, process libraries, webinar breakout rooms, interactive images, etc. 

All of these tools can be customized to your system and business processes so your users won’t have to waste time going through boring, irrelevant “out-of-the-box” system guides. You can save time and make the experience more enjoyable and relevant for your users. For example, with system simulations your team can practice real-world tasks they need to learn in the PLM system without the fear of making mistakes and distributing workflow.

OpenBOM Training Library

#4 – The process of developing your training program will be more time efficient.

Another obvious benefit of outsourcing your PLM training is that you will save a ton of time in the development of your training. Designing, structuring, and creating a training program that will ultimately be effective is a huge project. When it’s done internally in a company, the project must be completed on top of all the normal day-to-day tasks.

When you outsource the work, you will only have to spend time collecting the needed system manuals and current materials to send to the other company and then review the final outcome. After a few feedback sessions you can have your finished materials.

Plus, if the company is in a different time zone, you may also have the added benefit of getting work done even after your company’s work hours end!

#5 – Your PLM initiative will be prioritized and will stay on schedule.

When you hire an external company to design your training materials, you will both agree on set deadlines and on a final delivery date. The external business will make your project their priority and work to deliver it in that time frame. That means your initiative will have a strict plan, which will help everyone on your side stay on schedule too.

On the other hand, if you choose to develop your training materials on your own, the project is more likely to get delayed as other things inevitably come up. It’s easy to put off your training development as more urgent or demanding tasks appear.

#6 – PLM training experts will audit your existing documentation and create materials that you’re missing.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know. 

By outsourcing your PLM training development to PLM training specialists, you may discover unexpected gaps in your PLM concept. 

In the case that you find that your existing documentation is missing materials, PLM training experts can create new content for your program.

You don’t have to worry that your documentation is too technical and won’t be adapted clearly in your training program, either. If you hire training consultants that specialize in PLM systems, they will be familiar with a variety of software solutions and can expertly translate the materials into your training materials.

Auditing PLM concept

#7 – You will save a lot of money on operational costs and other expenses in the long run.

According to Harvard Business Review, outsourcing can cut your business’s costs by 20-30 percent!

Of course quality training comes at a price, but nothing is as expensive as wasting your organization’s time and resources. What if you invest all of this in this change initiative but your implementation begins to fail due to lack of user acceptance? Then your business would need to pay to fix what could’ve been done correctly the first time around.

Instead you can shift the workload of this project to the most efficient location, outside of your organization entirely. Then you can set a fixed budget for it and track investment costs as well.

Saving money outsourcing

There are so many savings and benefits to outsourcing your PLM training. Maybe you’ve been weighing those benefits for a while and want to see how your business can use outsourcing to your advantage. 

Ready to bring your PLM training to the next level? Go ahead and schedule a quick call with us to see how we can help! There’s no better time to start than now!

13 Common PLM Implementation Problems And How to Avoid Them

bulletin board with list of problems

The promise of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is captivating, but before you reach the golden lands of accelerated time to market, better product quality, efficient collaboration, and faster deliveries that PLM offers, you’ll likely encounter a few potholes. In this article, I’ve listed some of the most common PLM problems I’ve come across in the PLM projects we’ve been a part of.

#1 - Management chose the PLM system based on PowerPoints and company dinners.

Improved time to market, cross-company collaboration, capitalizing on the lifecycle value…the buzzwords, the charming sales guy, his shiny demo, and a bold pitch got your organization’s C-suite to say “Yes!” to Product Lifecycle Management.  

Data-quality issues, system architecture mismatches, and clashes with corporate culture are conveniently left out of those marketing-led meetings. 

All too often, management thinks PLM is as simple as implementing a system. 

The product dashboards might look great in the demo but getting them implemented in your company will take some time.

Man giving PLM presentation

How to avoid this PLM problem:

Let me tell you a secret. A successful PLM journey doesn’t start with a “best-in-class” system. It starts with a great team of people. Together, they can make almost any system work.

If it’s not too late with this PLM problem, consider the solution’s history of industry success, customization, flexibility, integration ability, customer support, and how well the solution addresses the organization’s requirements.

#2 – The system is seen as ugly, too slow, and expensive.

Your management picked the wrong system – it’s a common problem with PLM implementation. Maybe they didn’t have time to evaluate different ones or got sucked in by the siren song of a good deal. Either way, you ended up with a PLM system that’s simply not right for you.

It’s not that the system isn’t good. It just doesn’t fit your business. 

Perhaps they selected a system with too many features. It could even be that the system’s interface doesn’t look good. Or maybe the OOTB solution is hard to use – it seems like you’re designing an aircraft when you just need to manage your BOMs!

Man hitting computer because he has a PLM problem

How to avoid this PLM problem:

The secret to a better user experience is doing the up-front work to determine what matters most. What are the top workflows? What functionalities do people use the most? Is it the EBOM module, or the search engine? 

Figure out what’s important, then stay focused on the key things. Find a compromise that marries your workflow to the realities of your system.

More is not necessarily better, even when it comes to PLM systems. If you show every feature, view, and integration, you’ll soon be drowning in so much functionality that you won’t be able to focus on what’s important.

#3 - Good old Excel is still the go-to tool.

The biggest market share in PLM belongs to Excel, says Oleg Shilovitsky, co-founder of OpenBOM, a cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for hardware start-ups, manufacturing, and supply chain. 

Engineers love Excel. It’s still the go-to tool for “critical” engineering calculations such as process design or product configurations. Excel is good at things PLM isn’t, like moving data back and forth and creating cool dashboards from multiple data sources.

But while Excel is convenient and useful for simple calculations, it’s a terrible tool for collaboration and enterprise data management.

Man saying that he loves Excel

How to avoid this PLM problem:

Old habits die hard! 

If you want to convince the engineers and project managers in your organization to move away from Excel, you have to make a case for collaboration and transparency. 

Identify some real-life examples where Excel has failed to deliver the lifecycle visibility your organization needs, and show them a better way using your PLM system.

In a start-up with a young workforce, getting over Excel will be easier.

However, it’s an entirely different ball game to get older staff members to come to grips with your PLM system and change their ingrained Excel-centric ways of working. 

#4 - There's a war going on between your systems.

If you’ve been in the PLM world for a while, you’ve probably witnessed a lot of system wars: PLM vs ERP, PLM vs CRM, even PLM vs PLM!

The tricky thing about Product Lifecycle Management is that product data is spread across different systems. There’s often a lack of clarity about where and how to manage product data, especially after a merger. Also, different systems offer the same functionality. If the people managing these systems don’t talk to each other, it won’t be long before a system war breaks out.

Magnet attracting money to ERP not to PLM

How to avoid this PLM problem:

In the end, it’s all about defining system responsibilities. Who does what? Where do you need to manage BOMs? Do you need more than one system to release parts to production? Where do you do what?

Often, you’ll need to compromise. Don’t try to get it all right at once. Having a vision, planning out the system roles and the PLM architecture will slowly build peace in your system wars.

#5 - Your teams are competing against each other.

The Germans vs the Swedes. The French vs the Americans. 

This is a variation on our previous point – Teamcenter vs 3Ds, or Catia vs NX.

Men having fight over PLM

Political infighting can be overwhelming in international PLM projects.

If you’ve been part of a PLM implementation in a global company, I’m sure you’ve heard this before:

  • “That’s not how we do things here.” 
  • “This might work for a simple product like yours, but ours are much more complex.” 
  • “This system is too complex. Have a look at what we have in-house!”

Country-specific ways of working are often threatened by a PLM implementation. 

For example, the cool product configurators they’ve developed in-house could be lost when you begin to adopt the PLM system’s configurator for internal efficiency purposes.

How to avoid this PLM problem:

Sometimes bringing down the walls between teams starts with a dinner or an outdoor event.

Having a PLM project leader from a country other than the ones fighting the war can help keep tempers in check. 

Plan and be prepared to deal with political turmoil if you’re deploying PLM in a global company.

#6 - Your middle-aged users are set in their ways.

Who is Markus, and how you can drag him into the 21st century?

Markus is that grumpy, belligerent engineer who created the first Excel-based product configurator when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. 

“You guys in management sell the PLM as a productivity tool, but now it takes me ten minutes longer to save my CAD models than before! So, what’s in it for me?”

Markus is, of course, an archetype, but there are plenty like him – people who refuse to engage with new ways of doing things.

Man complaining that system is slow

How to avoid this PLM problem:

Here’s another secret: Technology is a small challenge compared to people in a PLM implementation. Identify skill gaps and invest in education and organizational change management.  

My advice here is to ensure you bring in the right team to engage in your PLM implementation – people who can listen, empathise, and move things forward.

Don’t know how to get started? We can help!

#7 - The “Mister-Know-it-all” PLM consultant's solutions aren't the best for you.

Nobody likes a know-it-all consultant, but many companies’ PLM implementations have been led by one of them. 

You’ve probably been there. An experienced and charming guy with more than 20 years of consulting experience delivering a conceptual presentation deck filled with management jargon, mountains of charts, figures, and statistics. 

Some of these consultants resort to “one-size-fits-all” approaches. They use the same slide decks from client to client and keep asking for more budget. The solutions they propose are not necessarily the best for the company, but only what they can deliver and capitalize on.

When you attempt to implement what you’ve received, you have few actionable steps to take.

While certain strategies might have been successful on similar projects, no two engagements are identical. 

How to avoid this PLM problem:

Bringing in a PLM consultant can be essential to move PLM forward. But if you’re not careful about how you make the decision, you can end up with a “Mister-Know-It-All” leading the change.

Not all consultants are arrogant know-it-alls. Look for a consultant who listens. Someone who has worked in your industry. And hire a person, not a company name.

PLM consultant comic

#8 – The PLM architect has their head is in the clouds.

“We’re going to lose all the customizations this year, get back to the Out of The Box (OoTB) solution, and build an internal ecosystem with API-powered applications connected to the cloud. Then we’ll build a digital twin portfolio powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This strategy will give us a real edge.”

Buzzword bingo!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably met a lot of PLM system architects whose “heads are in the cloud.” 

I get it. Tech can be intoxicating. 

But talking about advanced geeky stuff when the basics aren’t in place is a joke. 

Trying to make sense of what constitutes PLM architecture (rather than, say, a system upgrade or a website redesign) is never easy. Product Lifecycle Management is the enabler of a lot of the cool things that digitalization does, but its roots go far back.

Man with his head in the clouds

How to avoid this PLM problem:

The latest powerful advances in tech are exciting. Having a bold vision is not necessarily a bad thing. 

But if your system architecture teams keeps only dreaming big, your PLM solution will soon be perceived as an “ivory tower” by the business. 

A great system architect balances technical and business knowledge. If it’s not too late with this PLM problem, hire a PLM system architect who’s not just a tech-obsessed geek.

#9 - The PLM concept owner wants to keep it conceptual.

I’ve been part of several PLM implementations where the concept owner didn’t want to hear about the system. She wants to “keep it all at a conceptual level” because the concept doesn’t need to be “system-specific”.

But the reality is, a PLM concept goes hand in hand with the PLM system.

If your PLM concept hides its absence of real tactical advice under many layers of fancy-looking “conceptual” data models, you have a problem with your concept owner.

PLM problem with concept

How to avoid this PLM problem:

If your PLM concept owner is swimming in high-level theories and complex concepts, you might want to raise an eyebrow. A good concept owner needs to get her hands dirty by getting down to the nitty-gritty details to understand the system. 

Ask questions and make sure they can show you how things should work with the toolset you have on hand, not “in the perfect world”.

#10 – The IT department doesn’t care.

Does granting your users access take ages? Your PLM system keeps crashing and no one seems to be able to fix it? You can’t access your system today and the guy from helpdesk keeps asking you if you’ve tried turning it off and on again?

There’s nothing worse than a non-supportive IT department. Technology plays a key role in PLM, and if your information technology department can’t help you get it right, you have a real PLM problem. 

Two IT men having a conversation

How to avoid this PLM problem:

The best way to resolve the PLM IT-related issues is to treat the problem as a team effort. Once the departments identify an issue with IT support, they will work on finding the root of the problem. Is it knowledge? Is it motivation? Is it politics?

Identify the key tasks your IT department needs to help you with, and document how to do it. If you don’t have enough internal knowledge to support your PLM users, it might be worth outsourcing it. 

There are a lot of small companies with well-informed people that can help you solve daily user problems and think strategically about how to improve your PLM system performance.

#11 - There's little excitement about data.

Product data is power – but only if the data is correctly collected, processed, and managed. 

Simply put, product data quality refers to the “health” of your data and whether it’s fit for its intended use. If your product data is duplicated across systems, outdated, or full of errors such as typos, abbreviations, and punctuation mistakes, it’s impossible to extract insights and value from it. 

The problem is that although big data and data analytics sound sexy, the real, nitty-gritty data work is boring. 

Ensuring that attributes are common across the enterprise and getting integrations and migrations right is difficult and takes a lot of work. 

Man saying PLM isn't exciting

How to avoid this PLM problem:

All too often, key data quality issues are overlooked. I’ve seen several key digital transformation programs fail because the product data wasn’t prepared or good enough. 

Don’t build your product data foundations on sand. Make sure you have funding in place to support the effort to get to good product data. 

Build a case for management and use plenty of real-life examples. Explain why your product data management initiative is needed and be prepared to explain why it’s so expensive.

#12 - It's time for the dreaded system upgrade.

Your system is outdated, and it’s time for an upgrade. Now that you’ve got the ball rolling and your people are used to your PLM system, your system vendor has informed you that, as of next year, they won’t be supporting the version you installed.

Outdated PLM systems can put companies at risk of security issues and holes in their system architecture. Updating a PLM system can seem as simple as updating a software version – but if you’ve been through a PLM system upgrade, you know it’s not.

Customizations and company-specific configurations will often make it hard and time-consuming.

PLM system upgrade time

How to avoid this PLM problem:

System customizations will be needed, but if you customize your system too much, you’ll end up on your own at upgrading time.

Plan and budget for upgrades, and don’t underestimate the effort they involve. A PLM system upgrade is a project on its own.

#13- You're having a hard time demonstrating the PLM's ROI.

Data quality issues, technology hurdles, poor people engagement with the system … any or all of these common PLM problems can make your C-suite feel like they’re not getting a big enough bang for their buck. 

Why is the return of investment such a big deal for Product Lifecycle Management? Because justifying the value of PLM through ROI is very challenging.

The tricky thing about PLM is that it’s a bit different for everyone. 

When a PLM journey begins, most companies simply don’t understand what they’re implementing, let alone how much it costs or how long it will take. 

Our blogging peers Jos Voskuil and Oleg Shilovitsky discuss this in detail in some of their articles. 

Man asking where the PLM ROI is

How to avoid this PLM problem:

PLM implementations often focus on technology and pay far less attention to the human aspects. People problems are the reason for most of the PLM failures I’ve seen.

While systems and technology require attention, people need at least as much careful consideration and strategic planning.

Put people first, and make them your superpower!

Why PLM Deployment Can’t Succeed Without a Training Library

computer on table with plant

In a world where your users’ time matters more than ever, failing to provide quick access to relevant information could destroy your PLM deployment. Add to that the fact that, in recent times, enterprises have been forced to transform the ways in which they provide training to drive their educational programs forward at an accelerated pace. 

So how can you make this happen? By defining a digital hub to tie processes and systems together and by providing a visual representation of your company’s operating model, you can make your business more predictable and more efficient. Your business can overcome these challenges with a PLM Training Library.

Why Your PLM Deployment Needs a PLM Training Library

Making your support more predictable and scaling your training starts and ends with your PLM processes. If you don’t have effective processes mapped out in your system, everyone will just do their own thing. That means critical steps get missed and your users get bogged down by having to figure out what they should do and when.

Representing the way your company operates in a visual way and mapping business processes to system steps is essential for your people to run your business like a well-oiled machine. All of this will help keep the ship running smoothly even when things don’t go according to plan.

It’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. People don’t remember how to handle each scenario, so they escalate questions to managers or you, which slows down your entire operation and puts your clients’ final results at risk. So let’s look at why you need a Training Library and the benefits it can bring to your company’s PLM deployment.

1. Improve User Experience

With a Training Library, everything becomes more accessible and clear for your system users. This results in them understanding your system better and feeling more comfortable and knowledgeable when using it, which leads them to having a more positive attitude towards it. The better your user experience is, the more successful your PLM deployment will be.

2. Scale Support

Another benefit of creating a Training Library is that it scales support for your organization. Your users can access everything from your digital hub, find instructions and definitions, and they won’t need to send as many requests for help to the support team, which saves time and money.

3. Facilitate Onboarding

As we talked about in our last blog post, your users’ first impression will influence their acceptance or resistance to your PLM system. It’s common for dissatisfied users to negatively affect other users’ opinions of your system, so the way you onboard your users has a big impact on the company’s whole PLM deployment strategy. A Training Library will facilitate this process by presenting your processes in a visually appealing way that leads your new users step by step through the onboarding process.

4. Train Your Team

Besides onboarding materials, your digital library can host all your other documentation and materials as well. Training isn’t just a one-time problem, but rather an ongoing experience throughout the whole lifecycle. You can design in-depth sections for each of your product categories to tie together the theory and practice so all users can improve the way they use your PLM system. Your users will better understand how to work with their product data and how to make sense of the system as a whole.

5. Share Best Practices

You also have the benefit of sharing best practices with your users to optimize the way they work. This learning structure can help you maintain a work standard by providing access to information about all of your processes to everyone on the team. Each section can lay out how to complete tasks in the correct way and in the order that is most efficient.

PLM deployment training library benefits graphic

What You Should Include in Your PLM Training Library

Let’s dive into what you should add to your digital library to make your PLM deployment succeed!

System Modules

It’s important to break down the different modules of your PLM system and thoroughly explain the different process parts and steps. Explain in detail each function and its relevance in the day-to-day workflow of your different users. For example, Project Management, Product Portfolio, Services Bill of Materials, etc.

System Features

Your Training Library should highlight the main system features that are most useful and how to utilize them most effectively for each type of task. These could be search tools, filters, buttons, toolbar shortcuts, notifications and the internal message system, commands, editing tools, and so on.

Onboarding

As we mentioned before, your digital library is the perfect place to host all your onboarding materials. You can design a section to add these courses, videos, and assignments to train new employees and get them working faster and more efficiently. 

Take a look at our Share PLM team’s Internal Process Library to see how we onboard our new teammates, train them to use our online tools, management applications, and benefit from having a digital library.

FAQs

 A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section is a great tool to add to your digital library to avoid frequent problems or misunderstandings. If you know common issues that many users typically face, you can address these in this section to save time and avoid support requests in the future.

Glossary

A glossary with common terms, system parts, titles, acronyms, and their definitions will help all your users understand the language of your PLM system and avoid confusion while learning your processes.

Support

Of course you also want to add a section where your users can request help if they have any further questions or issues. It should be easy to ask for support and get a reply in a timely manner.

Best Practices

Guide your users on how you want them to use your PLM system by instructing the best methods and techniques to complete real-world tasks. Your Training Library can be updated in real time with the most current best practices, legal requirements, and ethical standards.

Releases

Another useful section to include is an area that informs your users about new system updates. Every X number of months there are usually new versions released with bug fixes and improvements. It’s good to advise your users of any changes they should be aware of due to these updates.

Events

If you want to keep everyone up-to-date with current events, you can add a section to let people know about upcoming classroom training, new releases, meetings, conferences, webinars, etc.

PLM deployment training library contents graphic

How to Develop Your PLM Training Library in 4 Steps

1. Create a structure for your training library

The first step to developing your PLM Training Library is to determine the structure that will best suit your company’s processes and workflow. To help you design the correct framework it’s important to focus on who your learners will be. You want to tailor content to your users’ specific needs and responsibilities so that your training materials have the most impact and utility for them. The more relevant and personalized the material is to each specific audience, the more effective your training will be.

You can define your digital library’s structure by categorizing your learners in many different ways. You could segment using business functions, roles, or disciplines. Or you could devise a broader categorization and group your users into viewers, editors, and admins.

Take our client OpenBOM for example. They contacted us to create a Training Library and decided to segment their library by processes. This way they could walk their users through OpenBOM’s standard practices and how to best use their cloud-based inventory management system. Check out the video below to see how their digital library turned out:

2. Prioritize the most important content

Once you have the structure and categories of your Training Library, the next step is to decide what content is the most important and prioritize those learning goals. Think about which group of learners is the largest in your organization. If a big group of users in your PLM deployment are just starting out, then figure out what you need to get those people up to speed and start with that.

You’ll need to map out learning paths that will achieve the learning objectives that you’ve defined for your users. Make sure you write objectives that are outcome-oriented, meaningful and relevant to your audience, as well as achievable. What processes are necessary to learn to begin using your PLM system? What content do you need to include to ensure your training’s success? For example, you can start with the 5 things a new PLM user definitely needs to learn to see value. 

3. Map your existing content to the new structure

Your next move is to analyze what training materials you already have and to make an inventory of this documentation. See where your current resources fit into the learning paths you want to create and find what you can already upload to your library. Leverage these existing materials, whether they are articles, videos, manuals, Powerpoints, PDFs, etc., so that you don’t waste time creating everything from scratch.

Make sure your learning paths use different content and various learning styles to meet your users needs, and to keep them engaged throughout the training sections.

4. Plan the implementation of content creation

Lastly, once you have your Training Library’s structure and you’ve categorized your pre-existing training documentation, it should be easy to see what learning materials you are missing. In this step you will identify these holes and develop a plan to create the content you need to fill in the gaps. It’s easiest to break down this plan into manageable chunks, like weekly goals, then monthly, etc. Once your plan is prepared, you’ll be ready to create your digital library and start uploading your materials to your site.

If you’re working on your PLM deployment and could greatly benefit from a resource like this but have no time to begin a project of this size, we offer Strategy Sessions to help you get started. In this workshop we will audit your current documentation, create your library’s structure, and define your plan for you. We also can tackle the whole job for you, designing the structure, hosting the page, and completing your Training Library so that you don’t have to. Contact us today to get started!

Thanks for reading!

7 Lessons Your PLM System Onboarding Course Must Include

PLM system onboarding course

A PLM onboarding course is a key piece of the complete puzzle of the user onboarding journey. It is a guided learning experience that introduces the learner (or user) to the basic concepts and system functionalities, like navigation features and useful searches. In this blogpost, we want to share the 7 lessons that every PLM system onboarding course must include. For that, we have selected the PLM system, Ganister, to use as an example.

1. Welcome to the System: What is this PLM System About?

A system onboarding course is the first contact that a person has with the system. This first impression will influence their acceptance or resistance to the system, which will have a big impact on the company’s whole PLM strategy. Bad first impressions move very quickly between people since it’s common for a dissatisfied user to negatively affect other users’ opinions about the PLM system.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairsa dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. For these reasons, it is very important to explain the benefits of the system and its role within the company in a simple, fresh, and engaging way.

We recommend using modern graphics to group the system benefits and main features in a condensed view. They can provide an overview that can be assimilated within seconds by the learner.

Ganister PLM online course

2. System Login: How Can I Find the System and Log In?

Obviously, a must-have lesson in a PLM system onboarding course is the “How to Login” lesson. It sounds easy to do, but don’t forget to include:

  • How to acquire a username and password: Where should the user request login credentials?
  • What the needed technical requirements are: Are there system requirements needed to start working with it? (e.g. Java updates, recommended internet browsers, security certificates, etc.)
  • How to install the system or where to log in: Depending on if the system is on-cloud or on-premise, you need to guide the user on how to access the system. They may need to request help from the IT department to install it on their computers or maybe they can easily find the links on the company intranet webpage.
  • How to log in: Provide visual instructions on how to use the system’s login interface.
Ganister PLM user onboarding course

3. User Roles: What Am I Supposed to Do in this PLM System?

Business roles are sets of system licenses and permissions that control what you are able to view, edit, create, remove or delete. In this lesson, show the user a comprehensive view of the different business roles that work with the PLM system and the main tasks that each one is able to perform.

This lesson will help them understand the context of sharing and managing data: who will collaborate actively with them, who will see the data they input, who is responsible for what product or part of the product, what they can edit, what they can’t edit, etc.

Business Roles Ganister Share PLM

4. Home Walkthrough: What Information Can I Find in the PLM System?

In this lesson, you want the user to learn what the main features are and how to locate them from the PLM system’s homepage. They need to know where they are, how easily they can navigate through their working views, how fast they can find required information, and where they can request help. Provide them with a guide of the interface.

The more interactive your onboarding course is, the better. Take a look at this labeled graphic that we made for our client. You’re able to click on the hotspots to read further menu information, making it more interesting and more informative than just a regular image.

Ganister Home Share PLM

5. Searching Smart: How Can I Efficiently Find the Information I Need?

Most PLM systems offer powerful search capabilities. And at first glance, you could think that your system is pretty intuitive. But searching is not finding! A good PLM system onboarding course needs to contain an overview of the different available searches and in which cases they should be used.

For instance, imagine that you have lot of information about a document. You know its exact title, its owner, its purpose, etc. There is probably a search that will allow you to input all that data and will point you to the target document.

On the other hand, you might only know that it is a Engineering design review, and you’ll need to search and view multiple results in order to identify the document you need.

In this type of lesson you should give hints and tricks to the users on how to find key information by searching using key data. Don’t go too in depth, though. Remember that it is an onboarding course that should be fresh and agile.

For example, if you are searching for a project in the system, give some tips about the following:

  • How should the searches be used, or it is more recommended to navigate through the menus?
  • Which of the available searches are best for finding a project?
  • Which information should I input to find a project faster? Or which information is usually introduced for a person with my role?

Search topics can be another completely separate course. And it’s worth creating because finding the right information in a short amount of time saves lots of users frustration and time, which in turn affects the company’s budget.

Share PLM system onboarding course

6. Customizing Views and Filtering Information: How Can I Find Information in a Certain Context?

Imagine that you have found the project you were looking for and now you want to start working on one of your assigned tasks. The project contains 85 tasks, so most likely you will need to filter the tasks to find the ones assigned to you.

In this lesson, show the users how to filter table information, how to select different predefined views, and how to create their own view. Knowing how to search, filter, and customize views will make them feel more familiar with the system and more confident using it.

7. Common Final Lessons: How Can I Continue Learning?

To close the PLM system onboarding course you can add quizzes to test the users’ knowledge, a lesson to continue learning, or a guide on how to request system support. The key is to show the available resources to help your users continue along their PLM onboarding journey.

Making sense of your product data.

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Now you know the key features that every PLM system onboarding course must have. If you need further information about how to better train your users, contact us or subscribe to our newsletter.

Thank you very much to Yoann Maingon for providing us with the Ganister interface for this post.

The 6 Laws That Will Make Your PLM Training Program Succeed

writing in a notebook plm training

As I’m sure you already know, the failure rate of PLM implementations is high. If you’ve recently purchased or are in the market for a PLM system for your organization, that’s the last thing you want to hear. However, there is some good news–a major reason for this failure is due to a poor PLM training program. Employees don’t understand how the system works or where they fit in. Why is this a good thing? Because in this article we’re going to share what you can do to design an effective PLM training program that will succeed.

Designing any corporate training program is no easy feat. There are so many factors to consider when starting the development process. What is the most relevant content? How long should the program be? Is it time efficient? The list goes on and on. So where do you start?

When creating any educational program, it’s crucial that you start by focusing on who your learners are. But the true key to designing effective training is understanding how people learn and building a program that accommodates their needs and habits. That’s why in this article we’re going to explain the 6 ‘laws of learning’ and how applying them to your PLM training program design will ensure it succeeds. We’re going to go over definitions and specific examples of these learning principles to guide your plan and its development. Let’s go!

What are the 6 laws of learning and where did they come from?

The 6 laws of learning are principles of educational psychology that explain the most effective ways in which people learn. American psychologist, Edward Thorndike, developed the first 3 principles in the early 20th century. Thorndike was a pioneer not only in behaviorism but also in the study of learning where he came up with concepts of reinforcement and conditioning.

Later on other educational psychologists identified 3 more principles which now make up the 6 main laws of learning. The laws are as follows: the law of readiness, the law of exercise, the law of effect, the law of primacy, the law of recency, and the law of intensity.

Of course, these principles can and should be followed when creating any type of educational course since they help learners retain more of what they learn. Let’s take a look at their definitions, why they are so important to follow, and how you can use them to design your PLM training program.

1. Law of Readiness

The law of readiness states that learning can only take place when the person is ready to learn. When your learners feel good and prepared, they will have a greater comprehension of the material and learn more effectively. Sometimes this can be dependent on factors out of your control, such as whether the person got a good night’s sleep or if they’re feeling well or not. But there are many things that your organization can do to improve your learners’ state of mind.

First, before the training begins, introduce them to the curriculum and work to generate interest in the program. This can be done through an internal marketing campaign, which we did a whole webinar about and that you can watch here.

Other ways to get your learners ready is to free up some time or space on their calendars so they feel less stressed and not so overworked. Also, hosting pre-training meetings is a way to provide support and answer any of their questions so your employees won’t feel anxious about learning a complex system all alone.

2. Law of Effect

The law of effect, which was actually the first principle that Thorndike developed, states that learning is strengthened if positive emotions are associated with it. In contrast, if negative emotions are experienced when the learning takes place, then learning is weakened. The best possible situation is that the learner feels some type of enjoyment or satisfaction while learning.

To improve your PLM training program, design it to be fun and strive for your learners to feel confident and accomplished with what they’ve learned. Instead of using boring, dense PDF manuals, create modern learning materials like ecourses with images, videos, and shorter lessons that they can enjoy. Bite-sizing the material will also help you avoid fatiguing your learners or making them feel defeated by huge, unmanageable lessons.

As always, support is key to improving the attitudes of your employees. Schedule support meetings and feedback sessions so they will feel heard and assisted. You can even set milestones that are rewarded throughout the program so people feel accomplished in their progress.

3. Law of Exercise

I’m sure you’ve heard, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” The law of exercise is just that – the more practice, the more the person will retain the information. Repetition is key!

As we’ve talked about on our social media, microlearning is a great method for applying this principle. Smaller lessons spread out across a longer period of time that repeat the same material a number of times is a more effective way to learn. This can be done in a variety of ways.

Like we do for many of our clients, you can create a series of short videos that repeat and build on information as the training progresses. We then incorporate those tutorials in an ecourse that goes over the lesson again and quizzes the learners at the end. You could also begin a “tip of the day” email sequence in your company’s internal marketing campaign we mentioned before.

law of readiness for plm training
law of effect for plm training
law of exercise for plm training

4. Law of Primacy

The law of primacy is another well-known principle. It’s related to the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The idea is that relearning something in a new way is harder than learning it correctly initially. This is because the first way a person learns something makes a very strong impression on them. It’s always better to do things right the first time!

That’s why when it comes to your PLM training program, you need to craft a killer user onboarding course that you implement from the beginning. Don’t let your PLM users mess around in the system, teaching themselves less efficient ways of working. You don’t want to spend your time putting out fires everywhere later. Start with a strategy and a successful training program from the jump.

5. Law of Recency

The law of recency states that a person remembers the most recently learned information best. We all know that and have experienced it. So how can you use that to improve your employees retention of your PLM program?

Reiterating some of the points mentioned above, you should structure your training so that it builds on previously-learned material. This can be done with unit reviews at the end of lessons or at the beginning of the following lesson. In the PLM training materials we develop for customers, we program interactive quizzes after lesson sections. These self-assessments help learners recall information and apply that recent knowledge immediately which helps their brains build a connection with the information.

6. Law of Intensity

Last but not least, the law of intensity states that the more exciting and engaging the material is, the more likely the person will remember it. Incorporating real-world scenarios that connect the material to actual daily tasks or work is the best way to teach your learners with this principle.

For hands-on activities, ‘job shadowing’ is a way to teach your employees exactly how you want tasks completed. For technical procedures your team needs to learn within the PLM system, we recommend developing software simulations. We generate these system demos in our training materials so that users can practice procedures in a stress-free environment since they’re not messing around in the real PLM system. They guide the learner step by step through each task so it’s the perfect way to learn how to do things the right way.

law of primacy for plm training
law of recency for plm training
law of intensity for plm training

So as you can see, these 6 laws of learning give you a solid framework to begin planning and developing a PLM training program that won’t leave your users lost and confused. Best of all these principles are scientifically proven to help your learners retain more of what you want them to learn, so your training will definitely be a success! Your PLM initiative won’t become another statistic that increases that average failure rate. Plus your users will enjoy the experience!

If you need help getting started with your training design or would like to know more about our modern elearning materials, video production process, or software simulations, contact us! We’d love to schedule a short call so you can start developing your PLM training program today.

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Why You Need an Internal Process Library

digital process library

Undoubtedly your company, like almost every company out there nowadays, has some kind of training procedure in place to onboard new employees or upskill your team. That, however, doesn’t mean that your business isn’t experiencing problems with the implementation or outcome of that training. What do you do when management doesn’t have time to support new teammates? How do you make sure roles and responsibilities are clear and understood? How do you manage abrupt changes, like when the chaos of Covid hit? If you’re not currently prepared for some or any of these issues, then that’s why you need an Internal Process Library!

Let me show you what this resource is and how it can solve all of these problems for your organization.

What’s an internal process library?

An Internal Process Library is a single, convenient platform where your company can host all of your internal training resources and documentation. It’s like a digital bible of your organization’s workflow and processes. On this internal platform, you can give detailed instructions to your team on how you want tasks and work to be completed for any position, which can be accessed at any time by anyone. This is a modern way of documenting how things are done, which allows you to delegate, scale, and advance your digital transformation. These Internal Process Libraries save time, money, and better ensure company standards are met.

Share PLM training library

To get a better understanding of the “big picture” and to see just how useful and powerful these digital libraries can be, I’m going to give you a behind-the-scenes look into the internal library of our Share PLM team. Let’s dive in!

What goes into a process library like this?

We first started documenting our processes near the beginning of this year. We then began designing our internal process library’s structure, which is like a framework for our business. Each of our teammates in different positions were asked to start detailing their main tasks, writing down instructions, recording short videos of the processes, and assembling relevant documents and templates.gning our internal process library’s structure, which is like a framework for our business. Each of our teammates in different positions were asked to start detailing their main tasks, writing down instructions, recording short videos of the processes, and assembling relevant documents and templates.

Next we created a map for the site and developed the layout to organize our training materials. We broke our library down into four main sections with various subsections that are the most important to our company’s workflow and for understanding our procedures.

Core Processes

Internal processes list

The first section of our internal library documents all of our core internal processes, which are divided into four subsections: Human Resources, Operations, Sales, and Marketing. 

In Human Resources any of our teammates can find detailed instructions on how we recruit new employees, handle vacation time and absences, conduct employee evaluations, complete payroll and invoicing, and other HR activities.

Our Operations section documents how we track and analyze our internal worked hours using our project management tools and other internal technical maintenance tasks.

In Sales we explain how we do outreach, plan and execute sales campaigns and calls, and how we run our in-person strategy workshops.

Lastly in Marketing, we can learn how our social media accounts are managed, how to conduct a webinar, plan a podcast, and manage our email correspondence with our subscribers.

Products and Services

Share PLM products

The most important section of our Internal Process Library is about our products and services. These links take the user to sections that explain every step that needs to be taken when creating one of our products or when providing one of our services to a client.

Here every teammate can follow each process step by step to deliver the same high-quality standard of service we give our customers every time.

Share PLM internal process library

Take our Strategy Session service for example. In these workshops we help our clients review their current training materials, build a learning program and curriculum, and build a structure for their digital library of resources. When you click on the Strategy Session link in the library, you can see the three phases of the process, how each of the tasks must be completed in each phase, and in what order they should be carried out.

IT Tools

internal process library tools

As a fully-remote company that uses a number of cloud applications to manage our daily operations, it was very important for our company to have an IT Tools section. This part of our library provides links to resources and courses we’ve made to teach our team how to use our IT and management tools. It’s crucial that everyone knows how to use our time-tracking tool (Toggl), our project management tool (Asana), our shared cloud drive, video editor, and elearning tools.

Onboarding Curriculum

Share PLM internal library

Our fourth and last section is orchestrated to onboard new employees in our company. We tailored the introductory course specifically to the needs of new workmates so they can begin their job fast and efficiently. Everyone on the SharePLM team goes through our onboarding curriculum – even I did – and thanks to such an incredibly useful training tool, the process only takes a new employee a few days to be prepared for their position. 

The onboarding course introduces them to our team members, teaches them how to get registered and start using our tools, informs them of our standards, and even gives them an exercise for each of our main processes so they can practice our internal workflow before they start.

Why do you need an internal process library?

From the description alone that I just gave, I’m sure your mind is racing through all the possible benefits a resource like this could do for your company. With one of these digital libraries, you no longer need a designated person to train your employees. Also, doing training face-to-face or in a classroom setting is a thing of the past. Just like that, you’ve freed up countless hours of management’s time.

You need a Internal Process Library so that your company doesn’t miss a beat if an employee suddenly has an accident or falls ill, goes on maternity/paternity leave, or if you have to quickly shift to fully-remote operations, as we saw with Covid. This resource allows you to train a new replacement or delegate the work across your team immediately and remotely.

There’s no confusion of who is responsible for what or how you expect things to be done when your whole team can access any of your tasks or processes at any time. Your onboarding course will get them up to speed from the beginning, but if they need a refresher in the future, they have access to it to review and answer their questions. Also, since it’s all digital, it’s easy to tweek minor changes and scale it as needed.

Who can benefit from an internal process library?

So as you can see, an Internal Process Library is a powerful resource that would be invaluable for any company to have. It definitely makes an incredible difference in our remote education-technology company since our team is scattered across multiple cities in two different countries.

These digital training tools would also be perfect for system integrators, consulting companies, software vendors, international organizations, and anyone else looking to save time and money and advance their company’s digital transformation. 

It takes some time to develop but your organization can only benefit from clearly defining its processes, reestablishing its goals, clarifying its standards, and fine-tuning its workflow. If your company is ready to reap all the benefits an Internal Process Library can bring them, schedule a call with us today! We’ll get your digital library up and running in no time.

Thanks for reading!

Back to Basics: Defining PDM, PLM and PIM

defining pdm plm and pim

Why a Blogpost about PDM and PLM definitions?

If you happen to be in the PLM business, you’ve probably used to having philosophical discussions about what PLM is, what it isn’t, and whether we should keep using the term PLM or invent a new one. You debate these questions at conferences, online, in your client’s boardroom, and at your PLM user’s desk.

Two weeks ago, I answered a survey prepared by PLMIG and Xlifecyle entitled “PLM and the digital future”. They are gathering data to analyse the existential identity issues that swirl around the term PLM.

Terminology is important, so we might need to get the definitions right and rethink. In this post, I’d like to walk through the rise of Product Lifecycle Management and its definitions.

What is PDM?

Once upon a time, products were designed on paper, drawings were used to share data, and changes were approved with a simple “okay”. Before the mid-20th century, Computer Aided Design (CAD) was a non-existent term. No one imagined that products would soon be designed digitally.

This wasn’t so long ago. I still remember watching my father and his team hunched over a drawing board, driving to the workshop with a car full of drawings, and signing the latest design changes over the phone.

Even today, when I ask them to show me their product’s installed base, some of our customers secretly confess that the “real” single source of truth is in the archive in the basement.

What CAD changed was not only the way we design products. Soon after people started to widely use it, they realized they needed a smarter way to manage product data.

PDM stands for Product Data Management. PDM was introduced around the 1980s. Different teams started to jointly design products, and they needed a way to collaborate on the product design process. In the beginning it was mostly about controlling distribution and access to design data – that is, who gets to see and edit what.

cad pdm plm evolution

Definition Of PLM

While PDM was a big step forward towards smart data management, it was still pretty much focused on engineering and CAD Design.

As products became more complex and multiple disciplines became involved in the design process, the need arose for a more holistic Product Data Management system, one that brought in teams from the whole lifecycle and supported all disciplines, not just engineering.

Today, Mechanical CAD (MCAD), Electrical CAD (ECAD), plant and machine control systems, and the entire suite of Office applications keep generating ever-growing amounts of heterogeneous product data. Managing this data is a complex challenge, because the information it holds needs to be looked at throughout the product’s lifecycle.

PLM integrates relevant authoring applications and enterprise core systems such as ERP and CRM to let Product Data seamlessly “flow” through the lifecycle.

Product Lifecycle Management definition

Developed to address the requirements of product complexity, PLM serves up multidisciplinary design, supplier integration, and lifecycle collaboration in many flavours.

eCommerce and the rise of Product Information Management

In parallel to the developments in industrial product data management, another stream was on the rise to fulfil eCommerce and online consumer needs. Companies who sold products online also required basic product information management systems to organize their wares and present them to consumers on the internet.

PIM stands for Product Information Management. In his book “Product Information Management – Theory and Practice”, Jorij Abraham defines product information management as the processes and technologies focused on centrally managing information about products, with a focus on the data required to market and sell the products through one or more distribution channels.

Product Information Management systems are used to manage simple product information and the documents required to sell and manage the product online – for example, the product name, the price, the product’s key attributes, or the product category.

PLM retail industry

Product Information Management Systems are essential for the consumer goods and fashion industries.

Pdm Vs Plm Vs PIM – Are PDM, PLM and PIM The Same?

But let’s be frank here. There’s thin line between PDM, PLM and PIM.

As products became more complex, many more systems were required to create and manage product-related information. While PIM systems could store and manage product IDs and descriptions, and PDM systems could handle part and drawing numbers, control access to data and release and change workflows, there was still a need for a more powerful system that could bring it all together and connect all of these pieces of information. 

As discussed before, Product Data Management systems were developed to manage CAD Product data more intelligently.

In his book, “Product Lifecycle Management, 21st Century Paradigm for Product Realisation”, John Stark describes a PDM system as “a computer system, an application, which manages product data, has the sole purpose of managing product data, and is used to keep all this product data under control”. According to Stark’s definition, every PLM system is actually a PDM system.

In fact, PDM systems are focused on CAD file data management and are typically attached to CAD products. PDM systems focus on data, revision and change management. Meanwhile, PIM systems have evolved into more complex systems that handle not only product attributes, but many different sets of information in different formats.

Today, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is widely seen an extension of PDM and PIM.

What PDM and PLM Systems are out there?

Product Data Management Systems

Now that we’ve covered the theory, let’s look at what PDM systems are out there:

  • SolidWorks PDM: Dassault Systems offers a simple PDM application called SolidWorks PDM. It’s used to manage data files and documentation from SolidWorks.
Product Data Management Systems
  • Vault PDM: Vault PDM is the native PDM application from Autodesk Products. It allows users to store and organize design data and documentation, maintain versions and revisions, reuse designs, and prevent multiple users from modifying the same document simultaneously.

Product Lifecycle Management Systems

Some of the bigger and most well-known Product Lifecycle Management systems are:

  • Aras PLM: Aras is a modern “CAD system-agnostic” PLM solution. It’s web-based and supports companies that need to manage product development, multi-site manufacturing, supply chain operations, and quality compliance in a flexible and scalable way.
  • DS 3DExperience: The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform from Dassault systems offers a broad portfolio of technical and business applications, such as CATIA and ENOVIA. The platform enables stakeholders across the enterprise to manage product complexity throughout the lifecycle. It’s one of the most powerful PLM systems out there.
  • SAP PLM: The well-known ERP provider SAP also has its own PLM solution. It provides all- round integrated support for all product related processes from the beginning of lifecycle and product ideation to manufacturing and service. SAP’s solution comes in handy for customers who are using SAP as their ERP system, as their ERP and PLM solutions are integrated.
  • Teamcenter: Teamcenter is Siemens’ PLM system. It connects people and processes across functional silos with a digital thread. Teamcenter is one of the most widely implemented PLM systems out there. 
  • PTC Windchill: Windchill is the PLM software from PTC. Windchill is well integrated with simulation tools and widely used by medium-sized enterprises.
Product Lifecycle Management Systems

Cloud PLM

The rise of cloud computing and open APsIs is changing the game for traditional PLM vendors and bringing in some promising new and smaller players. Cloud PLM vendors are here to fulfil the demand for the fast and smooth information flow and simplicity that modern businesses require.

Even if traditional PLM vendors have historically shied away from industry-specific solutions and flexible open architectures, we’re seeing a positive change towards simpler systems with modern user interfaces and industry-specific solutions that can cope with the online world we live in.

Some examples of Cloud PLM vendors include:

cloud PLM systems

What’s wrong with the PLM term?

Implementation failures, big budgets, and elephant-sized programs frighten executives and corporate types. When they hear the term PLM, they instantly bury themselves in the sand. Isn’t it “sexier” to talk about Digital Twins and Threads than using the old, boring, term PLM?

Industry 4.0, digital transformation, digital thread and twin are all new and shiny terms closely related to PLM.

Although (in my opinion) the term PLM describes what we do in PLM – managing products through the lifecycle – reasonably well, the truth is that these three letters together don’t come with a great reputation.

Still, PLM is trending nowadays. Enterprises are realizing that without a solid digital representation of the product, digitalization can’t be more than a colourful PowerPoint vision-board slide.

Product Lifecycle Management sets the basis for a consistent digital thread, keeps track of digital twins, and connects smart products and industries.

In short, it brings product data together and connects product information through the whole lifecycle.

Do we need a new name for PLM? I’m not sure. What I do know is that we’ll have to live with it for a long time to come!

What you need to know about onboarding your PLM users in new normal

working in the new normal

How to onboard your PLM new users and build habits that stick

Last week I had an interesting discussion with my friend Paula, who is overseeing a big PLM system deployment and had her first online training sessions earlier this month. She was disappointed that users didn’t understand the power of the system and preferred to stick to the old one, which was a much simpler and unsophisticated application.

They had invested a lot of time and money in developing a powerful system with many features, but users had a hard time understanding how they should work with it. She thought that the online training they prepared was the main reason why users weren’t engaging with the new system. She was convinced that traditional classroom training would have produced much better results.

I asked Paula some questions about how they had prepared the training, and it became clear that they hadn’t gotten the basics right. They were so excited about the new and powerful features that they jumped directly into advanced concepts and bombarded users with fancy stuff they didn’t understand.

What can we learn from my friend Paula’s experience?

It may be surprising, but user adoption of your PLM system depends largely on making a good impression during the PLM onboarding process. You need to focus on starting them off on the right foot – and now, with the new normal, this needs to happen online!

How to design an effective PLM Onboarding training

In Paula’s PLM deployment, people couldn’t see the value of the new system and became resistant to it immediately. How could she have designed a better digital onboarding framework to effectively train users and help them see the value in the new system?

Here’s a framework I find particularly effective when training new PLM users. It will help you onboard your new PLM users in a scalable way and make the impact you need to supercharge your PLM system adoption during the new normal!

plm training

1. Setup session

You may have learned not to judge a book by its cover, but in business and life, people still form an impression of a product or a company based on “how it looks”. This principle guided Steve Jobs to obsess about Apple’s product designs, even down to the packaging.

A user might decide whether the system is or is not for them based solely on the PLM system’s cover. They may shun the system simply because it appears boring, difficult to use, or uninteresting to them.

That’s why it’s so wise to invest in a one-on-one online setup session. Use this opportunity to make a great impression and show your users a “PLM system cover” that shines!

In this short session, you can help users set up their PLM system account. Show them how to check their roles and permissions, define their preferences and data sharing options, etc.

You can also walk your user through the basics: how to understand the PLM system’s user interface, perform a simple search, and frequently used functions.

I can guarantee that it’s worth investing in this type of coaching session. By guiding them to log in to the system and explaining the basics to them, you can make them feel “safe” and at ease during their first contact with the new tool.

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2. Onboarding Course

To help your users prepare for your online PLM training, create a short eLearning course that they can complete at their own pace. Let them explore the new PLM system and become familiar with it by themselves.

The length of your onboarding course is as important as the content. It shouldn’t take your users longer than 45 minutes to complete. Give them a quick rundown of the most important things to know when they’re getting started, such as:

  1. Answer “Why PLM?”
  2. Explain the “Big Picture” and how objects are connected in the system
  3. Give them a tour of the user interface
  4. Perform a quick search
  5. Filter information
  6. Change views
plm onboarding course

The goal of your PLM onboarding course is to improve your PLM onboarding experience and help users understand its value. Take a look at this onboarding course from our client Technia:

Awesome, right? You have only a short window of opportunity to make a good impression. Make sure you’re clear, and don’t overlook the power of a “beautiful cover” and good design. 

3. Guided Practice

Now that your users have mastered the basics, they’re ready to get down to work. A guided hands-on practice is, in my opinion, the most effective way to train your new users and build sticky habits.

But, as with any training tactic, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it.

PLM guided practice

1. Prepare Demo Data in Training Server

First things first: load your training server with relevant data to provide context.

I hear you – yet another server? For training?

Yes, I know it might require more work, but I’ve seen it once and again – training taking place in an empty Quality Assurance (QA) environment, where users can’t make sense of the data.

You want your training server to be as “real” as possible to keep your users in the right context. You also want your training data to stay on the server for a while, so your users can come back and practice. If you keep training data in QA, you’ll probably need to delete the data every time there’s a new release.

I personally recommend building a robust “digital thread” based on one of your products. You might be able to move the product structures from the production system or prepare a pilot project to help a product line model its data in the new system and use it to train users.

2. Prepare Exercises and Examples

As with any skill, practice makes perfect! Design relevant exercises to help users experience the onboarding process. Make sure the exercises represent all the pieces your users need to get a handle on the big picture.

And don’t forget to weave real-life examples into your online training. Give users specific use cases that will both help them understand the big picture and give them a reference they can return to with their own projects.

3. Set Up a Support Forum to Answer Questions

Set up a support forum to answer questions and get quick help. Most users will hit roadblocks when they start working with the new system. Your support team should constructively help users when they have questions or don’t understand a process. Expect and embrace mistakes!

Over time, you can create an FAQ based on the most typical questions, and organize the forum by functionalities or process.

4. Organize an Online Training to Guide the User through the Practice

It’s time to organize the online training that will hold your users’ hands through the guided practice.
Traditionally, training has always been done in a classroom. But in the new normal, one thing has become clear: the future is online.
Online training has some advantages: you can split it into shorter sessions and keep users interested and awake. You also don’t need to take users away from their jobs for too long, and they can practice at their own workstation.

I like the idea of preparing a webinar series for PLM online training.

How many webinars do you need? This depends on your PLM system and the concepts you need to explain. I would not offer more than 5 short webinar sessions for an onboarding training.
Not sure what your onboarding webinar series should include? Take a moment to consider these three questions:

  • What are the five top things users should know as they’re getting started?
  • What underlying concepts should they know to understand the big picture?
  • If you had to select 3 features to prove the value of the new system to your users, what would they be?

I like to start a training by explaining why the new system has been introduced and guide the users through a simplified data model. Then I help them log in, guide them through the user interface, and perform some searches. In further webinars, you might want to dive into document management, walk users through the CAD integrations, let them play with the PLM viewer, or go right into a BOM and show them how to change views, export reports, create a part, or add a document.

4. Support Session

After the guided practice, your users will probably have most of the tools and techniques they need to start working with the new PLM system. However, organizing an online support session a few weeks after the onboarding will be the icing on the cake.

When users start to use the system more, they might get dropped into a different BOM dashboard and wonder what they’re supposed to do next. This is where many users get intimidated and re-enter resistance mode.

In a support session call, you want to hold their hand softly and guide them through the real-life challenges. Use this call to give them tips and dive into more advanced features. You can also discuss their first experiences with the system, gather feedback, and make sure they’re on the right track.

Finding the PLM Onboarding Training that Works for your Company

Finding the most effective PLM onboarding training for your company is an iterative process. So, in order to create a repeatable strategy that works for your PLM, you’ll want to experiment with different tactics.

There’s no better time to start iterating on that strategy than right now.

Want help with planning the perfect PLM onboarding training? Schedule a FREE strategy session with us!

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