Common Obstacles to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Conceptually, product lifecycle management seems like something that should be relatively easy to manage, regardless of the size of the organization. After all, doesn’t common sense dictate that if everybody does his or her job correctly, that every aspect of product development and manufacturing should run smoothly? Anyone who has ever developed and manufactured a product can tell you that isn’t the case at all. Product lifecycle management somehow always ends up being the stickiest, trickiest part of taking an idea from the drawing board to a finished product.
How many of these typical product lifecycle management challenges have your company had to deal with?
- The endless flood of product spec iterations makes it nearly impossible to keep manufacturing, purchasing, document control, and the supply chain up to date.
- Manufacturing and operations never seem to connect with the PLM development process in time, which often results in increased manufacturing costs.
- The supply chain never seems to be lined up in time.
- It is difficult—if not impossible—to accurately track and trend metrics that are pertinent to product lifecycle management.
- Training employees on the most current standard operating procedures (SOPs) is time consuming and the training courses are often inadequate.
- Product specifications and approved vendor information comes from a variety of sources, which makes it difficult for managers to see changes in product lifecycle management processes. Such problems typically result in excessive scrap and rework or purchasing decisions that aren’t based on the most up-to-date data.
With the Right Software, Your Company Can Eliminate Product Lifecycle Management Impediments
At minimum, a product lifecycle management software solution should provide advanced document control functionality and streamline enterprise-wide processes. With an integrated PLM software system, cross-functional teams throughout the enterprise should be able to effectively collaborate on documents. And if the system integrates with other commonly used software systems, company personnel may be able to collaborate using the applications they’re already familiar with and work with every day, meaning that they won’t have to be retrained on new product lifecycle management software.
If you’re shopping for a high-quality product lifecycle management software system to help you overcome some of the hurdles discussed above, be sure to look for features and benefits such as:
An Integrated, Web-based Platform: Your product lifecycle management system shouldn’t be subject to the constraints of geographic dispersion. A PLM system should serve as the single source for product definition and provide a central repository for all drawings, specs, manufacturing procedures, inspection criteria, marketing collaterals, bills of materials, etc., that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. In addition, the product lifecycle management software system should integrate seamlessly with other applications used throughout the organization on a regular basis (CAD, Microsoft Office, etc.) The PLM system should provide collaboration workspaces that have the capability to involve multiple departments, outside suppliers, and consultants. If the product lifecycle management software system features automated approval workflows, your organization can eliminate time that is often otherwise wasted waiting for approval signatures.
Accelerated Time to Market: If you have the right product lifecycle management tools, you can dramatically reduce administrative overhead through automated task distribution/tracking and achieve the ultimate objective of every manufacturing company: accelerate the time it takes to get a product to market. With the right PLM software tools, the entire development team is able to execute and communicate their tasks more efficiently, which means that products can be launched in less time.
Compliance Assurance: If your company does business in regulatory environments (FDA, ISO, etc.) it is mandatory that your product lifecycle management software system is designed according to regulatory guidelines and standards. The electronic PLM tools your company implements should allow regulatory specialists to participate in the development cycle and easily repurpose documentation for use in regulatory submissions. Technical dossiers should be able to be effortlessly assembled and maintained for CE marking, ISO certification, and so forth. In addition, companies that work with suppliers and vendors whose products are subject to compliance regulations need a product lifecycle management software system that automatically tracks supplier status and provides all supplier-related quality information through a single interface so that supplier information can be quickly and easily monitored and assessed.
Increased Management Oversight: Your product lifecycle management software system should act as a comprehensive solution, regardless of in-house capabilities or business scope. When managers can rely on a PLM software solution that ensures that all the documentation used in the manufacturing process is always kept up to date they are able to keep manufacturing costs low and get the supply chain lined up sooner.
Services Beyond Software: To maximize time and resource saving, a company needs a product lifecycle management software system that can get up and running quickly and a solution provider that has the appropriate services to back up the system it offers. The provider’s service professionals should be able to provide much more than just installation support—they should be able to help build processes, structure file systems, design forms, configure reports, and provide software validation assistance. Otherwise, your company may not be getting all the support services you need to reach your objectives.
Integration with Training Programs: A high-quality PLM software system can even act as a company’s training department in some cases. Whether it is individual training for new employees, execution of training tasks for revised SOPs, or educating an entire department on new processes that have been implemented, a product lifecycle management software system should be able to electronically manage the execution of training tasks and serve as a repository for training records.
For More Information on PLM
For more information about product lifecycle management or the PLM software solution that is right for your company, please feel free to contact a MasterControl representative.