Skip to the content

Coordinated vs Connected

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jos Voskuil, Founder of PLM consulting company Tacit, and more commonly known as the Virtual Dutchman. Jos has 20+ years of consulting experience in business-enabling IT solutions for engineering and manufacturing organizations worldwide.

In this free-form discussion, we spend some time talking about the human side of tech, digitalization, digital transformation, and Jos’ thoughts on coordinated vs connected ways of working with enterprise software solutions. I’ve expanded on some of our conclusions, in bold, below.


Why is Digital Transformation different thinking?

Jos views Digital Transformation as different thinking. The concepts and supporting technologies may evolve, but breaking with the past smoothly is critical. This happens through human interaction and changing mindsets, different thinking. Technology enables people to do more, faster, and keep clear records.

Jos uses a well-known slide from Marc Halpern at Gartner showing the evolution from PDM to Product Innovation Platforms with a stop along the way at Product Lifecycle Management; from which you can see the ways people change in their goals and habits along the same timeline. In addition, Marc shows the concept of moving in technology from integrating: coordinated, to collaborating: connected.  



So, what does it mean to be coordinated versus connected?

Essentially, it sums up the difference between having a fully digital way of working and a digital workflow.  

In coordinated work, you work along a process, and at a certain point in time you deliver information to the rest of the organization. Coordination is timing and information is often in written documents, like CAD or Word documents, etc.  

This is how many companies work today as opposed to the connected way. In the connected way of working, data is connected to each other and people are continuously contributing to the information of the product, or the total product record.

Model-based information takes shape, and critical data is no longer based just on digital documents. There must be a digital foundation with datasets. Because as Jos states, “digital twins don’t run on documents”. If you want to achieve digital twin across the enterprise, working in the connected way is not optional.


Achieving digital transformation in PLM

According to Jos, the major theme for digital transformation in PLM is leaving the coordinated approach. Otherwise, companies will never achieve an end-to-end reality.

But since many companies have a legacy enterprise software environment; whether PDM, ERP, PLM, and/or other systems, it is difficult to just install a new environment and abandon the old one. To move closer to a connected environment, companies need to reach a stage where they are learning more about the connected way of working and what it takes to get there.

Jos’ advice is to start small, pick a project, and begin your journey towards a more connected way of working. One way of doing this is to start with a hybrid environment, legacy + new, while working toward one environment.

We are often thinking we need ONE SYSTEM to rule them all. But PLM is not just a system. It’s mindsets and processes and depending on where you are at in your journey – eons of “the way we’ve always done it”. Legacy versions are designed for the coordinated approach.


Starting in a new environment, make a conscientious shift to move to the connected manner. This environment needs product data from the legacy system like parts, BOMs, etc. The beginning is the hybrid environment. People still have some dependency on the past as you shift to the future way of working. But if you migrate everything and don’t seize the opportunity to leave behind old business processes that are no longer serving you, enabling people to embrace the new way of thinking then all you’ve done is change technology, not transform.

Start by asking the common sense question, am I implementing the past or the future? If you truly are implementing the future, you have to become digital, learn digital, behave digital. How innovative you are will never come from your ERP. You must support your engineers with the best environment. Inspire your people about why this matters. This journey is not an implementation, it is a complete shift in the way teams think, interact, and behave. It takes time, just keep swimming.


What is your advice?

Are you considering leaving the coordinated way of working in favor of the connected? What are your key themes or stops along the journey? Do you have experience with migrating from one way of working to another and want to share your story with the community? Drop me a line, I would love to talk to you and help get your story out.


About the author

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore has more than 15 years of experience in Business Transformation across different industries. Her extensive experience includes helping companies navigate complex regulatory requirements through software solutions. She has been developing and deploying large, multi-faceted enterprise software project, driving revenues as well as market adoption.

comments powered by Disqus