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I feel sorry for people having to select PLM software

Choosing a PLM system is a difficult task. It is hard, sometimes almost impossible, to identify the best technology to fit your specific needs.

A quick look at the websites of almost every PLM software giant reveals that they can solve every challenge and requirement – regardless of industry or scope. How can you qualify their offering against the needs of your organization?

Whether you are in the market for the first time or have made selections in the past, PLM software selection processes follow the same pattern. Like a bad habit, the same steps are repeated. The same vendors are invited to perform their demo sessions. And in 9 out of 10 cases, the same vendor is chosen to deliver their solution.

 

This pattern keeps repeating itself, mainly for two reasons:

1. Exceptionally good marketing efforts

2. Even better demo session skills. Software giants like PTC and Dassault have enormous presales-departments and are extremely good at building wonderful demos, that convinces the potential customer that they have the right solution to fit the customer’s needs.

The only problem is that most of the bells and whistles that are being showcased in the demo is not an offering in their software solution. It has been built to fit a demo environment, but not the customer’s environment.

In other words, the vendor has manufactured a dream scenario to convince the customer. But as we all know, dreams are not the same as reality.

To be honest, I find it a disgraceful practice to present features, capabilities and other functions that are not even a part of your software offering.

 

 

When reality kicks in

Remember the story of Ericsson’s catastrophic PLM failure where Dassault was involved? Or the PLM mess at Jaguar Landrover?

Despite these examples of outcomes for these PLM projects, it seems that people continue to select the same IT systems and the same way of implementing these IT systems.

The reason behind it? Clever marketing. Very good work by the presales team. Wonderful demos. But alas. What does it matter if the final PLM implementation has to be stopped because of failure?

 

Here’s what you should do instead:

Find out who best fits your specific requirements by focusing on these key areas:

  • Requirements Gathering

Developing the requirements specification is the most time-consuming part of the software selection process. However, a gap analysis based on a comprehensive requirements specification is essential to selecting the software that will return the greatest value to the organization.

Many people don’t realize that while users know their pain points only too well, they have little idea of other requirements. One of the best ways to flesh out requirements is by examining the features of multiple software products that could be purchased and then rewriting those features as requirements.

 

  • Talk to IT about the implications of adding new technology to your stack. 

Address any potential challenges and costs of getting new platforms and tools into your IT architecture, including data migration issues, security challenges and more. Bring this information to stakeholders as necessary so everyone’s on the same page.

 

  • Think about what customization may be required. 

Figure out whether you will have to tweak vendor solutions to make them relevant to your business, and whether that might affect other variables like increased workloads, learning curves and costs.

Research, research, research!

 

  • Review common feature sets of the category of software you are looking for. 

Contrast different vendor options and look carefully at what each one does and doesn’t do. Talk to the market. Talk to current customers of each software. Ensure that you have a full overview of what software would be the right fit for your needs.

 

  • Read buyer’s guides and updated market reports on the software category you’re evaluating. 

Look for particular criteria that have helped other businesses to make selections. Understand what’s important about the software, and how the best companies put the right features into their platforms. A buyer’s guide is like a summary: it presents the main points for you and helps you to imagine how a product might help, or what might go wrong in implementation. Link to our buyer’s guide.

 

I am always open for a good conversation, feel free to reach out to me!

 

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About the author

Leon Lauritsen

Leon has worked with multiple IT systems from ERP to BI and PLM. His experience ranges all the way from programming to business consulting, project management and business development. Leon started his career in IT development and has further earned a diploma in IT and Economics at Copenhagen Business School and an Executive MBA at Henley Management College.  

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