PLM Apps Benefit Business

EAC Productivity Apps | 15 March 2019 | Jessica Magelssen

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What are PLM Apps?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Applications (Apps) take data from your product lifecycle management software and combine it with data from your other enterprise solutions to create a single, accessible dashboard view (of all your data), that can be customized for any role within your organization. 

Essentially, PLM Apps offer a comprehensive, basic IoT scheme to connect to your equipment, collect data, begin data/alert/notification workflows, deliver role-based dashboards, and more.

Here are four ways that PLM system applications could benefit your business. 

PLM Apps, Systems, and more

Odds are, if your business is currently involved with the creation or production of any sort of product, you have likely heard of (or you might already be incorporating) product lifecycle management practices within your business. For those of you who are newer to the concept, product lifecycle management (PLM) often involves implementing software solutions referred to as product lifecycle management software, or systems. 

Product management software systems (such as PTC WindchillSAP PLMOracle Agile PLMTeamcenter PLMAutodesk Vault, Centric Software, Aras, etc.) are designed to manage your product’s entire lifecycle from ideation through engineering, design, manufacturing, service, and even the disposal of your manufactured products. Oftentimes, PLM software systems are implemented with the intention to integrate product data with other business processes such as manufacturing execution systems (MES), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and many other enterprise solutions. However, the reality turns out to be much more complex. 

PLM systems are complicated. These systems are complex due to their sophistication and immense capabilities.

In fact, due to the intricacy built within PLM, many companies commonly face challenges with PLM solution interfaces, features, integrations, data sharing, reporting, navigation, and user adoption. Soon enough the PLM technology lives in a ‘vacuum’. Sales and quality managers who don’t use it daily may find it difficult to use. 

Other employees might avoid using the PLM systems entirely, and even those who do access the product lifecycle systems daily may find it challenging to coach others who have minimal exposure to these tools. This is exactly why we hear many companies who are not fully entrenched within their PLM systems claiming, “PLM systems don’t deliver on business requirements” or “PLM functionality you expect doesn’t work”. 

The reality is – people and departments cannot perform their tasks in isolation. This is exactly where PLM apps add value to your business and streamline workflows.

1. PLM Apps promote cross functional alignment

Traditionally, functional areas within our businesses such as sales, marketing, finance, and operations specialize in different portions of organizational planning activities, which result in conflicts over expectations, preferences, and priorities.

Think about it for a second. 

Organizations tend to have isolated departments focused on different business objectives. They often use different data collection systems to accomplish unique tasks. While organizations may consider their teams to be functional, they may fail to recognize the efficiencies they could drive with full cross-functional alignment between and across teams. That or the cross-functional alignment that organizations initially targeted with product lifecycle management didn’t work out as well intended.

This is just one of the reasons PLM Applications are a game-changer.  PLM Applications break departmental silos by providing semantic interoperability, ultimately enabling cross-functional alignment. 

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s great.. but how exactly does that work?”

Or perhaps, “That’s exactly what I was told my PLM software was supposed to do” just came to mind. The reality is – PLM systems are completely capable of doing everything you had purchased them for, but training everyone in these complex systems is more than a chore. PLM Apps take the foundational features and functionality of your PLM systems and make them easy. 

The biggest advantage of these applications is that they actually motivate your siloed departments to utilize the technology investments you’ve already made. PLM Applications extract data from your existing enterprise software systems (such as ERPMRPPLM and more), combine that integrated data into easy-to-use interfaces, and enable role-based data access to any user who needs it.  

Check out a real-life example of how a fast-moving apparel industry made the product development process exponentially faster and more efficient with the use of mobile apps.

For example, purchasing departments spend most of their time within Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems creating purchase orders, checking stock levels, scrap/rework, etc. They commonly face challenges retrieving engineering data (such as PDF’sDXF’sand IGES) that are contained in systems controlled by engineering or IT. PLM system applications create self-serve user-based environments that integrate combined enterprise data into consumable interfaces for any end-user or role. 

Essentially, PLM applications build user interfaces that non-technical staff can actually understand. PLM Apps can also act as an extension to your existing engineering system, allowing your departments to retrieve drawings without having to ask or burden an engineer. In fact, PLM application interfaces can even be adjusted to display key purchasing information. They have the ability to retrieve all documents (such as PDF’s, DXF’s, IGES, and more) that are associated with a specific order or drawing file. 

Creating a self-service business environment for your departments allows purchasing to retrieve the correct drawings (PDF, DXF, IGES) without having to rely on engineering or configuration management.

This is just a few of the ways that PLM engineering applications can enable cross-functional alignment throughout your organization. 

2. PLM Applications simplify communication among distributed teams

Forget the need to run around and collect information from multiple departments in order to collect the data a business division needs to do its job. The infrastructure within PLM Apps allows for access/permission controls and change management

This means you no longer will need to disrupt other departments or coordinate schedules just to exchange information. Plus, by providing everyone with instant access to relevant and up-to-date product information all teams will be on the same page.

3. PLM Apps optimize all aspects of the manufacturing process

Once your siloed teams start to align, the communication between distributed departments becomes more efficient. Your business will be well on its way to optimizing your overall performance. By centralizing all aspects of your product data, your organization will notice relevant common grounds and establish open communications about areas for continuous improvement. 

PLM Applications make it easier to view and understand product data within one simple interface gather information from many systems; ultimately enabling your teams and your organization to make better and faster decisions.

Your team’s alignment and enhanced communication will create opportunities for action and better execution. Being able to access accurate data helps everyone maximize output, reduce costs, increase product quality, and get products to market faster.With actions that lead to better execution, your organization will see more success. 

4. PLM Apps drive accurate data

According to the Harvard Business Review, workers waste approximately 50% of their time locating data, finding and correcting errors, and searching for sources to confirm the accuracy of data. 

Can you believe that?! 50 percent! In addition to wasted time; inaccurate data inevitably leads to redundancy and inefficiency. 

Let’s put it in perspective. 

Essentially, we are talking about approximately half of the time and salary we are paying managers, decision makers, data scientists, and knowledge workers – gone because people have a hard time accessing data. This scenario makes it easy to see how bad data and complicated interfaces can cost an organization big – time, money and possibly reputation. PLM Applications can help protect you from the negative impacts of bad data.  PLM applications can help everyone access to one centralized data source – quickly, and easily. 

That’s right. One. 

By using only one source for data, your information will be easier to maintain and keep clean. You can be sure everyone is accessing data that is accurate, verified, and up-to-date. Besides, let’s not forget, data drives decisions. By using PLM applications to access and collect your data, your organization can be confident that the data you use for your day-to-day operations is data you can trust. 

Overall, PLM applications greatly promote cross-functional alignment throughout organizations, eliminate communication complications between distributed teams, optimize performance aspects within manufacturing processes, and centralize data to ensure accuracy. Think PLM applications could improve the way your business operates? Check out how EAC’s custom PLM applicationsEAC Productivity Apps – connect all aspects of your organization.