Common Attributes of Successful Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Implementations

PLM Implementation: Top 10 Success Factors

While the needs of each company going through a Product Lifecycle Manufacturing (PLM) implementation are unique, Saratech has identified success factors for all implementations, whether small, large, national, or multinational. We identified these success factors over more than a decade of implementations, and our team employs them in each PLM engagement. The details are not written in stone; at the close of an engagement, we conduct a post-mortem meeting where our team and the client speak openly about all aspects of the project lifecycle. When appropriate, we make refinements.


Here are highlights of the top 10 success factors:

Colleagues celebrating successful PLM Implementation

1. Executive sponsorship

Executives need to do more than allocate money toward change initiatives. They need to set a stage to energize and recognize the people impacted by the change. By announcing the project, acknowledging and appreciating the team’s work, communicating progress and sharing wins, they can help get and keep the team on board.


2. Champion/Key stakeholder

A PLM implementation will impact several departments within an organization. A champion/key stakeholder who has a vested interest in the success of the project can rally the support of other department leaders. They can provide information to help the other leaders communicate accurate and timely project details to their teams, and they can be a single-point-of-contact for questions.


3. Documented business objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A formal PLM solution will address many aspects of the product management, and different companies place greater value on some aspects more than others. By documenting business objectives, a company clarifies its specific goals. By documenting its KPIs, the whole team understands how and when success will be measured, and any needed adjustments can be made early in the process.


4. Proper expectations and prioritized plans to meet them

People have different thoughts on how a formal PLM solution will impact the way they work. Without documented expectations and tactical plans, individuals or departments may develop priorities that align with their thoughts instead of the company’s. By documenting company expectations and prioritizing activities, everyone will have the information they need to meet the overall objectives. Saratech strongly encourages a phased approach to deployments, dividing the project into smaller measurable activities reduces risk and allows for greater reportable success.


Saratech's "The Product Development Process: How to Improve it for Business Benefit" whitepaper


5. Integration strategy

An integration strategy will align the business with IT departments, helping to ensure that everything that needs to work together does. The strategy, which includes systems, data, processes, the Cloud and security, helps ensure that the new system will be integrated with existing technologies and processes as well as people who will be using it on a daily basis.


6. Reciprocal project management and project teams

In all projects as complex as PLM implantations, people in all levels and in all departments will have questions. It is critical that everyone is free to communicate, so issues can be addressed before they become problems. This reciprocal communication process keeps projects moving forward and maintains/improves morale.


7. Full time PLM administrator(s)

PLM administrators are responsible for supporting and maintaining the PLM system, which represents a significant company investment in time, people and money. To effectively perform duties that include configuring, testing, troubleshooting, and training, it is critical that they focus solely on their PLM duties. This focus helps them maintain a thorough understanding, and it helps the company get a stronger return on its investment.


8. Adequate hardware and IT support

When a company decides to move forward with a new PLM solution, it should take the time to identify any existing inefficiencies and make changes necessary to ensure it has the right hardware in place and the right support staff. With a solid foundation, an optimal solution is possible.


9. On-going adoption and training plan

A new PLM system will require people to make significant changes to the way they perform their job duties. It’s important to develop a plan that allows for initial training to get people started and then additional training to help them use advanced functions. An ongoing plan also documents when people are expected to be fully versed in the new software and provides a way to measure success.


10. A rolling strategic plan

It’s unlikely that an initial strategic plan will not require changes throughout the project. To respond quickly to disruptions and avoid frustrations, the implementation team should plan to revisit the strategic plan frequently to determine when changes are needed. Leadership should communicate all changes and the reasons behind them to everyone involved in the implementation.


Team with PLM System Experts

The details in the above critical success factors just scratch the surface of what it takes for a successful PLM implementation. They are complex projects with thousands of details to manage. Be sure to team with a PLM system expert like Saratech to achieve your expected business objectives.


Saratech's "Improving Your Company's Simulation Capabilities and Processes for Business Benefit" whitepaper