PLM Is Complicated. Here are 5 Reasons Why That Shouldn’t Scare You


“Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Albert Einstein

How often do you see a new technology boast that it lets you perform a task in a matter of seconds? Or reduces a complex series of decisions to a single click? In every industry, companies are falling over themselves to create the simplest possible solution to a problem. Sometimes, the results are amazing, using automation and smart design to cut out unnecessary steps and get you to your destination sooner. Take Google’s click-to-call feature, for example, whereby you can click a business’ phone number directly from your search results, without manually entering it. That’s a clear example of a process that has been improved with a little simplification. A clean and elegant solution is one thing. The problem comes when companies confuse ‘making simpler’ with ‘oversimplification’. When they cut useful functions rather than unnecessary steps, or throw out important nuance and detail in order to create something that’s easy to use… but doesn’t actually do the job as well as it once did. In other words, they follow the first part of Einstein’s famous quote – things should be as simple as possible – but ignore the crucial second part: but no simpler. The fact is, PLM is not only complex, it’s one of those things that ought to be complex. … Streamlined, yes. Impeccably and intuitively designed, certainly. But never, ever dumbed down. That’s because PLM reaches into every nook and cranny of your business, bringing together myriad departments and multiple processes in order to get a product to market on time. A worthwhile PLM platform will track every state your product passes through on its journey. It will be open to input from employees and stakeholders from all across the organization, and perhaps others further along the supply chains, too. These people will likely be scattered across different locations, perhaps even different time zones and continents. If it’s going to do the job properly, and if it’s going to make it possible for you to adapt, innovate and future-proof your company over time, it will need to be flexible, customizable and complex enough to support these intricate networks and needs. That simply isn’t something you can achieve with a ‘one-click’ solution. Just because something is complex, though, doesn’t mean it’s scary. The complexity of your PLM is what gives it the power and potential to serve your business best. By harnessing this, you’ll be able to implement a system that turns a confusing jumble of overlapping and inefficient processes into a neat, elegant, transparent, straightforward-to-manage system. Here are five reasons not to fear it.

1. You Get Complete Visibility Over the Process

Through its intricate web of connections, a top PLM platform joins everyone in your organization to an up-to-date, single version of truth. It helps the whole team to keep track of progress, avoiding duplicated efforts and improving productivity. It stores information systematically, allowing for easy retrieval. It helps you spot problems on the horizon. It improves efficiency and innovation. Yes, it might take careful planning to get this set up just right – but trust us, it’s worth it.

2. You Can Customize It Any Way You Like

PLM systems can be out-of-the-box solutions, but they’re usually better when they aren’t. Most organizations implement theirs in a unique and highly customized way, helping them achieve precisely what they need to do as a company.

3. You Can Integrate With Everything

No doubt you already have your own ERP and CRM systems in place – and the good news is, introducing a PLM platform doesn’t mean adding another totally separate system to the mix. You can integrate and synchronize your processes to make it as easy as possible for your team.

4. You Can Lean On Your Provider’s Expertise

You may be thinking that migrating vast swathes of legacy data to your PLM system is a huge task. You’re right. However, while you might not know where to start with it, a top PLM vendor will have done this countless times before, honing a perfect systemic approach along the way. Get them to help you manage the switch using their proven methodology and it will seem a lot less intimidating!

5. You’ll Get Help With Onboarding

PLM providers know that rolling out a complicated system and that trying to get everyone in the company to use it is a big job in itself. The best ones will never put you in that position – they’ll take a lead role in training people to use the tool, explaining the benefits to specific departments, and onboarding people across the organization so that you reap the rewards, fast.

Final Thoughts…

“Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.” – Alan Parlis

Your PLM is a complex beast, but its purpose is to make everything else in your organization simpler. Once you’ve completed the delicate job of implementing it just right, you’re rewarded with a single, reliable, current database for the whole organization, which geographically scattered users can all connect to. Effectively tracked changes throughout the cycle. Logical versioned data to eradicate duplicated effort. A system that stops any product from slipping through the net and hitting the market without proper sign-off. A streamlined and efficient system to help you get products out there first. This kind of business transformation is well worth navigating the complexities of a powerful PLM… and with the right provider to help you implement it, you don’t need to be Einstein to get it as simple as possible, too. 

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