When selecting a PLM system it’s easy to get distracted by the ‘bells & whistles’. By ‘bells & whistles’ I mean those cute little features and functions that look great – and seem very appealing – but you never end up actually needing or using.
Most of the real benefits that you get from PLM are dependent on how you implement. Of course you need a solution that has the right breadth and depth to support your business processes, but like any tool it’s how you use it that makes the difference. It’s not the tool as much as the skilled hands of the carpenter – or – anyone can buy the same software. Your results are dependent upon you.
The implementation of some PLM systems will end up costing many times the original software license cost to get it fully implemented. Some of this may be due to the PLM system requiring a lot of addition software coding to meet specific needs or requirements, which adds complexity, time, and cost. Some may also force a significant investment in expensive additional hardware.
But, there are also PLM systems that are faster and easier to implement because they rely only on configuration rather than expensive complex software coding. There are PLM systems available that are web enabled, or run on low cost Wintel servers, or those that require even more expensive hardware.
My advice to anyone entering into a PLM selection process is to either make sure they ask plenty of questions around the implementation including asking vendors for examples of previous projects and references or to use an experienced PLM selection consultant. Remember that Total Cost of Ownership is much more than just the cost of acquisition.
Think of it like an iceberg – much of the implementation time and cost can often be hidden below the waterline when watching the vendor demonstrations. And bear in mind that all vendors probably have one or two rapid go-live examples. However do these represent normal – or they the exceptions? And what was the scope of that project?
At Lawson, we recently did some analysis on our PLM implementation projects over the last couple of years. The average services costs for implementation were significantly less than the initial license cost and our average project length to go-live was around 5 months, with the shortest being weeks and the longest (very big project and company) coming in just over 1 year. The difference in project generally comes largely down to the scope and how much effort and resource the client is able to dedicate in the implementation time period.
We would not claim to have to the lowest license price or the shortest implementation, however, we do believe we offer a low total cost of ownership (TCO). So when evaluating PLM, remember to consider:
1. The total cost of ownership rather than just the cost of acquisition.
2. What you actually need versus what looks good in the demonstration – and you might never use.
Drop me a note at Robert.Mckee@lawson.com if you would like to know more about the Lawson Fashion PLM solution.Robert McKee
Industry Strategy Director