James White, VP of Product, Duro

PLM has been too hard and too expensive for too long, causing hardware engineers frustration and missed deadlines. Inevitably this results in mistakes, costly product defects, and ballooning costs to the company. To address these pain points, many manufacturers are looking for PLM cloud solutions because the benefits are compelling. However, “Cloud” and PLM come in various flavors, so manufacturers must consider which cloud is right for PLM, and be open to working differently.

Most industrial manufacturers believe that their engineering processes are corporate Intellectual Property (IP) and are unique and special, but rarely is that actually true. Still, many manufacturers have spent fortunes customizing PLM to automate these processes while non-engineering parts of the business have moved swiftly to the cloud to avoid customization altogether. Why is PLM lagging behind?

PLM lags behind other enterprise business systems moving to the cloud often because of the large “technical debt” associated with the customization of:

  • User Interface (UI) to give a “right-for-me” experience
  • Complex workflows
  • Legacy Forms, Templates
  • Plugins to other tools/systems e.g. CAD, ERP
  • Core PLM application software

This ever expanding debt burdens the organization and like any form of debt, must be paid back. The only way to “pay back” a PLM technical debt is to retire the customization because it’s too expensive to maintain and makes the manufacturer less agile. Are PLM cloud solutions the answer?

For a customized PLM to move to the cloud, one of the following two paths is usually chosen:

  1. Reengineering the old customized PLM into a hybrid on-prem/cloud PLM, or a containerized traditional PLM system running in the cloud.
  2. Retire some/all of the old customization in favor of an out-of-the-box Cloud-Native PLM to fully gain the benefits of Cloud. This can mean changing the way people work.

For large complex manufacturers with decades of governance policy, alternative #1 may be the only choice. Choosing #1 continues the customization journey (and technical-debt).
For fresh agile startups who are scaling fast, there are no governance policies to follow and agility is the main business imperative, so #2 is ideal in these cases.

In the hyperscaling hardware market, much of the product content is sourced externally and changes frequently. Native PLM cloud solutions provide the needed agility but must provide seamless access to external suppliers as well.

Benefits of Cloud-Native PLM:

      • Low/No technical debt means low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
      • Always on the latest version
      • Everyone uses the same software Out-of-the-Box (OOTB)
      • Practically infinite scalability
      • Simple User eXperience, User Interface (UX/UI)
      • High security, availability provided by an ISP 24/7 (eg Google GCP)
      • All customers benefit by OOTB industry best practices
      • “Right-for-me” personal preferences are achieved by each user using configuration not customization

     

    Conclusion

    1. Cloud-Native PLM helps hardware companies scale by enabling engineering agility, lowering the technical debt, and therefore TCO of PLM.
    2. To achieve a “right-for-me” or personalization of the PLM experience, users merely configure the PLM system, rather than customize it. This is similar to the way someone configures their smartphone or car seat to suit their personal preferences.
    3. “Cloud-Native PLM” is different to “Cloud PLM” because only Cloud-Native is engineered from the beginning for the cloud. There is no legacy code to dilute engineering resources.
    4. Native PLM cloud solutions can be enabled in days, not months.