Has the organisational use of PLM been adopted wider across a business or is it predominantly used by Engineering functions?
Summary of Findings
Who in your organisation uses PLM?
Usage of PLM must break out of Engineering functions. This will allow businesses to gain greater value using product information.
The largest user group of PLM indicated by the respondents was Engineering and/or Research and Development (R&D) departments which represented 26%.
17% indicated that Product Management functions in an organisation were users of their PLM application.
12% of respondents indicated that Service and Support functions used PLM.
59% of the respondents indicated that PLM was used by Engineering1 functions within the organisation. This is most likely due to the legacy focus of PLM applications in these functional areas.
A high usage was indicated in Product Management areas of an organisation. Their usage should be further explored in future surveys.
The use of PLM in supply chain functions and in the aftermarket2 is low compared to other functional areas. It should be explored further if this is due to other applications containing product information and whether they are connected to PLM.
What information does your PLM system contain?
The more information PLM contains across the lifecycle of a product, the more value an organisation can gain from PLM and is indicative of broader use in a business.
The core of information typically held in PLM systems is traditional Engineering Information which represented 33%.
Manufacturing and quality information accounted for 35% of the responses
11% of respondents stated that their PLM systems contain Service and In-field information
68% of the respondents indicated that PLM was used store Engineering3 information within the organisation. This is most likely due to the legacy focus of PLM applications in these functional areas.
Limited information was stored outside of Engineering, especially about the product once it was manufactured, limiting the through lifecycle usage of the system. This information may be stored in other business applications.
What best describes the usability of your PLM system?
The usability of PLM is often seen as the main barrier for wider adoption in an organisation, especially if significant investment in training is needed to enable its productive usage.
49% of respondents believe their PLM system is difficult to use and it takes time to understand.
In addition, 37% of respondent have specified that their PLM system is “Complex” and requires specialist training.
4% of respondents have by-passed the vendors UI with their own developments.
Since training is required in 86% of the responses, we can conclude that PLM vendors still have not managed to develop a straightforward, user friendly interface.
PLM’s usability is a clear barrier to wider adoption.
The time to understand the PLM system needs to be considered when implementing. An initial efficiency loss needs to be factored into any ROI calculations due to training and adoption curves.
Since 4% of respondents have developed their own UI, it would be interesting to understand what was their rationale and what were the benefits.
The paradox is that 96% of companies still stick with the vendor UI’s even if it is complicated. This implies that developing your own UI is both complex and expensive (short and long term).
How is the information inside of PLM mainly accessed in your company?
PLM can store and process large quantities of information, but that information is meaningless if it can not be accessed by users and applications.
53% of respondents have indicated that they only access their data through solutions provided by the vendors.
17% of respondents have integrated ERP with PLM systems and access through ERP.
In 15% of cases, prints and offline spreadsheets are still the preferred way to consume PLM information.
13% of companies have developed in-house apps.
Although prints and offline spreadsheets are slowly phased out, it is concerning that in 2017, 15% of the respondents still indicate they are mainly using these off-line tools.
Despite the complexity of the PLM tool usability (see previous section), the majority of users still mainly use the tools and solutions provided by the vendors. With the usability challenges, it can be inferred that it is still more cost efficient to use the vendor UI rather than developing your own to increase usability.
1Engineering functions are defined as Engineering R&D, Manufacturing and Quality 2Aftermarket is defined as Service and Support, functions which support the end user in the field 3Engineering functions are defined as Engineering R&D, Manufacturing and Quality