Product Management Goes “Hi Tech” with PLM
For many years I was a product manager at Bell Labs. We used three ring binders, ISO 9000 (and then 9001) standards to ensure quality and a lot of Microsoft Excel(TM) and Microsoft Project(TM) worksheets.
The hardest part of the job was keeping the status up to date and making sure that all of the members of the team — both direct and matrixed (e.g. our counterparts in sales, marketing, support, etc.) knew what they needed to know so we could get to market on time and on budget.
Boy have times changed.
Major software players now offer something called PLM (short for Product Lifecycle Management). Lifecycle is the key word here. The software helps any type of product manufacturer (from shoes to NASA’s next generation space ship) from idea through design and manufacture, update cycles, service and support needs and even end of life decisions.
Back “in the day” at Bell Labs we worked on a six month cycle — which included everything from “patch releases” (bug fixes) to major next generation and even the generation beyond it planning that went out at least three years. That isn’t easy to do with three ring binders!
PLM promises to do for product development what ERP did for the factory floor and supply chain.
The article “What is PLM?” outlines the advantages companies can expect by using PLM software:
- Shorter Time to Market
- Better product quality
- Reduction in prototyping costs
- Savings through the re-use of the original data
- A framework for product optimization
- Savings in reduction in wastage.
- Savings through the complete integration of engineering workflows
As an ex-product manager the biggest bang for the buck potential based on my experience is
- faster time to market
- fewer missed dates
- fewer “mis-matches” in PM / stakeholder expectations and engineering
- better quality control
In January of 2008 the Gartner Group released a report entitled “Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Product Life Cycle Management, 4Q07.” where they list Siemens PLM, Dassault Systems, PTC, Autodesk, Oracle and SAP as providers of PLM software.
Siemens (formerly UGS) is rated the highest. Oracle acquired Agile (if you’ve heard of Agile). Gartner dropped Infor because their revenue was too low this past year — but if you are just learning about the various options you might want to consider looking at them.
In these economic times where the stock market is fluctuating and we may be heading for a recession any tool that can help you cut costs while getting to market faster PLM should definitely been on your radar to consider.