Implementing PLM? – Don’t Scrimp on Your Internal Resources!

Jo Hughesapparel plm, enterprise solutions, implementation

Implementation resources

Having spent the last few months implementing PLM in two different organisations, the moral of today’s story is “you get out what you put in”. The “what” in this instance being internal people.

For the purpose of this tale, and respectful anonymity, let’s call my two organisations Company A and Company B. Both Company A and Company B started implementing around the same time and the scope of the projects were not too dissimilar, both implementing the same PLM modules, both integrating to other internal business systems, both with a similar amount of users. Company A however, is bang on both time and budget and has recently gone live with phase 1, Company B on the other hand has had to push back their go live date and the budget is starting to drown in the murky waters of scope creep. So what went wrong I hear you ask? Let’s examine the two cases in hand and play a little game of spot the difference…

Company A
Company A assigned two internal people that knew their business inside out to help us define the new business process and system configuration. They provided examples of all existing documentation and coordinated the required data gathering from the various departments. One of these people was full time on the PLM project, being involved in every meeting, participated in all training sessions on the system and will be supporting the internal team during rollout.

Company B
Company B assigned two internal people that knew their business inside out to help us define the new business process and system configuration. They provided examples of all existing documentation but other members of the internal team, or even us, the implementers, were asked to gather the required data. These two people were not involved in the training on the system and new people have been brought into the business to support the internal team during rollout.

So what was the difference here that enabled Company A to meet deadlines and budget but made Company B fall by the wayside? Yep, that’s right internal resources, or to be more precise dedicated internal resources. By not having a dedicated internal resource, Company B put their project at risk. Implementing PLM is not so straight forward that people can dip in and out of the project. It requires an internal resource that understands the business in depth and understands the requirements of PLM. The only way to achieve this is to have consistency in the internal team, start to finish. People that are new to the project or new to the business cannot grasp the hidden complexities or detailed requirements to the level needed for the project to run on time, on budget and successfully go live.

Too often, we as the implementers are seen as something of magicians, or at the least assumed to possess some level of psychic abilities. We have the expertise to guide and coach but we need to be provided with the required data in a timely manner, such as grade rules, standards and library data. If we have new people coming in at every stage of the project we cannot magically transfer knowledge into their heads, it adds time and effort to get them up to speed.

What made company A the success story was having a dedicated internal resource. We were able to have a continuous point of contact to educate and support, which in turn equipped them to educate and support the rest of their team as they were brought into the project. This internal ownership is crucial so that reliance on the implementer can be naturally phased out so that both deadlines and budget are met and go live is a success.

Jo Hughes on sablinkedin
Jo Hughes
With a background in fashion design, Jo has worked with many international retail and apparel companies, implementing solutions to help them work more efficiently to develop products.

She has a detailed understanding of the apparel product development process and the supporting systems including PLM, PDM, CAD and 3D garment design.