Selecting PLM Software Solutions Part 4 - Comparing 3 Vendors




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Executive Summary

Past experience shows us that the vast majority of enterprise technology evaluations run over time and budget, and once selected, the majority of the implementations fail to meet functional, return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) expectations. Many companies have consequently been stuck with under-performing software products and dejected users, and are still unable to gauge their system to determine how far they are from the ideal solution for their business requirements

Enterprise technology selections for ERP, CRM, SCM, and other enterprise applications provide valuable lessons that can be applied to selecting PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software, but there are some key differences that need to be recognized. In PLM, there is no single vendor that can meet all of the requirements, and the market is still immature, so almost every product can be the right solution provided a certain set of requirements. The Catch 22 for both buyers and vendors is to pinpoint the right opportunity in this ongoing "dating game".

Selecting a piece of enterprise application software has never been an exact science. Vendors' hype, consultants' potential conflict of interest and consequent bias, users' doubts, tediously long selection processes, and unclear decisions rationale are some of the unfortunate watchwords for the selection practice so far.

It is daunting for corporate IT buyers to discern the true capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of a given enterprise application suite, given the propaganda that pervades vendors' endeavors to differentiate themselves (see Beware of Vendors Bearing Solutions). When making strategic IT acquisitions, buyer's project teams, inundated with an abundance of available products and technologies, have a difficult time translating the content of glitzy marketing slides and grandstanding presentations into the deliverable products. Given the relative immaturity of the PLM movement, this problem can be compounded by user's lack of understanding of their business needs and documentation of the associated software requirements.

In Part One of this article, we discussed the lessons learned from previous enterprise software selections and how they apply to PLM.

In Part Two of this article, we reviewed the problems in selecting PLM software from the viewpoint of the Buyers and Vendors.

In Part Three of this article, we reviewed an effective RFI/RFP process that streamlines the selection process and avoids the pitfalls of past selection processes.

This is Part Four of a five-part tutorial, where we will apply the solution to a PLM evaluation analyzing 3 vendors who offer products to the PLM market.

Part One Lessons Learned from Previous Enterprise Software Selections

Part Two Overview of the Problems in Selecting PLM Software

Part Three Presents a Solution

Part Four Presents Examples of Applying the Solution

Part Five Makes User Recommendations

Thetis

An appropriate client for Thetis would have the following priorities:

Figure 10


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The rank and weighted average of the vendors given these priorities is as follows:

Figure 11

Rank Vendor Weighted average
1 Thetis 65.20
2 PDMware 45.98
3 IDe 22.18

Note the differences the priorities between Figures 5 and 10 and the impact that has on the results in Figures 6 and 11. . Thetis' weighted average increases as Engineering Change and Product Data Management become more important, and Process & Project Management and Portfolio Management become less important. This indicates that those clients whose businesses rely heavily on frequently changing product designs and integration of those changes into the company's manufacturing, purchasing, sales and support plans, but don't require strong portfolio management and project management tools to manage new product introduction processes, will want to be sure to include Thetis in their technology selection.

The graph below indicates the contribution to the weighted average for each vendor across the high level categories with Thetis' priorities.

Figure 12


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The Contribution Analysis graph indicates that given the priorities for an appropriate Thetis client, PDM, Engineering Change & Technology Transfer and Technology contribute the most to Thetis' weighted average. Note that the gap between the vendors' contributions to weighted average will change as a result of changing the priorities.

IDe

An appropriate client for IDe would have the following priorities:

Figure 13


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The rank and weighted average of the vendors given these priorities is as follows:

Figure 14

Rank Vendor Weighted average
1 Thetis 92.03
2 PDMware 55.81
3 IDe 38.74

Note the differences the priorities between Figures 5 and 13 and the impact that has on the results in Figures 6 and 14. . IDe's weighted average increases as Process & Project Management, Portfolio Management and Ideation & Requirements become more important, and design related functions such as PDM and design tools become less important. This indicates that those clients whose businesses rely heavily on managing the new product development and commercialization processes, but don't require strong engineering and PDM tools, will want to be sure to include IDe in their technology selection.

The graph below indicates the contribution to the weighted average for each vendor across the high level categories with IDe's priorities.

Figure 15


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The Contribution Analysis graph indicates that given the priorities for an appropriate IDe client, Process & Project Management, Portfolio Management and Ideation contribute the most to IDe's weighted average. Note that the gap between the vendors' contributions to weighted average will change as a result of changing the priorities. The gap between IDe's contribution and the other's is reasonable in those areas that have been prioritized highly given IDe's focus on product development.

PDMware

An appropriate client for PDMware would have the following priorities:

Figure 16


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The rank and weighted average of the vendors given these priorities is as follows:

Figure 17

Rank Vendor Weighted average
1 PDMware 49.6
2 IDe 47.8
3 Thetis 47

Note the differences the priorities between Figures 5 and 16 and the impact that has on the results in Figures 6 and 17.

PDMware's weighted average increases as the balance of the needs become well balanced and focused slightly more on traditional engineering requirements. This indicates that those clients whose business requirements cover the breadth of PLM and are looking to implement a PDM solution with extensions into PLM will want to be sure to include PDMware in their technology selection.

The graph below indicates the contribution to the weighted average for each vendor across the high level categories with PDMware's priorities.

Figure 18


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The Contribution Analysis graph indicates that given the priorities for an appropriate PDMware client there are well balanced needs. Note that the gap between the vendors' contributions to weighted average will change as a result of changing the priorities. The gap between PDMware's contribution and those of IDe and Thetis show that while PDMware may not be the best solution in all areas when taken individually, it is the best solution when there is a need for PDM and well-balanced requirements are given significant weighting

This concludes Part Four of a five-part tutorial on how to effectively streamline the PLM selection process. Part Five will present recommendations for users and vendors.

About the Authors

Jim Brown has over 15 years of experience in management consulting and application software focused on the manufacturing industries. Jim is a recognized expert in software solutions for manufacturing and has broad knowledge of applying Product Lifecycle Management, Supply Chain Planning, ERP, Supply Chain Execution, and e-business applications to improve business performance. Jim served as an executive for software companies specializing in manufacturing solutions before starting his consulting firm, Tech-Clarity Associates. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jim can be reached at jim.brown@tech-clarity.com.

Predrag Jakovljevic is a research director with TechnologyEvaluation.com (TEC), with a focus on the enterprise applications market. He has over 15 years of manufacturing industry experience, including several years as a power user of IT/ERP, as well as being a consultant/implementer and market analyst. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and he has also been certified in production and inventory management (CPIM) and in integrated resources management (CIRM) by APICS.

 
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