Over the past 6 months I’ve been blogging about Enterprise PLM in a series called PLM as the Enterprise Backbone: Emerging with Advantage. A PLM enterprise backbone anchors all enterprise systems around a forward view of a company’s product and market strategy.
Today, the most competitive corporations are establishing their market strategies based on new product portfolios, as well as the manufacturing platforms and sourcing strategies that support them, and are integrating their PLM systems across all critical functions.
To conclude this series I will emphasize what Enterprise PLM means for the fourth pillar of the enterprise backbone: integrated product and market launch, and will tie it all back together.
(As a side note, I must admit it has been a challenge for me to keep in the informal and chatty style of 3D Perspectives, but I’ll do my best. You see, my father in his day was a power systems engineer, and both my brothers have been practicing engineers (electrical / electronic and civil / environmental). My forte in life took the path of a profession in corporate strategy and technology management, rather than engineering itself, but I still think my family legacy is hard to shake off . . .)
Product Market Launch & Integration
A repeatable product launch capability that builds core competencies and competitive advantage requires integration and coordination among multiple functional areas, including product design, procurement, finance, planning, manufacturing, services, sales and marketing.
Organizations not only need to integrate internally to support product launches, but also externally with suppliers, distribution channels, and customers, creating end-to-end supply chain and aftermarket processes and capabilities which differentiate on product and customer requirements.
For example, without PLM integration new product programs have been known to get placed on hold until the technical documentation important to downstream activities (channel sales, marketing and after-market support), can be updated to the final versions of the released product.
Imagine what happens when management in a product launch readiness review meeting realizes that final changes to the product still haven’t been pushed to technical documentation for manufacturing and aftermarket service to use, and the data sheets for sales haven’t yet been updated.
It becomes clear to the business that the launch is not feasible until these updates to the technical documentation have been completed. Critical market timing windows can be missed by such a delay to market launch.
For highly engineered individual, small batch or engineer-to-order projects, for example, in shipbuilding, aircraft, or plant engineering, there are similar new product introduction requirements for project completion, bringing the systems online, and maintaining them through their extended life. Contract delivery delays can be equally costly to the business.
Integrated Launch from PLM
Product launch planning and execution, while a discipline itself, needs to be integrated to PLM as part of a company’s overall new product introduction capability.
The text-box below on Integrated Launch Planning defines the major components. Integrating the PLM system for launching the new product across operations, services, marketing, packaging and labeling, as well as other customer and end-user facing systems further leverages the virtual 3D models, product data and PLM business processes.
On this basis, there is the same source of information that is kept up to date and shared appropriately through user-role access controls, improving quality and cost, as well as reducing launch timing delays.
Market / Business Planning and Commercial Readiness
As the new product program moves through development it is important to be able to readily gauge the product readiness against the program market segment requirements, product positioning, and pricing / cost targets. Late changes to the product can impact manufacturing readiness and costs, as well as the business targets and brand strategy established for the project.
Integrated PLM systems can manage this risk from late program changes.
Downstream Sales, Services and After-Market Integration
As the product is prepared for launch, sales and service organizations are mobilized with documentation and processes to sell and support the product in the field.
- Advanced PLM systems are able to provide technical documentation online and in interactive 3D formats.
- Virtual training environments can leverage these models to gear up the workforce across all functional areas to improve the timing, quality and to reduce re-work or scrap in their functions.
- Technical brochures for marketing, sales enablement and channel readiness also need to have the most up-to-date product definition, value propositions, and product positioning information.
Enterprise PLM as a Market Driven Core Competence: Tying it all Together
Companies invest in PLM to support all internal and external functions that need to use the program and product data, as well as the 3D virtual models. New product development processes and product launch activities are the roots of growth and success in most industries, and are core to competitive advantage.
Companies that systematically integrate PLM across their other enterprise systems (ERP, MRP, CRM, and SCM) can drive repeatable processes based on this integration. By continually improving their success rate of market launch, they will drive their markets in a way that others will not easily challenge.
The figure below depicts the market dynamics of firms competing with a tightly integrated and repeatable launch process over traditionally managed firms that do not establish PLM as an enterprise backbone. In this case the company with Enterprise PLM is able to consistently achieve a price / performance advantage over its traditionally organized rival.
Companies that base their product launch cycles with PLM as an enterprise backbone will be able to be a technology generation ahead of their competition in a short period of time. It is on this basis that companies can leverage enterprise PLM systems to ‘emerge with advantage’ from this current global downturn and nascent recovery.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
PLM as the Enterprise Backbone: Emerging with Advantage
PLM Enterprise Backbone Pillar 1: Product Portfolio Management
PLM Enterprise Backbone Pillar 2: Working with the Supply Chain
PLM Enterprise Backbone Pillar 3: Sustainable Development and Regulatory Compliance