PLM Implementations: Leveraging Industry and Platform Best Practices
PLM so-called ‘best practices’ are perhaps one of the best keep secrets, a.k.a. some sort of myths as some like to call them. Following best practices assumes that they exist in the first place… Creating or busting myths can be tricky: 1) myths are by definition not real, even the rational ones can be impossible to realize and leading to disappointment; and 2) busting myths can lead to the exact opposite effect as they might encourage contradiction and conflict.
In some industries, it makes sense to refer to ‘good practices’ as they suggest leveraging out-of-the-box operating procedures, following process and implementation guidelines, re-using them across organizations and across a given industry. The fact is that every organizations are different. PLM typically platforms come pre-configured, ready to use, ready to be adopted. There are also good practices on what and how to configure, customize and integrate PLM platforms and associated apps into the wider enterprise landscape—to suit contextual requirements.
In this post, I elaborate on best practices for PLM adoption, whether they exist or not, what do they mean, how they contrast with what is commonly called good practices—debating the fact that best practices can sometimes be misleading and misinterpreted.
Best practices and good practices are two principles that can be easily confused.
On the one hand, best practices is what an organization expect when purchasing enterprise platforms and associated implementation services: based on how the solution is put together by editors, how it is to be implemented by system integrators… considering how to maximize value from PLM investment, what process are automated, what out-of-the-box business rules and industry specific behaviours are embedded into the solution, how effective configuration, customization and integration enhance and foster adoption and future maintenance.
On the other hand, good practices typically referred in industries as GxP where “x” stands for the relevant field of expertise or discipline (such as manufacturing, storage, clinical, laboratory, agricultural, distribution, etc.): it is a common way to address alignment with regulatory requirements and industry standards in a given domain across the 5Ps (people, process, procedures, product data, premises and equipments).
Best practices and good practices do not oppose each other—neither are best practices the better version of good practices. Best practices come from experience embedded into a given pre-built solution or in the form of experienced advisory services; whereas good practices often come from common sense and generally accepted practices within a given industry or discipline.
Best practices are experience-driven, hence very much contextual
It always sounds great to discuss how to re-use best practices from a given project to another. The fact is that it is not always easy due to context. Best practices refer to thought leadership and associated decisions that are typically derived from:
Industry experience: based on maturity of a given sector or disciplines, certain things must be done in a specific manner to maximize value.
Platform development experience: solution editors have a certain approach to building solutions; hence they have their own ‘best practices’ embedded into their offering portfolio; that is why most PLM, ERP or MES implementations start with a fit-gap analysis discovery to assess where implementation challenges might be.
Process experience: business workflows and automation requirements are driven from the organizational requirements for simplicity, integration, speed, accuracy, approach to decision-making; hence not always easily transferrable.
Business change and solution implementation experience: for example, system integrators are expected to bring trusted advisory and leadership services to organization looking for strategic enterprise platform deployment; how to avoid mistakes, how to minimize disruption, how to implement lessons learned that can be transferrable from past projects?
The best way to do something can be time-bound, tactical or strategic in nature based on the available budget, expertise or time.
Good practices refer to general standards, hence somewhat accepted guidelines
Compliance is critical in every industry. In some, like medical devices and pharmaceutical sectors, good practices are essential guidelines to demonstrate regulatory, health and safety, and other quality standard alignment.
“Quality should be built into the product; and testing alone cannot be relied on to ensure product quality.”—US FDA
For example, ISO standards are typically developed to support good regulatory practices: they inform how things should be done to ensure quality expectations and to prevent or reduce failures. They are internationally recognized standards, developed and agreed by independent or consortium of field expects.