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Product lifecycle Management (PLM) systems can be very powerful data management tools, but the reality is that they are highly complex and that the setup, customization and maintenance of PLM systems can be very expensive. Many customers of PLM start off with the good intent of fully utilizing all the features of the software, only to be later overwhelmed by the size of the task of a complete PLM implementation, and ultimately end up using only a fraction of the total system features.
Problems with the economy are now forcing businesses to justify recurring costs more closely, and the maintenance fees (3rd party cost and internal company expense) for maintaining PLM systems will receive close scrutiny. Companies may want to consider what options they have available.
It may be time to migrate away from your PLM system that performs ECM functions, particularly if the original justification was based on using more specific product life cycle management capability and driven by time to market expectations that are no longer valid assumptions.
It is not a question of going without system maintenance, which is a very bad idea (kind of like driving with bald tires). Rather, this is the time to reconcile whether or not the PLM system expense is overkill for the operation and could be better served with core Enterprise Content Management (ECM) functionality at a much lower price; in other words, time to bite the bullet on the impractical expense and get practical. This is more true when those same companies are facing difficult painful force reductions that would be detrimental in terms of losing the key intellectual capital and internal know how versus losing some PLM system functionality not being used.
It may be a bit humbling for internal PLM champions to step back from the vision, but given what is occurring in the markets, there is a good reason to step back, adjust, and reconcile.
It’s not about changing systems or moving to a less functional system. The idea is to qualify the current capability, the cost benefit, and the forecasted expense to maintain, and see if it is worth losing key personnel in its place.
For over twenty years Formtek has been providing enterprises with “unbreakable” ECM functionality on multiple platforms in multiple languages storing multiple content types at a reasonable price. In many cases and given its open architecture, the Formtek ECM tool goes unnoticed as it is embedded and integrated within enterprise systems and process (just the way we like it).
Today, ECM is the right game plan for satisfying compliance requirements while providing a lower cost alternative to PLM. And while there have been previous situations where companies have migrated away from their ECM repository to a PLM tool, I am now anticipating a reverse course change.