In my recent article – 5 Things PLM Vendor Won’t Tell You But Should, I discussed things that usually are falling off the main agenda of PLM sales and planning meetings. As some of my readers rightfully mentioned – companies better do some planning before going to speak to vendors.

….these 5 points show very nicely how important the consultation part is even before the actual project starts. And it also shows that some of the main themes of any given PLM project have almost nothing to do with technology, but rather the need for a transparent and well-communicated roadmap (with everyone’s approval)

While I’m in total agreement about the importance of planning and consultation, I’m concerned about how to get the right balance between new tech and people for PLM projects. And this is a very typical conundrum I can see in many organizations coming to adopt PLM technologies and products. What should come first – People or Technology?  What roles PLM technological platforms will play and how to develop a methodology to help companies to adopt PLM products and technologies. I can often hear that “PLM technologies” are fine and we have them enough- let’s fix the people. But on the other side, we have software vendors and tech developers telling us that we need to improve the technologies to make them faster, cheaper, better, etc?

So, where to start and how to identify what steps a company should take in their PLM (or how it often called now, digital transformation) roadmap and projects?

I found, consulting people usually have problems with the Deming 95/5 rule. The rules say – 95% of the variation in the performance of a system is caused by the system itself. Only 5% were caused by people. This means that 95% of the performance of an organization is attributable to the system (processes, technology, work design, regulations, etc.), and [only] 5% is attributable to the individual. Although the following video is a bit long by my standards, I recommend you to watch it because it is very entertaining.

Deming’s point is that even if an individual might have an impact on the process, their influence on the system is merely significant. Any variability you can see is just a part of the system overall. So, you can bring new team members, managers and motivate them with the best slogans about PLM methodology. But the key is to have an automated programmed system that can do the job that is well defined to do a job in a systematic way.

On the other side of the conundrum is consulting and people’s dilemmas. I’ve been working with many consulting people and also, had a chance to consult other people and companies. Gerald Wienber consulting laws are one of the most fascinating and interesting. Here are some passages.

Helping myself is even harder than helping others. The principle is simple and powerful enough to be Marvin’s Fourth Great Secret: If what they’ve been doing hasn’t solved the problem, tell them to do something else. The Second Law of Consulting: No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. The Third Law of Consulting: Never forget they’re paying you by the hour, not by the solution.

My clear favorite is the 2nd law – No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem. It is very much articulated in the description of all PLM failures.

So, how to solve the problem of PLM system implementation and adoption? Where to focus and what to ignore? These are questions I’m getting very often. Together with these questions – how technology really matters when it comes to PLM systems and adoptions.

I can see a clear conundrum many companies are getting into when starting PLM implementations. The conflict is between people, technologies, and systems/ products. Here is how I can combine these things together into something that can help you. Here are 4 guiding principles:

1- People are the problem, but don’t change people. It would be a red herring.
2- Change the system (and technology) which will impact what people do.
3- Ask people to change the system and implement the technology by themselves.
4- Last but not least, make all people involved and use the solution.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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