How can you ensure that you choose the right PDM software and partner for your business? The right system serves as the backbone for digital transformation and impacts productivity, product success, and profitability. How can you make sure to get it right?
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Table of Contents
- Introducing the PDM Buyer’s Guide
- Using the PDM Buyer’s Guide
- Analyze PDM Capabilities: Control
- Analyze PDM Capabilities: Access
- Analyze PDM Capabilities: Share
- Assess Service Requirements
- Service Requirements: Implementation
- Service Requirements: User Adoption
- Service Requirements: Support
- Consider Vendor Requirements
- Identify Unique Company Needs
- Support the Digital Enterprise
Introducing the PDM Buyer’s Guide
Product Data Management (PDM) is an important tool to help manufacturers overcome the complexities of designing, developing, producing, and supporting today’s products and product development processes. Manual and ad-hoc approaches such as shared folders, cloud storage, and hard drives are simply not effective solutions to manage critical, complex product information. These approaches may work for very small organizations, but quickly falter as organizations grow and must share information beyond a few core engineers. These techniques also fail to manage data relationships and complex file structures common to 3D CAD systems. PDM systems are purpose-built to address these issues.
PDM is a structured, collaborative solution that helps manufacturers control, access, and share crucial product data. Selecting the right PDM system can have a large impact on productivity, product success, and profitability. How can you ensure that you choose the right software and partner for your business?
Purpose of the Guide
The PDM Buyer’s Guide is not intended to provide an all-encompassing requirements list. Instead, it covers the high points that manufacturers should look for in a PDM system. Think of this as a “PDM litmus test” to see if a solution is a good high-level fit for your business before spending significant time and effort analyzing detailed features and functions.
Consider Broader Requirements
Although the checklists focus only on PDM requirements, it’s important to consider more than your current needs when choosing a system. Many companies eventually want to grow beyond basic PDM to a more complete PDM system. These more advanced capabilities are covered in our Expanding Beyond Your Outgrown PDM System Buyer’s Guide. Other companies may start with PDM and evolve through a maturity process to a more complete Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) environment. PLM extends the core PDM foundation to support more product development and engineering processes, manage a richer view of products, include more people in product development, and support processes further upstream and downstream from Engineering in the product lifecycle (Figure 1).
Adopt Common Requirements for PDM
PDM helps manufacturers address complexity and improve business performance. When evaluating PDM, manufacturers need to take into account:
- Product requirements
- Implementation, adoption, and support requirements
- Vendor / business requirements
- Special requirements based on company size (particularly for very small or very large organizations)
- Special considerations to meet industry needs
- Future requirements as the manufacturing industry continues to digitally transform
The final collection of requirements for any given company will be unique and must be prioritized based on contribution to supporting your implementation and achieving your business objectives. Some evaluation criteria may be critical, while others should carry a lower weight. The key is to select a solution that best fits the needs of the business and can be realistically supported.
Using a high-level list of requirements such as the ones in this guide can help you narrow
down potential solutions by providing a quick “litmus test” to determine if a solution and partner are a good fit before conducting detailed functional or technical reviews. For example, smaller companies may want to emphasize ease of implementation and support in their initial evaluation. Larger manufacturers, on the other hand, might emphasize more mature engineering change processes and require a more scalable solution like extended PDM.
Plan for the Future
Remember, it’s critical to consider both current and future needs when evaluating potential solutions. You should consider the possibility that your company may want to expand into a more full-featured system and look for a PDM system that can serve as a foundation for a broader PLM implementation and support your company’s digitalization objectives. You should also consider how likely it is that your business will grow and ensure that the solution you implement can scale to enterprise capabilities and provide enterprise functionality. From a PDM perspective, it’s important to implement what is needed today, but know where the business is going and select a platform that can grow with the business. Lastly, it’s important to consider the cloud a requirement regardless of whether your company is ready for the transition.
Based on industry experience and research for this report, Tech-Clarity offers the following recommendations:
- Identify and weigh PDM requirements based on company needs, company size, industry, and any unique company needs
- Use high-level requirements such as the ones in this guide to evaluate solutions based on business fit before engaging in detailed, technical evaluations
- Consider using the cloud or managed services solutions for companies that wish to move quickly, have limited IT resources, want to reduce overhead, or want to modernize their IT infrastructure
- Take user adoption into account, including simplified access, increased visualization, and task-specific apps for non-engineering resources
- Take into account long-term business and process growth needs including digital transformation, AR / VR, and IoT initiatives
- Consider the potential to expand to a more capable extended PDM or PLM system, but start small and get value along the way during implementation
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