What Do Users Really Think About Their PLM System?

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I recently published a report on PDM/PLM User Satisfaction and I’d like to start a dialogue about the results. The feedback has been very interesting with industry insiders saying everything ranging from “that’s about what I thought” to “that just doesn’t reflect reality.” These are people I respect, their beliefs are passionate, and it seems I might be stirring up a hornet’s nest. If the report drives a discussion then I’m not sure it makes a difference who’s perspective is right, but I think it needs to be hashed out. So let’s get started!

You can follow the link above to get a summary of the report (or download the whole thing if you like), but I think the following two graphics are the key points to discuss.

Tech-Clarity_PLM_SatisfactionViewpoint 1 – Yeah, I’m Pretty Much Satisfied

The statistical response to the questions about whether people are satisfied with their PLM system and whether it helps them do their jobs tell a pretty rosey story. I would summarize the response as, “yeah, pretty much.” We analyzed the survey responses related to different categories of questions including usage, support, ease of use, quality, performance, stability, and performing various functional tasks. The results were all about the same. “Yeah, pretty much.” We saw some interesting differences between responses based on organizational level and departmental function, but overall the responses were positive.

Viewpoint 2 – Please Change Everything!

Wordle-PLM-ChangesThe second viewpoint came from analyzing the written responses. There were a lot of exclamation marks and capital letters helping to express things that people didn’t like about their system. What?! Didn’t all of you just say you were satisfied? People asked to change ease of use, configurability, search, performance, stability, and integration with other systems (including design tools and enterprise systems like ERP). Pretty much everything. The feedback was clear, I would summarize it as “there’s a lot we aren’t happy with and we want it to change.”

My Takeaways

I have two takeaways that help me reconcile these two different viewpoints (that came from one set of respondents).

  • People are about as happy with their PLM systems as they expect to be. They aren’t expecting much and they are complacent. They don’t want to change systems. Perhaps they are just worn out. Maybe they expect enterprise applications to be clunky. Or maybe they just don’t see a better alternative?
  • People are starting to expect more, and that trend will continue as we are all inundated with simple to use, pleasing to look at, and very functional apps like DropBox, Box.net, and many others. I believe these consumer-oriented apps are setting new standards for what people will expect (and put up with)

If those two takeaways are true, it’s a wakeup call for PLM users and vendors to look forward. To be looking at how mobile changes everything. To see how the new generation of solutions work. To expect efficiency. To demand software quality and stability. Hopefully the result will be a more consistent set of feedback on satisfaction so people don’t just say “I don’t want to change my system because it’s too hard to even think about changing,” and instead say “I don’t want to change my system because I like working with it.” Not put up with it. Not tolerate it. Like it. Enjoy the time spent on it. What do you think?

More Importantly – Your Takeaways

Do either of these viewpoints fit your views? Both? Neither? Please take a minute to comment. I’ll try to consolidate the comments from different forums back to this original post.