PLM should be the backbone of your company’s digital transformation since it’s nearly impossible to implement a comprehensive digital thread without PLM. And because effective PLM touches every part of the organization, your PLM change management strategy will be crucial to your overall success. So how do you ensure the success of change management PLM efforts and tactics?
Unless your organization has a modern PLM solution, it’s nearly impossible to have a complete digital thread for a product.
Critical Factors in PLM Change Management
PLM change management programs must focus on several key factors to ensure success.
Because PLM will become the backbone of the company’s digital transformation, all other enterprise applications must be integrated into PLM to ensure consistent data across the organization. The PLM solution will become the repository for all common data.
Integration has long been a scary word in IT circles, but modern PLM solutions such as PTC Windchill are designed to take the stress out of integration. Windchill, for example, is as much a platform as an application because it supports hundreds of APIs (application programming interfaces) that make it easy to move data in and out without having to write a lot of code or modify either system.
People don’t react well when they don’t understand what is going on around them, so frequent user education is key to change management PLM projects. Make sure all users understand the benefits of the upcoming changes. Otherwise, they may be reluctant to give up the day-to-day processes they are comfortable with.
People need time to get comfortable with changes, so make sure you start education early—even before you think you need it. The depth and topics will change, of course, as your implementation progresses, but you should never assume it’s not required.
Your existing systems and procedures have probably been in place for so long that users rarely or never need to refer to documentation or procedure manuals, but now, everything is changing. Take the time to document your processes, including procedures that are done rarely; otherwise, you’ll find users continually running into problems. They will blame the PLM system rather than the lack of documentation, which can cause significantly delayed or failed implementations.
PLM change management is critical to a successful PLM implementation or upgrade.
One way to ensure that all procedures are documented is to have the users write the procedures as part of their education program. That way, they’ll be answering their own questions while they learn how the new system will affect them.
Even though your existing applications and your new PLM solution are both tried-and-true systems with hundreds of successful customers, every company and every IT environment is different. So take the time to test the integration in a conference room pilot before you go live with the move to PLM. Testing helps users feel comfortable and is an integral part of the change management PLM process.
A Proven Methodology
An enterprise application such as PLM is vast and complex, so it doesn’t make sense to start the journey without a roadmap. That doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel, though. For example, PTC’s Value Ready Deployment helps immensely with the implementation roadmap and simplifies PLM change management.
Using a proven implementation methodology will help you to overcome change management PLM concerns.
Change Management PLM Communication Plan
Start your communication process early and communicate often. Make sure the entire organization understands why the change is necessary and how the digital transformation they are about to undergo positions the organization for success. Acknowledge that there will be some disruption, and celebrate every success, no matter how minor.
You Need a PLM Change Management Methodology
Because PLM will need to integrate and work with all your other enterprise applications, you may find that change management PLM processes continue for a long time. It would be difficult to turn on the integration to ERP, CRM, SCM, field service, order management, EQM—or whatever solutions are in use—all at the same time.
Some users will participate in just one wave of change, but most will be involved in two or more. That’s a lot of change for anyone to absorb, and using a PLM change management methodology like Value Ready Deployment will help you manage the waves of change across the entire organization.
Measuring the Success of Change Management PLM Implementation Strategies
It’s a management axiom that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, so make sure you set the success metrics for PLM change management. Possible metrics include:
- Number of users trained
- Procedures written and tested
- Conclusion of conference room pilots
- Go live dates
Want to learn more about change management PLM processes and controls?
We’re experts in PLM and in helping our customers make smooth transitions, so if you’d like to learn more, contact us today.