Assessing your pre-PLM situation
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Examine your organization's existing design, data management & change processes. Your alternatives are to:
Do nothing: You may decide that your processes are sufficient for current business needs; you don't anticipate any worthwhile efficiencies by modifying or automating your existing manual processes.
Adopt PLM without changing your process: This is a reasonable path when you're under significant resource (time, money, staff) constraints, but believe that immediate automation of key areas can provide immediate benefits or can control an on-going problem (such as chronic bill of materials errors or slow change processing). You'll usually be able to tweak a few of your most challenging process pressure points under the flag of "system configuration".
Re-engineer processes without PLM: Another possibility when you don't have the time or budget to do everything, but believe that your processes are too flawed to automate efficiently. This should make a subsequent PLM project much easier to implement.
Re-engineer processes as part of a PLM project: The most challenging approach. You'll need to spend considerable time negotiating cultural changes, specifying PLM business rules and workflows, and trying to reconcile the demands of users who like things just as they are with those users demanding radical change. This approach requires a particularly strong champion with enough political clout to get everyone lined up behind the effort. But it can offer a radical transformation in your organization's efficiency, and the risks may well be worth the rewards.