Champions, Saboteurs and Nelson Global's Path to PLM Success – TV-Report
Verdi Ogewell posted on October 12, 2016 | 7255 views

PLM can be a game changer, which some people can perceive as a threat­. For others, PLM can drive more effective processes, improve innovation and strengthen their company’s competitive position. And for those who feel neither enthusiastic nor threatened, PLM can be just another project.

To Don Gibson, head of engineering at Nelson Global Products, this picture is spot on. His company, primarily a manufacturer of exhaust systems for trucks and off-highway vehicles, has implemented Autodesk’s cloud-based PLM solution, Fusion Lifecycle.

Nelson Global has approximately 3,000 employees, around 100 of which were involved in the PLM implementation. This process was as much about the technology as it was about the pain of change in an organization comprised of disparate parts. Nelson Global had different processes and software across multiple sites in six countries spread worldwide. 

In this TV report, Gibson talks about the importance of PLM champions and how to deal with their opposites: the PLM saboteurs.


Autodesk’s recent Accelerate 2016 event featured extensive content to help PLM professionals deal with recruiting champions and managing saboteurs. It also featured Autodesk’s new cloud-native PDM solution. This raised some questions, such as: 

  • Will cloud PDM make Autodesk’s Fusion Lifecycle software a full blown PLM system?
  • Will sales of cloud-based PDM “explode” within the CAD-dominated Autodesk community? 

Ron Locklin, senior PLM business management executive, asserts that this is the case. CIMdata VP and analyst Stan Przybylinski is not so sure, however, saying that it will take a bit longer before the big breakthrough comes. In this TV report, you will also hear from Brian Roepke, senior director of PLM and IoT at Autodesk, about the technology behind the new PDM module.

Don Gibson knows a great deal about the agony suffered by a disparate organization when the launch of a new PLM system generates change. He commented that the “people factor” is as important as the technology factor, but often underestimated.  

KNOWS HOW TO “COMPOSE” EFFECTIVE PLM TEAMS. Don Gibson, head of engineering at exhaust manufacturer Nelson Global Products, has been responsible for the implementation of Autodesk’s PLM solution, Fusion Lifecycle, at the company.

KNOWS HOW TO “COMPOSE” EFFECTIVE PLM TEAMS. Don Gibson, head of engineering at exhaust manufacturer Nelson Global Products, has been responsible for the implementation of Autodesk’s PLM solution, Fusion Lifecycle, at the company.

“Generally,” he asserted, “There’s a tendency to reason around PLM in terms of technological capabilities and strategies.” The message is that organizations create complex models of what they can do with these systems – theoretically. No doubt this process is important and it has to be done.

“But in the end,” Gibson continued, “These systems are run by people with different characteristics and personality types. Each one has their own styles, needs and desires.”

Don takes this reasoning to its extreme by pointing out two types of people who are often in conflict during a PLM implementation: the Champions versus the Saboteurs.

“The saboteurs are the ones who are actively trying to get rid of the pathway that you’re moving down. The champions are the ones who are actively trying to bring you forward into alignment with your goal,” said Gibson.

How do you deal with this situation?

The saboteurs may be coworkers that you don’t want to have in your organization.

PLM SABOTEURS. “Ideally, you coach them to move into alignment,” said Don Gibson.

PLM SABOTEURS. “Ideally, you coach them to move into alignment,” said Don Gibson.

“This is true,” said Gibson, adding, “There are a couple of ways you can handle them. You can coach them to move into alignment and agree with you. That’s the best way, obviously, because you get to keep them in play. They will share the vision and contribute to the company’s development. The other way is to get rid of that employee completely.”

Both approaches work, Gibson concluded. However, ideally he prefers to turn the saboteur into a champion. The latter is a path that CIMdata analyst Stan Przybylinski recommends, making the point that one way to do this is to appeal to the saboteur’s self-interest.

“There’s an expression in English: ‘What’s in it for me?’ That’s one of the key things you need to think about. You need to consider the way that the change will affect the people who are going to be changed. Very often you have people that might be thought-leaders, who are looked up to by other people, and you really need to try to co-opt them as best you can.”


LOOK FOR THE QUICK WINS. CIMdata VP and analyst, Stan Przybylinski: “Sometimes saboteurs may have good reasons for their objections.”
LOOK FOR THE QUICK WINS. CIMdata VP and analyst, Stan Przybylinski: “Sometimes saboteurs may have good reasons for their objections.”

One key, according to Przybylinski, is to identfy those individuals that people listen to. Secondly, find out what the quick wins are. “Because it is those quick wins that allow you to snowball the implementation, to get more support as you try to incorporate more people, more functions and more processes,” Przybylinski continued.

He added that the saboteurs may have good reasons for their objections, “And you need to determine what those are. Very often, when we’re going to companies, we try to look at past things they’ve tried to do to see where they had success, where they had failures, et cetera. You can’t know where the landmines are unless you actually know that there are landmines. The best way to co-opt those people is to deal with their arguments as best you can. No emotions, stick to the facts. If they are thought-leaders, then you really need to have a proactive strategy to bring them into default. At worst, you want them to be neutral. If you can bring someone from negative to neutral, it’s a big step toward success.” 

So, why did Nelson Global need a PLM system in the first place? What is his best advice when it comes to implementing PLM? How do you “compose” an effective PLM team, and how do you identify the people that can help you or hurt you?

Watch the TV-report to find out.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS. In this TV report, you will also meet Ron Locklin, Autodesk’s PLM business management director. Locklin believes in a quick breakthrough for the company's PLM solution, Fusion Lifecycle. “We have a large CAD community, and it has turned out that every CAD seat results in 10 to 20 Fusion Lifecycle seats. And now, with cloud PDM, we’re going to see a spike in the uptake.”
GREAT EXPECTATIONS. In this TV report, you will also meet Ron Locklin, Autodesk’s PLM business management director. Locklin believes in a quick breakthrough for the company's PLM solution, Fusion Lifecycle. “We have a large CAD community, and it has turned out that every CAD seat results in 10 to 20 Fusion Lifecycle seats. And now, with cloud PDM, we’re going to see a spike in the uptake.”
 

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