Why Is PLM Integration Critical for Business Success?
Kyle Maxey posted on March 31, 2017 |

Product lifecycle management (PLM) integration is never a turnkey operation. For every business, there’s an identity—a way of doing things and organizing processes that make sense for its operation. For most teams, this identity shapes the way they handle data and manage files. This unique identity can be central to the core of a company’s success, but it likely transforms the company into a business that can’t be managed by cookie-cutter PLM and ERP solutions. To get PLM, CAD, ERP and other enterprise management technologies working together seamlessly, you’ll have to tailor your integration approach to the way you manage your data.

Although that might seem like a herculean effort, there’s no reason to worry.

Bespoke integration doesn’t have to be a burden, and furthermore, successful PLM integration can lead to greater business success.

Derek Neiding, Director of Integrations and Development at Razorleaf. (Image courtesy of Razorleaf.)

Derek Neiding, Director of Integrations and Development at Razorleaf. (Image courtesy of Razorleaf.)

Where Are You Along the Integration Path?

As Derek Neidling of Razorleaf, a leading PLM integration service company, put it, “In most cases, PLM isn’t being thought about on the first day of incorporation.” And that makes sense. When you’re kickstarting your business, you’re far more focused on getting your first product or service spot on, right out of the box. You’re drowning in decisions that you may or may not have experience making. PLM isn’t on the top of your list.

So, by the time your first few products have taken off, and you’re worrying about keeping up with supply, you’ve got mountains of data and possibly many proprietary design files that you need managed. In the past, you’ve used CAD tools to do the bulk of your file management, but now, you’ve decided to bring PLM into the mix.

Once PLM has entered the picture and it’s been tied into your CAD system, business decisions become easier to make. Your team sees an improvement in process efficiency, and given your success, you’ve expanded and even added an ERP system to your business.

The problem is, your ERP system and your PLM setup aren’t communicating with one another.

Why Integrate PLM with Design Tools and Enterprise Applications?

An infographic detailing the benefits of PLM integration. (Image courtesy of Razorleaf.)

An infographic detailing the benefits of PLM integration. (Image courtesy of Razorleaf.)

Although it’s entirely obvious that having two critical infrastructure tools that don’t talk to one another is less than ideal, integrating PLM with ERP hasn’t always been the easiest endeavor. Whether a company feels that it doesn’t have the technical expertise to integrate, thinks the integration process will take too long or believes it’s too costly, the fact remains that integration has a number of benefits.

First off, PLM integrations can offer greater visibility across business operations by unifying data streams. Integration can also eliminate wasted effort by keeping everyone on a team appraised of the current status of a project throughout its development. Strong PLM integration can also lead to better business practices that can streamline product development and decision-making processes.

But, the question remains, how does a company make what can be a complex integration process manageable?

As it turns out, there are companies out there with the expertise to make integration a smooth process.

What Solutions Are Out There for Integration?

When your company finally decides that it’s time to integrate, there are a number of services available to help you make the transition. One of these companies is Razorleaf. Razorleaf’s clients include some of the biggest corporate entities in the world, and its strategies for integration are completely tailored to the client that it’s serving.

Razorleaf’s approach to facilitate PLM integration begins by understanding how a company organizes its data and how that data is used within an existing CAD, PLM and ERP scheme. Fundamentally, Razorleaf’s team believes that PLM integration is a skill, and it bring with it over 15 years of business and technical expertise that makes unifying design tools, PLM and enterprise software simple.

Take, for example, the work that Razorleaf’s team did with Inphi Corporation, a leading provider of high-speed connectivity solutions. Inphi Corporation had a complex scheme for organizing its information. Account management data was kept in Salesforce via RMAs, financial information was siloedin Oracle EBS, design processes were maintained in Autodesk Vault, change management and bills of materials were handled by PLM 360 and reporting was done in a Microsoft SQL database.

The challenges that faced InphiCorporation were obvious. The company was facing a lack of visibility into data across the organization, time was being wasted calling and emailing internally to get updates about projects, critical information was stored on undated spreadsheets and manual data entry processes were creating inaccuracies in information.

To solve Inphi Corporation’s problems, Razorleaf’s team developed an integration scheme that implemented a complete change management system in PLM 360,improved customer communication around RMAs, got rid of manual processes to cut the time being wasted on errant data searches and delivered unprecedented visibility into data and operation company wide.

With the expertise of firms like Razorleaf, many of the hurdles of PLM integration can be simplified. With a robust PLM integration scheme in place, business processes can be improved and organizations can give themselves greater control of how they develop products now and well into the future.

And that point is critical.

PLM integration will become even more essential to business and product success as more devices are built to be part of the Internet of Things ecosystem. With reliable PLM integration, increasingly more sophisticated products will be easier to produce, update and roll out.

Conclusion

PLM integration will not, and most likely should not, happen overnight. Phasing in levels of integration allows for better business processes to be developed step by step. This phased-in approach gives a company better insight into its daily operations. As modes of pulling out insight becomes more sophisticated, additional levels of integration should be adopted to fine-tune decisions at every level of product development. This integration should touch everything from design to manufacturing to top-level business decisions, and even down into the supply chain.

Companies that extend PLM integration across design tools and enterprise software are the most likely to experience efficient innovation and productivity. Although PLM integration can appear to be difficult at the outset, its benefits can pay dividends.

So, why are you waiting?


Razorleaf has sponsored this article. They have provided no editorial input other than verification of the technical facts. All opinions are mine. —Kyle Maxey


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