Collaborative Platform for PLM Concepts

05/10/2015 10:29

While working as a PLM project manager in a medium-sized company I faced the following challenges:

The PLM project always operated on limited resources. The project objectives were classified as being mid-term or long-term objectives, therefore during annual financial planning the project was reviewed and amended based on existing resources to reach the year-end financial targets. How to increase the availability of resources for a successful PLM deployment? A proposal for solution.



In Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) the financial resources to run a PLM deployment project are, in general, quite limited. PLM project managers of big companies would say it is valid for them as well.

A PLM deployment project is, in fact, process reorganization and because of its impact on the business process the PLM project manager is confronted with diverse sets of requirements from each business unit. That was my experience and I was required to resolve conflicts involving numerous, complex requirements and limited resources with the expectation of optimal solutions for the organization. 

Because of its reorganization portion I learned that the support of PLM consultants and PLM vendors can be limited as well. It's hard to get what you want even if you try to be open to their advice. I get the impression that they have a biased view of project objectives based on their own interests. Is that an unfair assessment?

For achieving optimal solutions for the organization, I can search for blogs. Writing blogs I experience the dilemma of bloggers: A blog must be short and as a consequence you cannot go into details. As a result while reading a lot of blogs you usually do not get answers to your detailed questions.

Additionally many blogs have a commercial interest: selling a book, offering consulting services, promoting PLM software. The main intention is not the sharing of knowledge, but initiation of business. I do not say they are worthless, but may have a limited value.

The PLM solution an organization uses depends on the specific business process requirements of the organization. You cannot just buy a PLM system and use it “out of the box”, but you have to define your processes and adjust the tools to follow the processes. PLM is an enabling tool and as such it is vital that the process is well understood and documented before selecting the software. It would be helpful to have a venue to share lessons learned supporting that process.

You may, with luck, join a PLM conference and meet a PLM project manager from another organization running a similar business process and you can share your knowledge. You will be more fortunate still if the other organization is at about the same deployment phase in terms of maturity of PLM solution. But this is seldom the case.

As a PLM project manager I visited PLM conferences once a year. This is not enough to share elaborated concepts. What other options are available?



What if instead of trying to meet PLM project managers at PLM conferences, there would be a collaborative platform to share elaborated concepts? Just think of it, working together like the philosophers in the Athenian school in Ancient Greece. To avoid traveling and wasting our time we could share our concepts by using collaborative software. As we have learned it is not just using software, but defining the process that tells us how to use software.

The collaborative platform:

  • is the place where to meet to discuss content available on this platform. It is a social platform.
  • supports the creation and refinement of the content elaborated PLM concepts. Consequently the system must offer containers to hold the concepts, a notification layer to discuss the content, and features to show the evolution of the concept.
  • is well organized for rapid access to already elaborated concepts (A moderator organizes the content).
  • should optimally have an approval process to result in "finalized" concepts. All contributors to the current revision provide approval of the content and then the solution is frozen.



Who should be invited?

Everybody interested in contributing and willing to dig into PLM methodology should be invited to join under the Creative Commons CC-BY license following the open knowledge approach. In my opinion this would be most beneficial for PLM project managers from SMEs. PLM consultants and PLM vendors should be very welcomed as well. 

Needed skills:

  • people having (a lot of) knowledge in implementing PLM methodology and in PLM deployment,
  • people asking right, fundamental, or naive questions
  • native speakers correcting grammar and wording

It should be required to write in English. U.S. and British spelling is fine.

People found using the collaborative platform for business acquisition or miss-use the platform for other purposes should lose the right to edit content.



Like PLM systems there are many tools available allowing global collaboration. One of them is the collaboration platform Quip. Quip is a free, relatively simple web-based document editor equipped with strong support for collaboration and text change control. It is available as app for mobile devices and tablets and as native desktop app for Mac OS and for Windows. It is a social platform, combining chat, documents sharing, spreadsheets, and checklists in a simple interface (e.g. allowing notifications in Quip documents and Quip spreadsheets). It is a tool for utilizing collective intelligence to increase the specification of PLM methodology and methods to deploy PLM. As a side effect, contributors can  practice social exchange using a collaborative platform and draw conclusions applicable to their organization.



I set up a platform fulfilling the requirements in Quip. To see the content of the PLM Culture folder you have to follow the link. If you do not have already a Quip account, then your web browser will guide you to the setup of a free Quip account. Next you request access of the PLM Culture folder. I will answer your request, you will get a response in your mail box, and you can view the content.

To join the discussion on specific concepts, please, request editorial rights:

Inviting users contributing to an empty collaborative platform is a bit of a problem. This is called the “chicken and egg problem.” You can’t get users contributing without content, and you can’t get content without users contributing. But there is already content available:



In promoting this idea I am very convinced, that the implementation of this idea supports the integration of people, processes, business systems, and information resulting in better working conditions and better collaboration.

How should you contribute?

  • If you are a PLM project manager or a member of a cross-functional team deploying a PLM system you can use the available information for free. The contribution of your excellent ideas to the PLM community can provide better solutions and a common communication base for PLM concepts.
  • If you are a consultant and you are reading this blog I would ask that you forward this blog to your clients. I am sure that this collaborative platform is not in competition to your efforts but an additional support. It will raise the satisfaction of the organizations using PLM and in the end the successful launch of a PLM project is to your credit. Why not join yourself? You have a lot of experience that could prove invaluable to the promotion of this methodology.