If you've successfully made a prototype and are gearing up for production, it's time to think about the systems you can adopt to help you manage production, supply chain partners, ECR/ECOs and all of that other good stuff. (And it's better to think about all this in advance, rather than be forced to deal with it when you're in the middle of trying to scale.)
You probably start by managing your docs in an Excel spreadsheet, but as things get more complicated, you will quickly need to move into a more formal process of product management - - usually in the form of PLM.
But don't be scared! PLM has a bad reputation for being scary-to-implement, but it is much easier than it used to be. And usually, it comes down to making sure you take care of a few things pre-implementation that will make the rest of the process better for everyone involved.
Here are some of the best tips I got from the folks at Arena. Essentially, a check list of things to do pre-implementation.
Communicate the vision, early and often!
If you are part of a new company and resources are scarce, or if you're adopting PLM because of an edict from on-high, PLM may not be a unanimous decision at the point of implementation. If you are spearheading the PLM implementation process, it can be hard to make your team understand why you are creating (or changing) established processes, and championing a PLM software program.
If there is widespread disagreement that PLM is a good purchase to make, it can cause a lot of problems down the road when you're trying to get people to adopt the system. But, you can avoid this issue by clearly communicating why PLM will help the team in the first place from the beginning. And it's not enough that your management team understands the ‘why’ - make sure everyone has a chance to hear the rationale and buy into the vision.
When the organization as a whole knows the vision behind PLM implementation (whether it’s cost-savings or improved efficiency) people will be much more willing to make the change.
When moving your business online, start with the easy win
Another thing that scares companies as they implement a new system is having to define business processes - especially if you are a newer company, or process is "not your thing."
I worked for another company who adopted SalesForce, and tried to rush the implementation through without taking any time to discuss our lead flow or lead scoring . . . it was a total nightmare. No one adopted the system. So you have to define what you want the system to do. However - you don't have to have EVERYTHING figured out perfectly for the software to work. Start small, and continually refine as you go along.
For instance, when people implement Arena, they typically start with the item master. Once the product record is documented, measuring change, adding request processes, and moving forward from there gets much easier. And once you have your item master set, there is a "win" to share with the team, which often gets any remaining doubters to buy in.
Essentially, the lesson here, is take a measured approach in phases, where you bring aspects of your business online as you are ready. Look for an easy first win—again, that is ususually the item master.
Define your process, but don’t reinvent the wheel.
This tip actually makes your life much much easier. Essentially, don't get so caught up in the newness of the system that you throw everything you were previously doing out - - if you have a process and it’s been working for you, don’t throw it out just because you’re switching from paper to software.
Moving your current processes into your PLM system is as simple as taking your paper system and replicating it—there is no need to start over from scratch. This especially applies to your change board. On the Arena blog I share an example:
"When moving to PLM, many organizations decide to re-engineer their change board routings because they think the software will make it easier for twice as many people to be involved. This is a reasonable idea (PLM does make it easier to quickly make changes) but adding people who don’t really need to be involved leads to hold-ups and bottlenecks."
Rule of thumb is to ask yourself—who did it when it was paper-based?
Hopefully you found these tips helpful, feel free to share some of your own!