If you look at any product company, you will see that PLM is the primary system where you manage all parts information, BOMS structures, design documents and any other supporting content like work instructions, SOPS, data sheets, and diagrams.
In addition to PLM, there are many other systems which are needed to manage your business processes like manufacturing, financial, operations, and sales & marketing.
PLM and Other Enterprise Systems
In ERPs, you manage financial and operational processes. Many customers have MRP built into their ERP. This is where you need PLM related data like parts, BOMs, and related suppliers and vendors for those parts. When an ECO is approved in PLM, either, to release a new part or to update a design document, you may need to sync this ECO with your ERP to reflect this change in MRP. Similarly, if part cost is updated in ERP, you may need to bring updated cost in the PLM. This is because many customers need this information in PLM for cost management.
On the other hand, all interactions with customers are managed via CRMs. All quality events, which originate from customers, are recorded in CRM. This is where customers can submit product requests as well as change requests. Many companies implement design win process in CRM as well. If your product is being used in the field, whenever there is a failure in the field, you will be capturing support cases in CRM. All supporting information like attachments and affected items will be recorded in CRM. Subsequently, this information will be fed into PLM for further investigation and root cause analysis. Once analysis is done, you will need to update , case status and resolution details, back to CRM.
Folks in Product design and engineering community spend most of their time in CAD tools. This is where most of collaboration around design activity takes place. These CAD tools have part lists & attributes along with engineering BOMS. This information has to be brought into PLM for change control and further integration with other systems.
There may be whole range of other business applications which need product data. Business Intelligence and analytical apps are just one example. You may have legacy PLM systems which need to be retained until all processes are fully migrated. Suppliers and Customer Portals also need PLM related information. In industries like, medical device, you may have integrations with FDA for regulatory reporting.
We see that there is lot of overlap between PLM and these systems and there is a definite need for integrating product data between PLM, ERPs, and CRMs.
Benefits for integrating PLM with ERP/CRM Integration
If you have an efficient and reliable integration solution in place, it can add a lot of value to your business.
Product profitability may go up because of the elimination of errors and waste in the product development process.
Manufacturing process will also be efficient because of sharing updated docs with suppliers and vendors. You can also quickly respond to market demand by ramping up volume production by coordinating with your partners across whole supply chain.
For CRM, key objective would be to have a great customer experience. If your CRM does not have all the required information available, e.g. product list, you may have to look up that information from multiple systems, or in worst case, you may have to hang up customer call before you can find all relevant details. Eventually, this will degrade customer experience and will increase case resolution cycle time. Having all relevant information available in CRM, can greatly improve customer experience as well as improve case resolution cycle time. Cost will also be reduced because of elimination of the inefficiencies in the whole process.
You can also improve product quality by feeding customer input directly into PLM and product design process.
xEngine – Integration solution By Xavor
Xavor, as a consulting company has been offering integration solutions , almost for 15 years, for a wide range of industries. Now, based on that experience, we have built an integration solution, called xEngine. xEngine is a light weight solution, highly configurable and is specifically designed to work with Agile PLM
You can use xEngine to sync parts, documents, BOMs, from your PLM system with EBS, SAP or any other system. It has capability for bi-directional synchronization. That means you can sync parts from PLM with EBS, as well as, sync cost information from EBS back to PLM.