Need for Integrating Product Data

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.

PLM

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.

 

Improving NPI Projects for Consumer Electronics Accessories Market by Implementing Agile PPM

Accessories market for consumer electronics is very fast paced due to continuous release of new gadgets and devices, especially smart phones and tablets. With each new release of a smart phone,  one has to release matching accessories like chargers, protective cases, cables. In following section, we will list down key dynamics of this industry and then see what benefits you can get by implementing Agile PPM to manage NPI projects.

Short Product Lifecycle:

Since new models are released every year or so, life cycle of related accessories is very short. New models have to be designed, manufactured, marketed and sold in very short period of time.

Time to Market

If you look at the revenue model of these products, over 90% of the products revenue is typically earned in first couple of months after device is released. E.g. if you are designing a case for a IPhone, 90% of the revenue for case will be earned in first 1-3 months. After that, demand for such accessories rapidly declines due to short product life cycle of the specific iPhone model. If you are unable to release your product in market in first few months, basically you lose whole opportunity for that specific model.

Lack of Information

Another big challenge is lack of information about new devices. Big manufacturers are very sensitive to releasing details about new models.

Companies , working in this environment, want to optimize new product introduction process as much as possible to seize every possible improvement opportunity. This includes redesigning and optimizing processes, collaborating with partners, leverage existing assets (designs, materials, technology) as much as possible.

Lets talk about how Agile PPM, product portfolio management module in Agile PLM,  can help to manage these challenges.

Use Project Templates

Building new models of the accessories for newer devices is typically very predictable process. This is because you have to go through similar product development process to build a case for it. Using project management templates helps to optimize the project management process. You can build project templates with all necessary tasks, document templates (quality reports, financial models,  marketing collateral) and project team roles. With templates, initiating a new project becomes very efficient, without thinking about such details again.

Integrate Project Data across product value chain

You need very strong integration with product data management tools in order to successfully execute a project. You can use an integrated platform like Agile PLM to integrate NPI projects with your product records across whole product value chain, including your suppliers and vendors. You can assign project tasks directly to the vendor to build prototypes  for new device. Once you receive prototypes, you can review and submit first article inspection reports using the same platform.

Secure Product Data

Security is another big concern for device as well as accessories manufacturers.  You have to comply with certain standards in order to qualify for early release of device information. Since you are building accessories for multiple devices from different vendors,  your IT solution should have very tight controls to protect that device information before it is actually released. Agile PLM provides a very robust security model to control access at a very detailed level (parts, field, attachment etc).

Implement  Analytics

In this hyper competitive market, you need to identify every possible improvement across product development process. BI tools, like OPLA ,provide analytical insight into NPI process. You can measure various KPIs and find correlation between various activities to better plan NPI projects.