Planview: A Little More than PPM? Not Quite PLM?

References Cited

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

We all know what Product Portfolio Management (PPM) is. Right? Is the system that let’s us assess product ideas, compare them and ultimate fund a few for development. But it also let’s continually assess the health of funded projects to kill those that aren’t as successful as we’d like. Well, a few weeks back, I met with the folks at Planview (company website) to get some insight into their products. And I think there’s a little more to their software than first meets the eye.


For years, Planview has been known as software provider for Project Portfolio Management (wikipedia entry) in the IT space. IT management and executives would use such a system to plan out and fund IT projects related to infrastructure and systems. But a little less than two years ago, Planview started to offer portfolio management capabilities specifically in the product arena. That involved the development of new capabilities but also leveraged existing capabilities from their IT PPM offering. And for those that do not know, Planview provides the functionality in the PPM module within Siemens PLM Teamcenter.

Capabilities Provided

When it comes to the capabilities delivered by Planview’s PPM system, they’ve made the transition from IT projects to product development fairly well. There’s the typically capabilities you would expect out of a PPM system including:

  • Capabilities to assess and compare different product concepts and ideas against each other.
  • Capabilities to assess, track and manage ongoing development projects.
  • Capabilities for resource planning.

But then there’s a whole slew of other capabilities that frankly are a little unusual but useful for a PPM system such as:

  • Capabilities to build out and deploy custom workflows and processes.
  • Capabilities to define and manage requirements. Although this does not get into decomposition and allocations.
  • Capabilities for resource planning that enables capacity matching against a detailed project plan.
  • Capabilities to support an open innovation approach such as idea submissions and idea ranking/voting. This is provided through BrightIdea, which Planview OEMs.
  • Capabilities to define and decompose corporate strategy. This includes prioritizing strategies, missions and objectives. Also allows definition of right mix of new products, aggressive targets and weighting.
  • Capabilities to plan out a product roadmap and show progress against it.
  • Capabilities to setup sensitivity formulas for branding impact.

What’s also worthy of note, for the upcoming discussion, is what capabilities are not provided by this system.

  • Capabilities to manage engineering artifacts such as CAD files, simulation models and results and specifications. There are capabilities for document management. But not really any capabilities to manage the complex interdependencies between CAD files and such.
  • Capabilities to manage Bill of Materials or product structures within a single engineering domain like mechanical or across disciplines for mechatronic products.

Analysis and Commentary

With the type of product that Planview offers, there’s a lot to consider. Let’s start off with the process side of things.

  • In particular, the capabilities provided by their Process Builder is very similar to what you would find in a PLM or other enterprise system. With this functionality you could build out a stage-gate process with criteria required before moving to the next phase of development. You could also define events like release-to-manufacturing where a development project or deliverables move onto the next phase of development. On this blog, I’ve written before about question of whether it is important or not that PDM management of engineering deliverables and PLM process control should be integrated. But even if that integration is important, there are means of integrating Planview’s PPM solution with your PDM solution.
  • The capabilities to define requirements, even without decomposition and allocation, also seem PLM-ish. However if a BOM or product structure is not managed in this system, the allocation wouldn’t make sense on its own.
  • Which brings us to the open innovation, corporate strategy, roadmap and branding impact capabilities. Some of these I’ve rarely seen in any kind of enterprise system before. So there’s some unique value that Planview is providing their customers. Furthermore, as a whole, these seem fairly product management oriented.

So where exactly does that leave us? I think the best way to answer that high level question is to break it down into smaller questions and answer those.

  • Is there value to engineering in Planview’s PPM? My answer is absolutely. In fact, I’ve said before that I think of all the organizations within a manufacturer, the engineering department can reap the biggest benefit from PPM because it fosters capacity matching. That’s important because just about every development project is understaffed right now.
  • Is Planview’s PPM a smaller PLM? No. Although it brings up some interesting possibilities. If you have a solution that already fills the PDM role within your organization, then instead of ripping it out and replacing it with a large PDM+Process Control oriented PLM system, you may just want to add something like Planview’s PPM on top of it instead. In that way, an existing PDM and Planview’s PPM could become a composite PLM system. And it might pose less risk than a larger big bang approach to PLM.
  • How do I know if Planview’s PPM is a good fit for me? To me, the combination of capabilities around requirements, open innovation, roadmapping and branding seem very oriented towards product management roles. Does your company utilize product management roles heavily? If so, this might be a good fit, especially considering the prior point about composite PLM. I don’t know of any PLM software provider that offers this combination of capabilities that are product management oriented. You’d have to go to a product management specialty software provider instead.

Summary and Conclusions

So what’s the takeaway? Engineering would benefit most from PPM capabilities provided by Planview’s product, specifically in the arena of resource management. Also, a combination of an existing PDM and Planview’s PPM system could be a viable and perhaps palatable alternative to large scale PLM. Furthermore, if you have a strong product management contingent in your company, Planview’s offering provides some functionality that could be highly useful to them. But keep in mind, Planview’s PPM doesn’t provide PDM or BOM management functionality.

So, your time to weigh in. What are your thoughts on the idea of composite PLM? Planview customers, can you speak to your experiences with the product? Sound off and let us know your thoughts.

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

Chad Jackson is an Industry Analyst at Lifecycle Insights and publisher of the engineering-matters blog. With more than 15 years of industry experience, Chad covers career, managerial and technology topics in engineering. For more details, visit his profile.

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  • Interesting overview of Planview. So what is your definition of PLM? In your view, does any vendor offer PLM? Of is PLM only PDM + extensions?

    In my view PLM includes all of the applications designed to improve product innovation, product development, and engineering. So I would clearly include Planview as a PLM vendor. I would not consider them a PDM vendor or a product development solution. Planview brings an interesting mix of solutions to the table based on their evolution, as have some other PPM vendors like Sopheon.

    Nobody offers the full breadth of software that covers product innovation through service and everything in between, not even the biggest of the vendors (at least that I am aware of). So isn’t any PLM solution a composite solution? Don’t all manufacturers have to figure out what they need to support their business and then pull together a collection of (what I call) PLM solutions? So who is PLM and who isn’t? Does no BOM = not PLM?

    • This is an old debate, isn’t it? It’s fun regardless.

      I understand your definition. It is perfectly applicable. However I have an issue with it. Have you ever seen the CGI movie ‘The Incredibles’? There’s a great line in there said by the son that’s something to the effect of “when everyone is special, then no one is.” I feel like when we have categories of software to which almost any software system could qualify, it looses its value to manufacturing practitioners. And I think the value of a software category to those practitioners should be to enable side-by-side comparisons. In the definition you provide, you could end up comparing Planview with something like EMC’s Documentum. And the two couldn’t be farther apart.

      So, what do I offer as a viable alternative? Well, here’s what’s rattling around in my head. I think that PDM stands alone by itself. There’s lots of folks like Synergis Adept that provide a PDM system and not a PLM system. For PLM systems, there are some qualifiers that make sense in my head.

      1.) The first qualifier for a PLM system is that is enables/supports processes.

      2.) The second qualifier is that it does so in the development/executive cycle. This starts at project kickoff and ends at product launch, thus excluding PPM and Ideation solutions.

      3.) The third qualifier is that it is used for the design and engineering of a product. Systems that focus on manufacturing processes, supply chains, purchasing cycles, etc. are thus excluded.

      I’m sure the logic here isn’t watertight. But poke some holes in it or find exceptions to these qualifiers. That would help refine it.

      • Chad,
        It is an old, and perhaps pointless argument. :-) But, I would like to make sure I understand your perspective.

        I understand what your definition of “PLM” is now, that is what I was looking for. I don’t know that “excluding” is as important as “including” as you could certainly have a solution that does PDM, Processes, Project Management through Launch, and PPM – wouldn’t that still be PLM? Or I guess that is PLM + PPM? Or if you add something to PLM does that make it something else?

        It would make more sense if in #3 you said that it has to be used for design and engineering (although I would go broader into the lifecycle), and exclude systems that ONLY address other areas. If they address other areas and design and engineering, would they still be PLM? Or PLM + “whatever else they do”?


      • I’ll jump in here, since I have lots of opinions. Here are my rough definitions:

        – PLM is a strategy to accomplish something. That “something” is variously defined, but I generally like CIMDATA’s take on it.

        – A PLM solution consists of a PLM system and related business processes required to implement a PLM strategy. This is reasonably consistent with the military definition of solution: a course of action. (This is from a customer perspective. From a vendor perspective, a PLM solution is a combination of products and services. Oddly, vendors don’t seem to appreciate the irony of this definition.*)

        – A PLM system consists of all the components, properly configured, that are required to implement a PLM solution.

        – A PLM component is a modular part of a PLM system, that encapsulates its content and whose manifestation is replaceable within its environment. A component defines its behavior in terms of provided and required interfaces. (This is consistent with the UML definition.)

        All that being said, I think both Chad and Jim are right. But it would be nice to know, when you use the term “PLM,” whether you’re talking about strategies, solutions, systems, or components.

        * PLM solutions seldom are.

  • Nik Pakvasa

    hello Chad

    Nice write up on Planview.

    We, at Siemens PLM Software, would completely agree with your assessment of Planview as company and their solution.

    Siemens PLM Software have a partnership with Planview. We have integrated their Portfolio Management solution with Teamcenter’s Program & Project Management solution. We completely agree with you that discrete manufacturing companies (you call engineering companies) would benefit tremendoulsy by deploying Portfolio solution. It will help them evaluate product ideas consistently against business goals and resource capacity. By integrating their portfolio management with Teamcenter program execution we will enable customers to check the health of the funded projects, to kill or increase resources of the funded projects.

    I will not get in the middle of 2 heavy weights sparring over definition of PLM. May be we can discuss this during COFE over a glass Pinot Noir!



  • Patrick Tickle

    OK, so I couldn’t resist and felt like I would chip in from the Planview perspective.

    We certainly agree that PPM does not live in the design and engineering aspects of the product development lifecycle which are at the core of the PLM value proposition.

    That said, we have always worked with our clients to “improve product innovation”, hence the value in a PPM+PLM offering. Understanding the front-end of the pipeline, optimizing the portfolio, building credible capacity plans and product roadmaps, and then managing effective project execution all help product development teams maximize their capacity to innovate with their inherently constrained resources.

    I think the other interesting discussion relates to the “end-to-end” solution that both PLM and PPM can provide. PLM (including PDM) provides an end-to-end execution platform to manage the detailed processes and exponential number of design and engineering artifacts required to bring ever complex products to market. In the PPM space, end-to-end still applies, but I would propose at a different layer of the organization.

    PPM solutions certainly improve project planning and execution, but they also live a little closer to the “business” dimensions of the organization versus the “engineering” dimensions. Balancing market demand versus resources is a critical business problem in any development organization, but then integrating to financial performance is a unique to PPM. Tying the cost of development of new products as well as maintaining existing products with the revenue and margin those products create is a part of the PPM equation that is unique and fundamental to the “business.”

    As was stated below, there is no one solution, but it is becoming very clear that the complementary value of PLM+PPM has great potential for product development teams.


    • In general, I agree with most of your points here Patrick. In particular, I think the connection between PPM and PLM comes into play when you are trying to accurately assess the health of ongoing projects to take that into account in your portfolio. PDM and PLM both are tied in pretty closely to the detailed level of product development project execution and as a result are helpful in assessing health.

      Thanks for contributing. Always good to get your perspective.

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