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.

Background

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.