We all know there are lots of options, ranging from poor to great, for managing design and development data within an engineering organization. But it hasn’t been very clear exactly how many organizations are using each type of technology. Answering that question was one of the top priorities of the PLM Study. This finding provides some answers. It reveals the type and frequency of technologies used to manage design and development data.

Note: For this finding, development data refers to engineering documentation (such as specifications, FMEAs and more), requirements, Bill of Materials (BOMs), MCAD artifacts (3D models, 2D drawings and more) and simulations (analysis models, results and documentation).

Given the results, there are a few takeaways that stand out.

  • Exclusive use of desktops, laptops and shared drives to manage design and development data is predominant for companies less than $10M in revenue. Such technologies are widely accessible and relatively easy for small organizations to maintain. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, but it does validate a long held assumption that small companies are using basic digital technologies.
  • A surprisingly large number of medium (almost a half) and large organizations (one third) also use desktops, laptops and shared drives exclusively to manage design and development data as well. I believe many of these organizations are more than capable of adopting PDM and PLM systems in some way, shape or form. However, the high-cost and long deployment reputation of such systems make a good number of companies reticent to pursue them.
  • Few companies rely exclusively upon enterprise systems like PLM, PDM and even others such as ERP when it comes to managing design and development data, ranging from one-tenth for small companies up to almost one-third for large companies. This cohort represents the organizations that have pursued, and dare I say achieved, the ideal when it comes to having a single secure source of the truth for design and development data.
  • A third of large companies and one quarter of medium sized companies use a mixture of basic digital technologies (desktops, laptops and shared drives) AND an enterprise system (PDM, PLM and even ERP) to manage their design and development data. While that scenario might be confusing at first, there is some logic to it. Many organizations managing their work-in-process (WIP) data with basic technologies and manage their released data in the enterprise systems. This certainly does work. Yet, the most powerful capabilities that offer the most benefit are best applied during the WIP phase, where you can run where-used reports, manage and track complex configurations and share designs with other globally located technical centers.

That describes the current state of data management today.