You know, over the course of the past few years, PLM has started to get a bad wrap. Lots of companies jumped on board, planning big implementations. Many worked their way through PLM ‘fundamentals’ that include data management, design release, and change management to get to the issues they originally wanted to address. Along the way, a number of companies failed to progress as expected because some of those fundamentals didn’t provide the ROI that executives wanted. Many an IT champion became disgruntled.

At PTC’s Liveworx, I made a point of seeking out some of the companies that seemed to have weathered the storm and made it through with a positive experience. I was looking for what made their efforts different. One of those was Whirlpool. Here are some of their takeaways from a series of presentations they showed at the event. I’ll provide my commentary on each one.

Alright, so here’s the deal. Some companies adopt PLM in order to make process changes. In some cases, certain roles might have to provide more information about their tasks and procedures than they did before. The idea is by doing that, then others downstream will gain access to that information. In turn, they will be able to do their job better, providing a benefit to the company.

Now, I get it. I understand the theory. However, I think this position is what undermines many PLM efforts. At Whirlpool, they have strong executive sponsorship for these types of changes. That’s great for them. But if you don’t have that, you better be able to explain the benefit for everyone involved, not just the folks downstream.

This is absolutely critical. Many think this is incredibly hard to come by, and it is. However, it can be done if you approach it the right way. You just have to speak the executive’s language, and you must focus on ROI. It must be based on hard dollars, and it must be realistic. You must provide a means to mitigate disruption. Tick those boxes and you have a very solid shot.

I’ll defer to Ryan Paul on his guidance here. I think the key point is making sure you reap the value of PLM efforts across the company. So don’t exclusively leverage engineering data in manufacturing, but extend it to procurement as well. A well-rounded approach here will deliver more ROI from one deployment effort.

This is an interesting take. I think Ryan is differentiating between Lifecycle Management, the holistic development process, and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), the enterprise software system. I would always be careful to differentiate the processes and procedures that need to be support and the technologies that enable it.

Overall, the folks at Whirlpool have an extensive amount of experience in deploying PLM. They offer some solid advice on how to approach it. This is good stuff to keep in mind as you think about adopting this approach.