PLM Best Practices (January 19, 2012)

17 Jan, 2012 By: Cadalyst Staff

Let Your Engineers Engineer

When companies use PDM and PLM systems to manage review processes, engineering staff is freed to focus on product design.

By Chad Jackson


Recognize that? It's the sound of yet another request, form, or other project-management task hitting your desk. Managing an engineering organization today is an unrelenting job. Every project is understaffed. Every day brings a new fire drill. Every product is getting more complex. You and your team end up working nights and weekends to stay on schedule. Now maybe you don't mind long hours. Heck, everyone's working hard nowadays. But you have to admit, there's one part of this reality that is frustratingly ironic: Most of your time isn't spent on engineering work.

It's not exploring options, performing calculations, or even validating designs. Most of your team's time is spent tracking down the shop floor guy to get his feedback. It's showing the folks from procurement that a specific part is required. It's proving to the people in the service organization that yes, in fact, that maintenance procedure does work. Is this why you went into engineering?Read more »

Chad Jackson is an industry analyst with Lifecycle Insights and the publisher of the blog He writes about all things engineering including career issues, managerial challenges, and enabling technology. Follow him on Twitter at @chadkjackson.

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Mitigate the Engineering Brain-Drain Threat

When product change orders arise but key project personnel have moved on, PDM and PLM systems help managers reconstruct the design process.

By Chad Jackson

Question: When is an engineering manager like a crime scene investigator?

Answer: Unfortunately, almost every day.

Engineering is an iterative process. Some things you get right immediately. Other things you don't. You hope all the mistakes are caught before a product is delivered or launched, realistically, that just doesn't happen. Some problems slip through the cracks and eventually come back to you as change orders.

It is at that point that an engineering manager must step into the role of crime scene investigator, attempting to reconstruct the product-development process to determine how a problem occurred and how to resolve it when, all to often, the original designer or engineer is no longer with the organization. They might have retired, taken a promotion, or moved on to another company. In an age when the massive Baby Boomer generation is ready to retire and disgruntled Gen-Xers are left in their wake, it's an all too familiar reality. So, now what happens? In short, you have to figure out what went wrong. Read more »

More PLM Strategies and Success Stories

Marrying for Money... and a Better Product Design
Part 4: How one company improved its BOM. From PTC.Read more »

Mind Reading No Longer Required Course for Engineering Students
Part 3: Avoid design failures by establishing parameters. From PTC.Read more »

Warning! Engineers Escape Cubicles to Interact With Other Departments
Part 2: Enable communication to create value for organizations. From PTC.Read more »

4 Reasons to Keep Engineering in a Box
Part 1: Debunk "cost-cutting" myths and take advantage of your engineering staff's expertise and energy. From PTC.Read more »

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