Editor's Window31 Oct, 2004 By: Sara Ferris
I spent a day at the agility 2004 conference in Orlando last month, where users of the Agile PLM (product lifecycle management) suite of products gathered to swap notes and learn the latest. Agile (www.agile.com) is a pure-play PLM vendor, founded specifically to develop PLM products. Traditionally strong among high tech/electronics and medical device manufacturers, Agile is gaining ground with manufacturers of industrial products, pharmaceuticals, and consumer packaged goods.
Agile 9 was announced at the 2003 event and released at the beginning of 2004. Newly released modules are driving interest in upgrading, in particular the Product Governance and Compliance product. This manages compliance with standards and regulatory requirements, including ISO and FDA mandates and environmental directives such as WEEE (a European Union directive for product recycling) and RoHS (reduction of hazardous substances). The need to fall in step with both government and customer requirements is a strong incentive to adopt a PLM system.
Other factors that promote PLM adoption are globalization and outsourcing, which create the need to link locations worldwide so they can all work together on a single project. There is also a renewed focus on innovation as a means to drive business performance. Manufacturers grow through new product introductions. Cost-cutting increases margins, but doesn't deliver growth.
Like many other PLM vendors, Agile has turned its attention to small and midsized manufacturers—those with annual revenue of less than $1 billion—a market segment expected to embrace PLM in coming years. AMR Research estimates that by 2008 such companies will invest $5.1 billion in PLM applications (excluding CAD).
Agile Advantage 2005, a product tailored to small and medium enterprises, is designed to minimize the need for system administration and the time needed to deploy the product. It comes with built-in product capabilities and business process templates for product record management, quality, program management, and product sourcing.
Also designed to appeal to the smaller company is Agile On Demand, a subscription-based licensing options that lets customers adjust the license capacity based on their needs. Access to the Agile-hosted product requires only a desktop browser and Internet access.
Agility 2004 featured many presentations by Agile customers, all of whom were happy to share their hard-earned insights into what goes into a successful PLM implementation. Here's a sampling of their advice:
- 1. Buy-in from the top is necessary to get employees to accept PLM.
- 2. Understand your business processes. Then question all of them.
- 3. Documenting your actual processes requires lots of work.
- 4. Remain focused on the problem you set out to fix.
- 5. Make sure your data is clean before you implement a PLM system.
- 6. Beef up your network—file replication must be instant.
- 7. Choose your consultants carefully. Beware of hidden agendas.
- 8. Implement a pilot project to demonstrate success.
For more details on PLM benefits and pitfalls, see my extended event report at http://manufacturing.cadalyst.com/agile2004.