Written by: Lateef Khan
Business Development Executive | General Manager Digital Services & Solutions | P&L Leader
With all the chatter about a “Digital Thread”, companies need to make their own assessments and plans on when is the right time in their journey to start digitizing their product data across the value chain. A traditional approach has been for organizations to first establish core enterprise application pillars such as PLM, ERP, CPQ, and CRM.
As these core functional areas begin to mature in business process and feature capabilities in a somewhat “siloed” manner, digital executives begin to consider bringing these systems and processes together and breakdown the “silos”. This is the beginning of the “digital thread” journey. To help determine which integrations to consider, having a clear understanding of the benefits and business outcomes one will achieve is key to building that digital roadmap.
Many companies have found that one of the first core integrations having a clear business value proposition is PLM to ERP. It is ultimately the bringing together of the Engineering/virtual design world to the physical production world. It is a key component of your company’s digital and business transformation on how you manage your product data. Here are some core benefits to implementing a PLM to ERP integration within an organization.
- Breaking down functional silos and enable systemic/business process handoffs between Engineering and Manufacturing Operations
- Improving operational efficiency and quality by eliminating manual swivel chair processes of your product data between your PLM and ERP systems
- Building a systemic integration between PLM and ERP connects your enterprise data across the value chain including objects such as part, BOM, and pertinent metadata (attributes)
- Establishing a formal data governance framework of the “source of truth” of product master data, by determining what elements of the part are to be owned by PLM, what is to be owned by ERP, and defining which personas/roles have inquiry & modify access privilege to certain data objects and attributes
- Significantly improving your product data quality and eliminating data errors across the cross-functional pillars
- Improving your cycle time and time to market on your NPI release and change management processes
Along with these clear business benefits and outcomes that can be achieved, the integration solutions have also matured in their feature robustness and overall quality. Some of these are T4S (Teamcenter to SAP), T4O (Teamcenter to Oracle), 3DExperience Oracle Integration, etc. As part of the implementation, one must consider whether you intend to proceed with an OOTB integration, which would require business process compromises and/or a semi-custom integration, which would allow for business process alignment but carries future overhead from a sustainability standpoint.
Finally, as part of the planning and implementation process, one must also develop an overall product strategy around data governance and data remediation. To enable proper synchronization and prevent transfer errors, a plan with business commitment must be developed to address misaligned child components in a structure, incorrect revision hierarchy, and other key validation rule conflicts which could cause data transfer failures. Organizations must establish “golden rules”, incorporate those into the integration business logic and then stand by them, refraining from making concessions on bulk data loads in the spirit of completing consolidation projects.
These implementation decisions are key and complement an overall digital transformation blueprint, and are central to achieving successful business outcomes.