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Bill Lewis, Senior Marketing Manager at Siemens PLM Software, spoke with our sister publication Design Product News' editorial director Mike Edwards at the recent Siemens PLM Connection conference in Las Vegas. Lewis went into depth on his company's High Definition PLM vision aimed at the customer user experience from Siemens applications such Teamcenter 10.1, NX and Solid Edge, as well as embracing data files from its competitors.
It doesn’t matter how fancy your ERP system is. It doesn’t matter how closely the system’s capabilities match your company’s needs. It doesn’t matter that the ERP system is SaaS, comes with the latest flavours of business intelligence, or can be used by mobile workforces on their smartphones. No, none of this matters if the system isn’t implemented correctly.Do you think that Marin County’s SAP implementation project failed because the software didn’t have the sophistication to manage a single county’s relatively modest informational needs? Heck, SAP powers Johnson and Johnson and its 117,000 employees spread across 250 operating companies in 60 countries.Do you think that Oracle’s PeopleSoft software was incapable of handling Montclair State University’s needs? Dozens of universities and colleges use PeopleSoft to manage their institutional needs.In these cases, failure had little or nothing to do with system capabilities. Implementation efforts were the difference-makers. And, in reading the back-and-forth finger-pointing that’s publicly aired in court filings, it’s apparent that these projects suffered from a lack of leadership.Whether you’ve already selected your software or are in the throes of an ERP selection project, it’s time to stop and reflect. You need to understand what leadership skills your team needs to drive it to a successful implementation outcome. Here are a couple of key characteristics of effective ERP implementation leaders.Your ERP project leader is a trusted advisorIn my previous life as a commercial litigation lawyer, I was bound by a fiduciary duty to always act in my client’s best interests. I not only had to avoid real conflicts of interest, I also had to avoid anything that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.ERP project leaders should be bound by similar obligations. Why? Because conflicts can cause project leaders to make recommendations or take actions that may harm the company. Business leaders aren't ERP experts and they don't pretend to be. They hire ERP project leaders because they're the experts. They rightfully expect that these people will act in their best interests. When so-called "leaders" fail to do so, they've breached a trust.Here's one common example: many vendors and resellers (VARs) have formal or informal referral arrangements with other firms. Under these arrangements, firms typically pay each other (up to 30 per cent of billable fees) to assign staff to each other’s clients' projects. Oftentimes, firms staff their clients' projects with less-than-the-best personnel to earn referral commissions. In my view, ERP project leaders should never have an excuse to use less-than-the-best.Here's what business leaders can do to ensure that their ERP advisors don't bring baggage into a project. They should expressly ask whether the leader is subject to any formal or informal referral arrangements, and the extent to which such arrangements could impact staffing decisions. They should also ask whether the project leader profits from the sale of software, and whether his firm is profiting from software sales to the company. To the extent that it does, and to the extent that your company hasn't yet received an independent opinion about the value of the software, it might want to get one.Your project leader - extensive industry, business and ERP project expertiseYour project leader is charged with the responsibility to drive all stakeholder groups to deliver an on-time, on-budget implementation in accordance with defined performance expectations. You are charged with the responsibility of finding that qualified candidate.Your project leader should boast an impressive track record - one that proves his ability to successfully lead ERP projects. When assessing candidates, it is very important not to confuse functional or technical experience with ERP project management experience. These roles are important, but are no substitute for project leadership expertise. A project leader is akin to an orchestra conductor, while the functional and technical resources are more akin to individual musicians. Who would you want leading your project?Preconceptions and stigmas aside, hiring advisors or consultants to manage ERP implementation projects is effectively an outsourcing arrangement. However, it is fundamentally different from most other types of outsourcing arrangements because companies tend to outsource non-core functions. Although managing ERP projects is not a core competence of most businesses, ERP does cut straight through the core of your business. A poor implementation is capable of crippling – even killing - a business. So, if you’re trusting your ERP advisor with the core of your business, you should make sure that the advisor is competent and looking out for your business’ best interests.Jonathan Gross is vice-president of Pemeco, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in ERP selection and implementation. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This article originally appeared on Pemeco's website at
For almost three decades, CVG, Inc. and CVG-Avtec Systems, Inc. has offered systems engineering services to the aerospace and defense industries, providing custom hardware, software, algorithms, simulations and analyses to solve its customers' toughest real-world engineering problems. Growing beyond its service origins, CVG-Avtec has grown into a communications systems provider, supplying advanced data communications products to aerospace, telecommunications and defense organizations worldwide.As a provider of advanced communications systems, CVG-Avtec generates a large volume of complex engineering products. This environment inevitably results in a high quantity of engineering changes. CVG-Avtec needed a way to accurately track all of the bill of material (BOM) changes and have the ability to view previous revisions with a clear history of the product’s lifecycle.The company initially tried to track and manage their engineering change/revision process with Excel spreadsheets. Managing detailed change information with Excel spreadsheets did not provide the security or history tracking that CVG-Avtec needed to effectively manage product revisions and the manual entry of information was highly susceptible to data inaccuracies. The company also tried using their existing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to manage revisions. Tracking different revisions of the same BOM in their ERP system proved to be time-consuming and tedious, requiring the creation of a different BOM part number for each revision that did not have any relation to each other.CVG-Avtec knew that it needed a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to meet its goals. Designed to manage detailed engineering information, a PLM system would allow CVG-Avtec to clearly see and understand what the actual changes are from one product revision to the next, as well as implement staged workflows for review and approval on all changes to ensure accuracy, accountability and create structured processes. Prior to selecting a solution, the company evaluated several PLM vendors. It chose the Empower PLM solution from Omnify. “We selected the Empower PLM solution because it offered many of the features we were looking for such as robust search capability, flexible workflow processing, easy import and export of data, and report generation,” says Quang Le, configuration management for CVG-Avtec. “In addition, the tool allows us to create different groups such as Users, Engineers, and Administrators, to control access to certain information.”All of CVG-Avtec’s product data is now centralized and managed within Empower PLM. The company met its primary goal of eliminating the tedious task of managing BOM information within their ERP system that required multiple BOM part numbers for all BOM revisions. With features such as complete BOM revision control, audit trails, BOM comparisons and full BOM hierarchy views, Empower PLM makes CVG-Avtec’s BOM management process much easier and more efficient. All BOM revisions now exist solely in the Empower PLM system with only the current released BOM residing in ERP. Managing revisions in Empower PLM has not only resulted in about 70 per cent time savings compared to managing this process in their ERP system, it also ensures that manufacturing is building to the correct BOM every time. “By keeping all revisions in Empower PLM, I no longer need to worry about changing effective dates on individual BOM parts in our ERP system in order to maintain current and prior revisions,” says Le.  “This not only keeps the BOM in ERP visually clear and simple to read, it has helped us to improve revision tracking and accuracy by an outstanding 100 per cent.”The Empower PLM workflow engine, which provides both parallel and serial processing, has streamlined CVG-Avtec’s engineering change and release process. Using stage-based workflows helps CVG-Avtec to assure appropriate personnel have verified and approved all product changes, permitting only necessary users to view, change, accept, and/or reject changes at any particular point. This guarantees that the change information is accurate and ready for the next phase and creates better resource efficiencies by only including appropriate team members on their specific stage(s). Revision history, markups/redlines, and full audit trail functionality provide CVG-Avtec with visibility into who, what, where, when and why on all changes made to any item in the Empower PLM system. The company has implemented formal release processes for new part requests and BOMs, and is now able to formally document the changes to existing parts and BOMs. This provides CVG-Avtec with the structured processes, history tracking, and accountability they were looking for to meet their product development goals. “Empower PLM has helped improve our configuration management processes tremendously,” says Le. “Having the ability to easily bring up past product revisions, retrieve all information and associated documentation, such as datasheets and vendor quotes, and see all redlines has helped to reduce the time spent searching for information by at least 95 per cent which allows me to do my job much more efficiently and effectively.”  Omnify Software is a provider of business-ready, product lifecycle and change management solutions designed to meet the needs of manufacturers in the electronics, mechanical, medical and defense industries.
By now you know that ERP should be treated as a business project, part of a larger transformation project. You probably also know that ERP success depends on your business' ability to find an ERP vendor that's capable of meeting your business' key requirements. But, you're probably wondering, "What the heck are business requirements?", "When should we define them?" and "Where should we start?".
Autodesk, Inc. has announced the immediate availability of Autodesk PLM 360, the cloud-based alternative to product life cycle management (PLM) that the company unveiled last November at Autodesk University. The solution is meant to be a "powerful, affordable and easy-to-implement solution at a fraction of the cost of traditional PLM systems," the company explained.
SolidWorks product manager Craig Therrien spoke with Manufacturing AUTOMATION's sister publication, Design Product News, at SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego, Calif. In this exclusive interview, Therrien explains why both designers and supplier-manufacturers can benefit from exploiting the Costing module inside Premium and Professional copies of the SolidWorks 2012 release.
Hayward Gordon designs, manufactures and distributes process equipment, products and systems relating to pumping, mixing, filtration and bulk solids handling. With 78 employees and branch locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, Hayward Gordon is headquartered in Ontario, home of its custom-built 50,000-sq.ft. office and plant facility, which opened in 2006.
Altium business development manager Lawrence Romine spoke with Manufacturing AUTOMATION sister publication, Design Product News, at SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego, Calif. Romine outlined how Altium product design software bridges the ECAD-MCAD gap, in conjunction with Mecodes mechatronic collaboration design software and the SolidWorks solid modelling platform.
There is a lot of talk about cloud computing today, and its exponentially growing presence among enterprise technology, particularly product life cycle management (PLM). While PLM "in the cloud" is available today, its adoption can be slow. Customers are having a difficult time deciphering when, how and even whether to use PLM in a cloud. With the type of sensitive information that is managed in PLM, there has been some apprehension about moving to the cloud. Adoption is slowly gaining momentum as more customers see the available options and advantages.
All business leaders want to take their organizations to the next level. In an effort to do so, many have invested heavily in ERP implementations and have suffered through associated business disruptions. Notwithstanding their good intentions, most companies haven't come close to realizing the value achieved by those featured in various ERP case studies. Revenues haven't leapt 20 percent. Operating costs haven't been slashed by 15 percent. And on-time deliveries haven't reached record highs of 95 percent. So, what's holding them back?
InterWrap Industries manufactures and distributes plastic and paper products for packaging and industrial use. You may see its product wrapped around a stack of lumber, a hay bale or a roll of steel. The company has a reputation for relentless research and development, innovative value-added services, and the strategic adoption of technology. Its dynamic personality and commitment to continuous improvement have raised the bar in the industrial packaging industry.
With all of the recent marketing hype surrounding SaaS ERP, you might be surprised to learn that it only commanded seven percent of the 2011 global ERP market share by software sales. According to a July 2011 report by Gartner Research, this translates to a roughly $1.7 billion US slice of the $24.3 billion US ERP software pie.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week with worldwide partners and suppliers, Avid, a creator of the technology that people use to make the most listened to, most watched and most loved media in the world - from award-winning productions, to music and movies made at home - needed to create a unified environment for its global product development teams to easily find and share product information in real-time.
Faced with shipping errors, inventory accuracy issues and weak supply chain management, Lakeside Plastics, a mid-sized Canadian plastic injection moulder, implemented Solarsoft iVP to solve its issues and strengthen enterprise-wide control.
Autodesk previewed a cloud-based product life cycle management product at its Autodesk University 2011 conference in Las Vegas at the end of November. Watch the video to learn more.

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