PLM Partnership

Traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) company PeopleSoft and collaborative commerce specialist Agile Software have come together to offer a bundled product lifecycle management (PLM) solution consisting of PeopleSoft's supply chain management (SCM) and customer relationship management (CRM) products with what Agile calls its product chain management (PCM) suite.

An early customer of the joint solution is medical device manufacturer Analogic, which has 1200 users on the system. Analogic sells products to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and is using the combination of PeopleSoft and Agile to connect product designers to manufacturing. This has resulted in the reduction of engineering change order cycle times, of which Analogic processes 700 per month, down from an average of 30 days to a week or even less. Going forward, Analogic has even more ambitious plans, hoping to connect product development directly to customer input received via call centers and the field.

PLM is both an e-business application area and an approach to business that takes a product-centric view of things. As such, PLM is very important to discrete manufacturers, although process manufacturers are increasingly turning to it as well. When pursuing a PLM strategy, enterprises must be wary of covering several bases, says analyst Mike Burkett of AMR.

"There's concept, design, launch-into-manufacturing, manufacture, and end-of-life (maintaining the product in the field). Different apps fill the different parts." Agile, Burkett says, fits the launch phase. "It's focused on handling the content of design, they don't get into 'How do I plan my supply chain for that?' SCM picks up things like scheduling production, manufacturing resource planning (MRP). On the CRM side you think about addressing customer feedback on product capability."

Burkett thinks that the PeopleSoft-Agile combination is "complementary" because it addresses many of these adjacent parts of PLM.

The value of proper PLM broadly construed, according to John Webb, PeopleSoft's VP of SCM Strategy, lies in "Replacing inventory with information and reducing obsolete inventory. You make sure the pipeline's not filled with potentially obsolete inventory or inventory that needs rework."

Demir Barlas also writes for Line56.com

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