Product lifecycle management

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software Implementation – An Alternative Way…anything but an IT project.

The Cheeky Monkey PLM process chart

    A few facts

  • Products are the lifeblood of all companies
  • We now operate in a global market
  • Our desires as consumers are remarkably similar, despite geographic location and culture
  • You do not buy things in the same way your parents did
  • Your children are not going to buy things in the same way you are
  • Today’s consumer demands innovation and continual product progression

As a company, you will have already decided your strategy. Innovator, recognised brand leader, happy to reap the rewards of copying with pride, whatever the strategy, clean execution makes the difference.


There is a need to link processes and tools creatively around innovation, brand development and product delivery to achieve that clean execution. This can be defined as; generating the required speed, flexibility and cost of getting the right product, in the right market at the right time – consistently. Of course, companies that do this survive all market conditions.

We see more examples now of products that generate such desire they transcend all normal classifications (social class, age, sex, geographic location, etc) e.g. mobile phones, flat screen TVs, laptops, MP3 players. These products can be applied globally with alarming speed.

Those who find ways to combine entrepreneurial intelligence with the obvious benefits of standardisation will be the winners. Creating a dynamic chain reaction, which balances creativity with the structure and discipline required for clean and cost-effective execution within a network that can operate globally, is the new utopia.

PLM software tools focus on making product delivery efficient. They are a mirror of your process that cries out loud when something is not happening correctly! Doing this makes it very visible where the weak points are in the chain:

  • Product portfolio planning?
  • Strategic business planning process?
  • Communication of direction?
  • Innovation process?
  • Brand development?
  • Project management?
  • R&D?
  • Marketing?
  • Supply chain?
  • Sales?
  • In market execution?

Practically, it is usually a combination of several of the above, coupled with business legacy issues such as data integrity; roles and responsibilities; skills and capabilities; and organisational reporting lines.

The building blocks of implementing a PLM software tool are specific:

  • Capture best practice
  • Provide a knowledge backbone
  • Enable global collaboration
  • Improve project visibility
The Cheeky Monkey Helicopter chart

The benefits are an enabler to the delivery of hard financials that come from:

  • Sales, through faster and right first time NPD
  • Margin, through standardisation, quality, control and global sourcing
  • Strategy, through supporting a networked organisation that allows rapid roll-out of best practice and product knowledge
  • Risk management, through improved legal and customer compliance

If you treat PLM implementation as an IT project, you will go through the upheaval of a software implementation to give people a fantastic tool that, after launch, becomes a frustration because it serves to highlight many of the things people already know are wrong

Surely, a better way is to focus on what PLM is to your business first? Examine PLM in the context of what the business is trying to deliver, and why? The information below shows PLM within the 3 key stages of product planning.

Our approach integrates business planning and strategic direction with innovation as the essential feeds into the PLM software which becomes the efficient delivery mechanism. Without doing this, you will create a very fast and transparent way of delivering garbage.

Partnering the stage and gate process with key project management tools bridges a gap that so often exists in NPD project delivery, where the temptation to “JFDI” pushes people away from process and usually ends up taking longer!

This process is flexible enough to cover pure NPD, margin improvement projects, extensions, brand re-energising or a simple label change.

Of course, to complete the cycle you have to know what you are going to do with it next – and moving back to the product portfolio plan and business plan provides that direction. This is underpinned with a behavioural change programme focusing on key roles and responsibilities that are required to drive this model:

  • New Activities Filter
  • Project Board
  • Project Leaders/Managers
  • Functional Heads
  • Project Team Members (cross-functional)

Engaging people in behavioural change early has had a dramatic effect on adoption of the new process, model and software. In fact, at the point of software ‘go live’ we have experienced 100% adoption rates because the I.T. becomes the last piece in the puzzle.

Is PLM an IT Project? Not in our experience.

For more information and/or to discuss your PLM implementation,
call Nina on +44 (0)1925 754331 or email