5 Strategies For Enriching Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) With Greater Configuration Intelligence

  • Creating a self-sustaining, high-performance innovation engine is the goal many companies adopt PLM systems to accomplish. Gaining greater customer insights from CRM systems and breaking down internal barriers with real-time ERP integration is revolutionizing manufacturing today.
  • By 2025, 75% of manufacturers will move from traditional stand-alone applications to digital PLM platforms that scale quickly, accelerating new product development cycles with greater customer and product intelligence according to a recent survey by Gartner.
  • Controlling costs, increasing compliance & quality levels, reducing time to market, improving traceability and enabling greater supply chain visibility are the five most valuable benefits of integrating PLM, CRP and ERP systems. The more integrated a PLM system, the greater the potential it has to attain between a 20 to 40% increase in revenue.

The greatest challenge many manufacturers face is keeping a fresh pipeline of new product ideas moving. Growing, nurturing and transforming the pipeline into profit is why integrating PLM platforms and applications with CRM and ERP systems is critical. And it’s more than just getting an adapter or connector created by a system integrator or doing the work internally by an IT team. What’s often needed is an Application Programming Interface (API) approach to integrating systems together, so data is exchanged in real-time. The goal is to create new levels of customer and configuration intelligence. Taking an API approach can lead to up to 3 new product releases a year. Taking a more traditional approach to integration with ETL and other legacy technologies slow down the new product pipeline and release schedule.

Integrating CRM, ERP and PLM Systems With APIs Fuels Innovation

Finding Configuration Intelligence In Customer Complaints, RMAs, And Lost Deals

Customer complaints, the percentage of Return Material Authorizations (RMAs), reasons why they choose to buy from competitors for specific products and most often chosen upsells and cross-sells are often available in CRM and ERP systems. Customer and product data that reflects what is motivating customers to buy or reject products is invaluable in planning next-generation products. The most common customer complaints are often the ones that lead to the greatest product breakthroughs. Now is the time for manufacturers to pursue a complete customer-centric system of record, one that encompasses the most valuable data from CRM, ERP and PLM systems. It’s time to move beyond the constraints of relying on CRM systems of record to fuel CPQ selling strategies. Systems of record need to become stronger, more scalable and relevant to customer needs. Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) is the what the future of manufacturing looks like, and is the system of record needed to capitalize and excel on CPQ, build-to-order configure-to-order and engineer-to-order product strategies.

5 Strategies For Enriching PLM With Greater Configuration Intelligence

Based on the insights from visiting and working with manufacturers who are committed to excelling at integrating customer and configuration intelligence into their PLM systems and strategies, the following five strategies are where manufacturers are concentrating their efforts today. Complex, discrete, aerospace, and defense and high tech manufacturers say these strategies are very effective at keeping existing customers and winning new ones. Taken together these five strategies are revolutionizing existing manufacturing business models and leading to the creation of new ones:

  1. Customer and configuration intelligence drives product planning– Building product roadmaps that capitalize on customer and configuration intelligence are stronger competitively, more trusted by customers, and deliver greater revenue growth than those that are purely technology driven. Look at the manufacturers who dominate any given industry, and their roadmaps bring a new level of intensity to using customer and configuration intelligence to fuel future product development.
  2. Provide recurring real-time feedback in R&D to keep customer focus – Think about how much stronger each R&D cycle of a new product would be with greater customer insights and configuration intelligence. Less wasted R&D cycles to discover what could be known across the R&D, product engineering or manufacturing organizations. Greater customer and configuration intelligence can bring an entirely new intensity to each R&D cycle, increasing the potential for greater revenue growth.
  3. Define quality & compliance using customer & configuration intelligence – Six Sigma excels at amplifying what matters most to customers. Strengthening the popular quality management framework with customer and configuration intelligence makes every manufacturer adopting this strategy stronger, more relevant to customers and capable of revenue growth. Manufacturers who embrace the quality and compliance strengths customer and configuration intelligence offer will have higher Lifetime Customer Value (CLV) and higher upsell and cross-sell rates compared with any other competitor.
  4. Make product specifications capitalize on configuration intelligence – A product not based on customer needs might as well be on a nonstop flight to the island of misfit toys because no one will buy it. Don’t send your products there. Getting a new level of intensity and focus on how to bring customer and configuration intelligence into product specifications is what the future of manufacturing looks like. Be a leader and choose to excel at making products customers love, not just tolerate.
  5. Improve product modeling & manufacturing execution across all plants – Taking the extra step of managing global feature families, engineering configuration rules, and engineering-based product effectivity and Bill-of-Materials (BOM) are how the most competitively strong manufacturers are choosing to get the most out of configuration intelligence. They’re also using customer and configuration intelligence to validate configurations, analyze how customer demand impacts component supply, and plan for component substitution in product development planning. Among the most valuable areas of manufacturing execution based on customer and configuration intelligence is the data insight to identify low-runners and no-runners for global or regional markets.