Evaluating PLM Implementations Using a Guidelines-based Approach
Abstract: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is an information technology-based concept bringing several benefits to product development organizations. However, it has been reported that PLM implementations in industry render unsatisfactory results. Hence, the overall aim of the work presented in this thesis is to develop new tools and methods that can lead to improved outcomes from future PLM implementations. In-depth understanding of the operational aspects of PLM implementations is needed in order to develop methods and tools that can support practitioners. However, most of the existing discussions of characteristics and challenges in PLM implementations are provided without thorough case studies of the implementations from which they are drawn. In particular, the role of requirements management in PLM implementation is argued to be in need of clarification. The problem is approached by presenting an in-depth case study of a recent PLM implementation, focusing on operational requirements management issues. In order to achieve improved outcomes from PLM implementations, being able to evaluate the outcomes is argued as being necessary. Furthermore, it is argued that it would be beneficial to be able to evaluate tentative PLM solutions during development and PLM implementations leading to the development and deployment of PLM solutions, rather than evaluating the effects resulting from having used a PLM solution. It is found that such methods and tools are currently lacking and need to be proposed, developed and evaluated. The problem is approached by utilizing published experiences, in terms of guidelines, from previous PLM implementations. A guideline can be defined as a directional recommendation for what to do (or what not to do) in a specific context. Available guidelines are first summarized in a tool, followed by a discussion of their relevance and application in relation to the in-depth case study. It is found that most of the guidelines, though highly relevant to the case, were not fully applied, and that a better application of more of the guidelines would lead to better outcomes. It is furthermore demonstrated that PLM implementation guidelines can be used to identify weak spots associated with conducted PLM implementations. A subset of the summarized guidelines (those regarding the PLM solution) is then utilized in a proposed method to identify risks associated with a PLM solution. As such, the methods and tool serve as discussion-facilitating support and direct focus on areas in need of improvement. Future work includes developing a guidelines structure and seeking to expand the guidelines set to cover more areas.
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