Product Lifecycle Management – Architectural and Organisational Perspectives

Abstract: This thesis investigates Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) with focus on architectural and organisational perspectives. The increased complexity in industry regarding processes, IT systems and organisation makes it difficult to manage product information from several and traditionally different engineering fields. It is evident that it is no longer possible to design a product without sharing information across the company. This is where PLM will play a large and important role in streamlining the information flow in the industry of tomorrow.The two themes for the research, architectural and organisational perspectives, are connected with the identified research opportunity regarding introduction and improvement of PLM. From one perspective, the planning of the roll-out calls for structured and well-thought-through maps of the PLM landscape including processes and information, that is, the PLM architecture. On the other hand, the organisation needs to prepare for the large organisational change that constitutes PLM work. In combination, the PLM architecture and organisation studies complement each other and contribute to building purposeful PLM systems that will suit an ever-changing organisation.The architectural perspective includes technical aspects of PLM and different integration concepts to integrate product development at product-developing firms. The focus of this part of the research has been mechatronic product development where mechanical, electrical and electronics, and software engineers need to collaborate efficiently. In this research several different PLM integration architectures have been evaluated, and specifically a service-oriented architecture (SOA) with relevance to PLM processes has been tested in demonstrators. The research concludes that flexible PLM architecture as offered by the SOA is beneficial for most companies since it allows flexible IT environments that can evolve over time, and can be enabled by a stepwise introduction.The organisational perspective targets the great organisational impact that PLM and in particular PLM introductions have. Of specific interest is the PLM user, the engineer working in the product development process. This part of the research has led to development of methods and tools to manage the management and user perspectives, as well as statistical tools to identify problems with PLM and to cluster PLM users according to their specific needs. This part of the research concludes that it is important to involve the PLM user in the PLM deployment, and that goals and visions can be shared between both management and PLM users. Further, the statistical tools show promising results in order to identify target areas for improvement and to be used for better planning of a PLM introduction. The research is essentially based on a qualitative approach employing interviews, combined with quantitative data collection, workshops, document studies, and demonstrator development.