Editor's note: This is the third post in our "Customer Voice" series where we capture and bring to you the direct voice of our customers to demonstrate their areas of PLM ROI. View the other posts below:
Creating harmony from different environments
After being acquired by one of its competitors, a global confectionary company set out to harmonize its Devex PLM data across separate environments.
“We are all competing in the same market, but at the same time, there’re operational benefits to integration,” says the company’s Director of Industrial Performance & Project Management.
But there are challenges in bringing multiple PLM systems together.
The company weighed the benefits of keeping both systems separate, but the benefits outweighed the burden.
“Harmonization has operational benefits,” says the Director. “It also promotes cooperation.”
The existing PLM environments were analyzed. While ownership was unified, the companies themselves would still operate as individual entities. This highlighted several challenges.
“We were already further ahead in Devex implementation,” notes the Director. “Our system had been fully designed for us and us alone.”
In order to extend Devex across the sister companies, several things had to be considered.
“How do you structure the data? How do you make it all work?” asks the Director. “You want to share the environment, but you’re still competitors in the same market. It’s not easy.”
Finding middle ground
In order to solve some of the issues around data structuring, the company relied on middleware to minimize complications around ERP.
“Data structure is driven by a lot of things, which makes it difficult to find a single solution,” says the Director. “You’ll also find similar or identical data fields, but the validation requirements would be different. Each group kept its own ERP system, but middleware allowed us to manage validations and some out-of-the-box features in Devex, like decision tables, made it easier.”
As the PLM environments merged, standardized numbering schemes were established to avoid overlap during data import.
“You want simple, and Devex is really good with simple,” says the Director.
Separate workflows still exist across the different entities, but permission settings in Devex control access to specific workflows.
“Users can only see items in their database, and admins can give permissions to users,” says the Director. “This can be handy because there is collaboration between the companies.”
It might also help unify other processes between the sister companies.
“There are similar, but separate workflows across the companies,” notes the Director. “In the long term, we might look at standardizing workflows. Devex makes it easy to transition between companies, onboarding becomes faster. We didn’t have to customize anything for this.”
System governance, including administrator access, posed several operational questions.
“Do you have separate admins for each company?” asks the Director. “Who covers the cost? Where is the system hosted? How do you handle the confidential data?”
In the end, they were able to resolve these complexities with executive involvement.
“Governance has to be buttoned down,” says the Director.
Unity is not only possible, but fruitful
Harmonizing multiple data environments into Devex is possible, but it takes some time.
“The more companies are standardized, the easier and more cost efficient an implementation will be,” says the Director. “This might require extra meetings but allowing time for harmonization is a big step in troubleshooting.”
Similar workflows, data structure, and processes are a big part of it, but so is the PLM environment itself.
“It’s hard to eliminate customization, but it really complicates maintenance and upgrades down the line,” observes the Director. “We really tried to use out-of-the-box where possible.”
Some issues, like governance, might require executive involvement. Once these complexities are worked through, it’s much easier to standardize other aspects of the environments.
“Having a common system does more than just integrate the PLMs,” says the Director. “It reduces operational costs, facilitates collaboration, and allows us to grow.”