Why everything you think you know about PLM is wrong

PLMPLM has a bad reputation:

It’s annoying to use.

It’s so clunky.

It doesn’t help me do my job.

And I don’t disagree. After all, mechanical engineers are fundamentally creators and builders, and we hate processes getting in the way of our creativity.

And that’s why PLM usually doesn’t jive.

But here’s the thing.

That reputation doesn’t reflect reality anymore. Over the last 10 years, PLM has undergone divergent evolution.

That is, there’s a new breed of PLM that was designed from the ground up for usability and rapid ROI, with different types of PLM for different industries, and applications from legacy enterprise solutions to tiny, niche industries.

So you don’t have to settle for a clunky, impossible-to-use PLM that doesn’t help you do your job.

With that in mind, here are the three most common complaints I hear about PLM – and why they’re total nonsense.

Complaint 1: PLM makes my life harder

PLM is designed to make your life easier, not harder.

But that’s not its reputation.

Instead, PLM is seen as a brake on innovation, a box-ticking exercise that slows down the process of bringing products to market.

Basically, PLM gets in the way of the “real” engineering work.

But not every PLM makes your life harder.

In fact, research from engineering.com found that PLM overwhelmingly helped product development teams launch products.

Product Team Performance by Type of System Used

(and, not to toot our own horn, but cloud PLM does it even better than traditional PLM).

The point is, PLM shouldn’t be making your life harder. If you’re evaluating PLM tools, shop around a bit, because better solutions are out there.

And if you’ve got a tool now that you hate, you don’t just have to accept it. Upgrading to an agile cloud solution is absolutely doable.

Because believe me – with so many PLMs out there, I guarantee you can find a PLM that works the way you want it to.

Complaint 2: PLM is hard to buy and harder to use

PLM is notoriously complicated.

It has to integrate with everything, display complicated information, and manage some truly bamboozling workflows.

And as complexity goes up, customer experience usually goes down.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are modern PLMs that are designed to be easy to use.

One easy example of this is cloud-based PLM on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.

Not only is it easy to implement because it’s all based in the cloud (no more on-site visits), but the whole business only works if customers stick around.

SaaS products generally sell with an ROI that is in years and make their money back over time. So they’re extremely incentivized to keep their customers happy.

And that means investing big in customer and user experience:

  • Training times are shorter
  • Implementation is done in days or hours
  • Continuing customer support is included as standard

SaaS products also circumvent two perpetual problems with PLM: integration and rev lock.

Basically, PLM has a reputation of huge deployment costs lots of custom integrations, and then you can never update anything because it might break something else.

It means engineers are using software that’s 5 or 10 years out of date.

Now, SaaS-based cloud PLM has made the whole concept of rev-lock completely outdated.

New instances can be spun up literally in seconds, making the job of deployment — a process that used to take days of on-site work — so easy it can be done in the time it takes for you to finish this sentence.

Complaint 3: PLM and CAD have to come from the same company

This is the one that I hear most often:

We’re a SolidWorks shop, so we use Enovia.


We’re a Creo shop, so we have to use Windchill.

It grinds my gears something fierce.

Because that’s just not a reality for PLM today.

Historically, sure. PLM and CAD were so clunky that the prospect of integrating different CAD / PLM providers was a nonstarter.

But no more.

The reality of modern manufacturing is that most organizations are going to be working with multiple CAD systems anyways.

Which is why PLM has to adapt to be CAD-agnostic.

Upchain, for example, has native CAD plugins — meaning you can use Upchain within the CAD interface — for Creo, SolidWorks, and Siemens NX.

Wrap up

Engineers are right to be wary of PLM.  An engineer said it well once: PLM is a four-letter word (one we won’t use here…)

It’s delivered a clunky solution for years, without a thought for the customer or user experience. Not to mention the fact that it was, until recently, prohibitively expensive.

But times are changing.

Now, there are many different PLMs to choose from. Companies no longer have to settle.

Instead, they can choose a solution that:

  • Deploys in hours or days
  • Doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to implement
  • Can get up and running fast
  • Will work with the tools and systems you have rather than requiring a full rip and replace deployment.

PLM is being rewritten, and it’s about time the complaints about PLM get written too.

About Upchain

 Upchain is a cloud PLM solution that aims to simplify product creation for everyone in the value chain.

We help businesses get up and running with PLM in just two hours, charge no implementation and no service fees, and offer all the functionality you can expect from a traditional PLM.

And with dedicated customer success included as standard, we’re with you for every step of your PLM journey.

Get in touch to see if Upchain is right for you.



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