Designing the Best Supply Chain

Manufacturers can gain competitive advantage within the supply chain through product design and lifecycle management strategies


SMBs often have a competitive advantage over their larger competitors when it comes to customer support and responsiveness. They can often react quicker to the evolving needs of their customers and target market, with intimate support and new or enhanced products. This should also be an important consideration for the SMB when choosing a PLM system. SMBs should consider such purchases to be a "partnership" with the vendor. For the SMB, a PLM system needs to be easy to use, have a low total cost of ownership (TCO) and be from a vendor who is dedicated to the success of that SMB.

Finally, companies frequently overlook the importance of employee buy-in when selecting a new PLM application. If it is necessary for employees to learn an encyclopedia of information before using the software there will be more pushback from staff, and improving the product development process will be a greater challenge. In order to see a quicker return on investment (ROI) employees need a user-friendly PLM tool that requires limited ramp-up-time. Within a smaller business employees are expected to take on multiple functions, so it is likely they will need to understand many aspects of the software. If a software is easy to learn and easy to use on a daily basis companies will see a greater and quicker transformation across the development process.

Selecting a PLM system can be a challenge if a company is not aware of the options available within the marketplace. But if an organization starts the process by understanding what the technology should address, and further understand the needs of its unique business and market segment, it can select a PLM tool that will allow the organization to develop products more efficiently. "Due to the efficient processes put in place via our PLM solution, Fabric7 has been able to develop and deliver more products in a timely fashion and grow sales without having to make any additions to personnel in either the hardware development or manufacturing operations functions," concluded Firsty.

About the Author: Chuck Cimalore, chief technology officer, Omnify Software, is an expert in business-ready PLM solutions and has helped original equipment manufacturers streamline development cycles, accelerate product innovation and improve bottom-line profitability. Cimalore can be reached at 978-988-3800 or ccimalore@omnifysoft.com.

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