I am a PLM sales person…and the title of this blog entry may imply that I am whining about my job. While I am not immune to the occasional emotional episode / mild tantrum, the title of this blog entry has a purpose. I assure you that this purpose has nothing to do with my emotional state.
Companies that contact InFlow are generally not looking to buy a PLM solution. Rather, they are looking to solve complex issues in their organization. Often times, the connection between the issue and the definition of PLM is somewhat cloudy. Therefore, my goal in this series is to discuss some of these challenges that InFlow has addressed with PLM and some of the measurable success that our customers have achieved.
"Reducing the number of pizza boxes on your desk"
…yes, this was a real problem for one of InFlow’s customers.
This customer could not easily track engineering changes throughout their organization. This company filled out a standard engineering change form and routed the form, stuffed in a manila envelope with accompanying drawings and documents, to the next reviewer/approver in the process. However, no one had any visibility as to who had the folder or how long it took him or her to get to the associated tasks.
To solve the issue of tracking where the change was in the approval process, this company bought a few pallets of large pizza boxes from a local restaurant. The manila folders were then glued to the bottom of the pizza box and routed inside the box. That way, anyone involved in the process could look around the facility at the desks that were cluttered by pizza boxes. Furthermore, it was a distraction (and somewhat of an embarrassment) to have a number of pizza boxes sitting on top of your desk, so there was additional incentive to address the change and move it on to the next person in line.
This idea worked…to a point. While it did speed the change process somewhat, the company was still unable to track the time that the change took in each department, discover methods to make the process more efficient, and someone was forced to scan all of the documents at the end of the process so that they could be filed on a server for future retrieval.
InFlow stepped in. Together, InFlow and its customer documented the existing change process and easily translated it in to an electronic workflow in Enovia SmarTeam PLM. This reduced the time the company spent in retrieving engineering changes by over 90% (from 2 days to 2 minutes). Since that time, the company has added over 30 workflow processes in to SmarTeam, creating a system that provides electronic notification, tracking, and history for processes such as, PPAP, Expense Reports, Vacation Requests, Corrective Actions, etc.
With less pizza boxes on their desks, this company is also helping to save paper. This in turn saves trees, which in turn make more oxygen, which in turn makes this a better world for all of us. So…is PLM the answer to the world’s environmental predicament? While there is no conclusive evidence, this PLM salesman believes it with all his heart.