Out of the Box PLM is exactly what it sounds like, it works immediately after purchasing! This may seem impossible to many, but OOTB PLM is certainly a possibility, as long as it’s done right. To make sure your PLM vendor is doing OOTB right, make sure you can check off all five things on this checklist!
1. Real Agility
Your OOTB PLM software must be agile. This means that with it you are able to move faster and make changes that do not tie you down like traditional PLM solutions do when you program in new customizations. Another important thing to look for with an agile PLM system is open APIs. This way you are able to integrate with other systems quickly and easily. Open APIs bolster agility by allowing you to access your data where and when you need it. Additionally, when your operations are moved into the cloud, you will want to ensure that your PLM vendor makes sure you can still talk to all of your systems lest you have to redo everything when switching some systems out or in. A cloud based system is important for your OOTB PLM to have because without it operations are slowed down, and then what’s the point of Out Of the Box?
You will also want to see if your PLM vendor allows you to add or remove capacity quickly. This is especially important for a growing company who may start off with ten engineers one year, and have one hundred the next. Traditional PLM systems require you to go to your IT department, or even the vendor themselves. This is time consuming and ultimately not in the best interest of the user, who should be spending this time doing meaningful things for their business. So, look for an OOTB PLM vendor that allows you to quickly and easily add or remove capacity and even upgrades.
2. No Blank Slates
Traditional PLM is customizable, allowing you to shape your own processes. Unfortunately, this also means that you are starting at point zero. While you want a solution to be adaptable, some preconfigured standard processes or templates are helpful. That’s why, when looking for an OOTB PLM solution, you should look for a PLM software that has default templates already built in. If you’ve never used PLM software, this will help you familiarize yourself with the platform and get you started quickly. These default templates should be based on best practices already established in the industry, as well as the best practices of your peer companies. So, for example, what does it take to get a change request workflow setup with your vendor? Ideally and with proper templates, this process would be immediate. If you are already familiar with PLM software and need more specific tools and functions, you must be able to configure your templates in order to achieve the unique needs of your business. Therefore, when looking for an OOTB PLM solution, always ensure that the default templates you have are customizable.
You should also make sure that whatever templates are available are appropriate for your industry, with your industry’s best practices built in. For example, if your business is in the textile industry, you won’t want a PLM system that specializes in medical equipment. Therefore, unless the templates are generalized, make sure the best practices built in are good for your own industry.
3. Faster ROI
Traditional PLM requires at minimum, months of customizations, configuration and installation in order to get everything up and running. OOTB PLM software, of course, greatly decreases this waiting time right off the bat by eliminating the lengthy implementation process. It also makes it possible to identify and address any problems that may arise quickly, as well as reap the benefits of this from day one. Additionally, you can improve the system over time as the needs of your company change and not have to wait months to see any changes you may want implemented. To ensure your vendor meets this criteria, try identifying the smallest possible group of users at your business and get them on to the system as soon as possible. This way you can see how quickly the system is set up, as well as how quickly you get access to everything you require. If your vendor needs to spend lots of time configuring, or can you just get into the system right away? An OOTB PLM solution should be one that you can get started on from day 1, ensuring your investment in PLM software pays itself off quickly.
4. Self Guided training
PLM systems traditionally take forever to both implement and learn, so the last thing you want is an “Out of the Box” system that requires expensive, in person and time consuming training and/or implementation. Weeks of on-site training can be completely eliminated if OOTB PLM is done right. In order to cut down on training, allow yourself to learn at your own pace, and save money look for a PLM system that offers self guided training. You will be able to see the system you’ve purchased much earlier and, if you ever do need assistance, there should be someone from the PLM company who can help you out via video-call or in person if need be.
5. Integrations and Configurations.
It goes without saying that even though a solution is ready out of the box, it will need some configuration to suit your specific business’ needs. Therefore, your OOTB PLM has to be configurable. Specifically, you should look for configurable things you will need most. For example, workflows. A configurable workflow is extremely important for the user’s ease and specific business needs. Adding and removing users is also an important tool for the user to have, not just the IT department or the PLM vendor themselves. Additionally, the PLM system that you choose should come with as many integrations as possible. If your PLM vendor only offers one CAD integration, there is a high chance you aren’t even using that CAD. Your PLM should do the work for you, therefore any systems that you already use should be compliant with your PLM system. It is important when you purchase PLM software that you can use it in the programs you already work on on a day to day basis. Your PLM tool should streamline the work you do, not add to it.