How to maintain and develop an application further.
In an Extended Enterprise it may be very difficult to find someone who is willing to take on the ownership of the corporate PDM applications. However, it is very important that there is one person who feels that these applications and the information that is contained in the databases are his or hers business. And he or she will have to be on a firm position in the corporation hierarchy since he or she may easily be in conflict with parts of the organization that do not see the globality in PDM.
There has to be someone who decides what to do when problems occur. And they do!
Also, there has to someone who is willing to take the fight for funding of further investments/development and budgets for costs of operation etc. It will also be a battle about how to distribute the costs. Who should pay how much per month – per year? What is a fair share?
It is necessary that the "owner" has a PDM Management Committee to lean on and consult in various matters. It is also practical to have a parallel PDM/IT Board that can assist the PDM Management Committee with IT viewpoints and aspects.
Finally, it is necessary to have a staff working with the problems on a daily basis. There has to be two sets of people for this:
- A User Group that can define problems and specify requirements.
- An IT Group that can act assist the User Group in specifying the requirements to an agreed level and that can execute the decided actions according to the requirements. The IT Group will also work closely with the vendor's consultants if you have licensed applications.
The User Group should encompass tutors that can help the various companies with education in usage of the different PDM applications.
The two groups will work together very tightly and could actually be on organizationally group.
If there are licensed applications involved you will also have the costs for these licenses and the negotiations about license fees every year. And the costs for needed consultancy hours from the vendor each time there is a new patch, a minor upgrade, a new version or a replacement of the whole application. You will have vendor consultants coming in every month to help you with something.
The Application Owner or someone helping him/her will have to forecast these costs and foresee them in the budget and convince people paying their share that the costs are necessary.
Hardware changes very fast and it will be feasible to replace old hardware with newer within 5 years or shorter time. The trend is still that the performance is doubled every second or third year without any price increase.
You have to be prepared for things that may happen with the Enterprise during the next 20 years or so. You have to build in a great deal of flexibility in the PDM Applications you develop, buy or lease. Be prepared for different scenarios.
Developing the applications yourself may cost a lot, but you will be in control of an evolution with fewer surprises. However, the application will probably last for 20 – 30 years. The PROST applications have lasted for well over 30 years!
The Enterprise is dependent of the PDM & LCM data and that the users have access to it every day irrespective of what level of of PDM application you have and what software and hardware it is running on.
With a purchased PDM application, the PDM Vendor wil recommend you to replace the applications you have acquired with a bright new Application "that solves all the problems". It is likely that it will not be possible to just install the new application and run a mechanized conversion of all information into the new application. It will probably cost a bundle!
In any case, vendors tend to release upgrades at least once a year – and patches in between. You have to follow these upgrades or you will be "ditched": after two upgrades, you will not have any guarantee that you will be able to migrate your data to the latest revision of their software.
New versions of the Operating System released every year with "patches" and "service packs" released in between may also have an impact on vendor solutions.
The PDM Application Support Group shall perform the following tasks
- User Support
- User Education
- Managing enhancement Projects: new/improved functions
- Problem solving – problems occur all the time
- Cost reduction of Operating/IT costs
- Manage Budgets for IT/PDM costs and distribute costs to user communities etc.
- Planning: further development/versions of the PDM application
- Inform people about problems and new things etc. all the time
- Participate in endless meetings as experts and resources