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Meeting the Challenges of Transitioning PLM Implementations

Community Manager Community Manager
Community Manager

Anyone who has ever attempted to move from one version of an enterprise software application to the “new improved” version knows that upgrades can be painful and costly. The critical elements of any enterprise software upgrade are data compatibility, ease of deployment, and compelling business benefits from the upgrade. Data compatibility is something that cannot be an afterthought. It has to be designed into the new version of the software. Ease of deployment of complex enterprise software requires robust and flexible state-of the-art architecture. It requires hardware and networking considerations. It requires that the software solution has captured the customer business process it is trying to transform. And above all it demands a unique long term partnership with the software vendor.

I met Teamcenter customers, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Mining & Construction, Philips, BSH, and other, during a recent Siemens PLM Conference. All these customers have either gone through transition or are in the process of transitioning to the “new improved” version of Teamcenter – a unified PLM environment. They all are driven by similar motivation. They all want global engineering collaboration. They all want to reduce the number of different applications/systems used in the PLM process. They want, for example, visibility of requirements throughout their products’ lifecycle. They all want the ability to present the right BOM for the right function. They want to be able to develop a reusable platform strategy. For these customers this is transformational. They are going beyond simple PDM – CAD data management and check-in/check-out.

We are excited about this transformational transition. So with that in mind, we worked with industry analyst firm CIMdata to develop a white paper on the subject of “PLM Transitions” in an attempt to share some lessons learned from real world companies. The white paper is a detailed case study of 3 Teamcenter customers from different regions and different industries. Each one with a strong vision of unified PLM. The case studies highlight their journeys of Teamcenter upgrades and their continuous evolution of transformation of the innovation process. As you might imagine, some of the keys to success include planning, communication and working closely with your PLM vendor.

If you are considering a significant PLM upgrade, you might want to read this white paper first. You might also want to listen to an interview that our own Bill Carrelli, VP of Strategic Marketing, conducted with CIMdata’s Ken Amann on this same topic.

After you read the white paper and listen to the interview, let me know what you think – especially if you can offer additional thoughts on how to best execute a successful transition to a “new and improved” PLM environment!



I think you are raised a very important and critical point for every PLM implementation. How to move forward and not to damage everything you did? In my view, there are top three issues preventing PLM implementation from smooth migration

1. Lack of standards

2. Complex and expensive data modeling

3. Significant level of customization in PLM solutions.

In my view, the right way to get out of this situation is to develop new technologies to allow more efficient data modeling and backward compatibility in the enterprise.

Best Regards, Oleg

Not applicable


good points!

From my experience, in particular for “young” PLM customers, its difficult to understand they have to migrate to newer versions and updates regulary, spending additional time and money.

However, if they wait too long, its like a new implementation - than - as a user - you might even consider to move to another supplier.

Therefore, its also the responsibility of the suppliers to offer a migration path forward which does not disturb customer operation or pull too many resources or $$.

Siemens Dreamer

Hello Oleg,

Thank you for your comment. I also want to thank you for your wonderful blogs on your blog site. I read it religiously!

I agree completely with your point about customization. It is one of the biggest challenges and cost for transitioning to newer version of any enterprise software. During the good times IT had an almost unlimited budget and they used this for customization. Times have changed. Customers want out-of-box solution as much as possible, and they want extensibility that will allow them to “configure”  a solution rather than “customize” to capture their business practices. This is the approach we have taken with our Teamcenter business modeler integrated development environment (BMIDE).

As for Expensive and Complex Data Modeling, I would agree that data model have evolved and become more complex. But isn’t that the nature of the beast? As you model more and more complex business processes, and also link different pieces of information, wouldn’t you need complex data model? If we look at CAD systems,  data models today are a lot more complex than what they were in early 80’s. Systems didn’t have solids, parametric,  assembly nor history free or synchronous data modeling. Surfacing and blending were very rudimentary.  With all these new added capabilities over the past 20 years CAD data models have become very complex. We can make the same case for PDM systems of 90’s which managed only very limited types of data,  had simple check-in/check-out and very basic revision control and workflow. PDM systems have evolved into PLM managing all types data and relationships, different BOM types, complex workflow and change management etc. Can we manage these complex relationships and solve complex problems without complex data modeling?

As for standardization I agree that some standardization would help. However, being in this industry for almost 30+ years, I watched in 80’s PDES trying to develop standards for CAD. It was long drawn out process with no concrete results. The problem was that as soon as they had a draft ready a new player would emerge with new technology changing the paradigm and making the draft standard completely obsolete. The other problem is the vendors feel their data models is their unique differentiators. By adhering to a standard they would give up their unique differentiators. Having said that I believe there is certainly room for some standards, especially for data and process interoperability.

I am going on here about what I think of standardization. May be you had different perspective of standardization and how it could help transition from one version to the next?  We have taken the approach that standards, technology openness and open access are pillars of developing a PLM strategy.

Best regards and Happy Holidays

Nik Pakvasa



In my view, users like out-of-the-box, but intensively looking for flexibility. I believe, to provide a balanced solution is a tricky point between flexibility and ootb.

About standards. Standards are expensive. Somebody needs to pay for them, and I don’t see many interested parties to join these expenses. In some places (like STEP) it was paid by customers (or segment of customers/industry), but I don’t believe somebody will be interested to pay for standards in today’s economy. We need to find a different solution.

Best, Oleg

Siemens Dreamer

Hello Thomas

Thank you. Excellent point.

Yes…If a customer skips too many version upgrades then at some point an upgrade becomes almost new implementation.

Best Regards and Happy Holidays

Nik Pakvasa

Siemens Dreamer


Thank you.

Agree completely on both points.

Customers want ootb but flexibility to model their business processes.

Yes…finding a right balance is tricky.

Best regards

Nik Pakvasa