Why Are You Upgrading PLM?

During my discussion with my customer a very disturbing trend is emerging. Most of the customers today are going for a “Technical Upgrade” of their PLM system. Most of these PLM upgrades are pushed by the PLM ISVs.

With PLM ISVs coming out with newer versions much faster than before, they are retiring otherwise recent version (only few year old). Generally a PLM takes few years to settle down. And the moment it is settled down there is a push by ISV for upgrade of PLM. I think the organizations need to perform a detail audit of their PLM and understand what is the cost benefit of the upgrade. They should really evaluate the cost difference between maintaining an old version vis-a-vis cost of upgrade.

PLM Audit ResultsThe cost of upgrade is not only the cost involved by the technical teams to upgrade. It also includes the cost of business disruption caused due changes to system, the user interface & also technical disruption.

When I talked of Technical Upgrade, technical upgrade is moving all the code base to newer release. May be changing it to suite new releases UI design. A technical upgrade for me adds a negative value to business. I feel the during the period when the first version was conceptualized and the point when the upgrade is happening, the business has moved on & changed face. So a upgrade should re-look at business as a whole. The upgrade should map the current requirements of business to PLM system, take this chance to correct something wrong with system or business. Take a upgrade also as a business transformation exercise.

A PLM upgrade should be more of a “Functional Upgrade“. Look at following aspects

1.Involve Business in Upgrade Decision. Should not be IT driven.

2. Perform a Audit of System and Business to map what is new

3. Retire as many customization possible

4. How people are using it. Can we set new methods?

Conclusion: It is very easy to fall into trap of a “Technical Upgrade”. Ask yourself a question why are you upgrading PLM system which is running fine? Is the objective just to ensure that your version is supported by ISV. Think Again? may be use the same money to upgrade with more purpose and look at it as a business transformation.

If you have any queries on how to do a functional upgrade, write us at ContactUs@plmindia.com

About the Author

Rahul Deshpande

Rahul is Principal Consultant at Brainwave Consulting Group – a cutting edge domain consulting group for New Product Introduction and Product Lifecycle Management.   Rahul brings over 16 years of experience in developing Technology and Business Solution for the Manufacturing Industry. He has worked with several clients in the manufacturing space in multiple roles spanning consulting, account management , Solution Architect and Program Management roles across the New Product Value Chain from Requirement / Enquiry management to launch of Product. He brings in cross functional experience covering Pre-Sales& Marketing, Business Planning, &IT Solution deployment. Rahul has worked along with the PLM ISV & Customers to define innovative solution and developed products for BOM Cost analysis and Sourcing Analytics on ENOVIA platform. He has penned different papers on usage of PLM for different processes & industries while addressing their business challenges. He brings a unique 360o view of the IT industry, and has significant contributions in the areas of IT Strategy, Program Management & Product Management.   Apart from holding a Bachelor of Technology in Electronics Rahul holds a Management degree from SIBM(Symbiosis Institute of Business Management). Rahul is associated with SIBM as visiting faculty for Innovation Management & International Business


  1. Any upgrade also associate many other costs say for example infrastructure cost etc.However, upgrade decisions are made after putting significant thought on it.No body in the world would like to through free money to something where they do not see the value.It is true PLM OEMs are coming up with newer versions of s/w very frequently, but it also brings additional values on the table.Steering upgrade activities is not a easy task.It needs significant technical understand of the newer version of the software and also need a significant amount of time to identify how existing functionality can be mapped in a better fashion to have better user experience, less maintainability,moving towards de-customization, improved system performance etc.It is very important for the “Technical” team to have the vision to have a successful upgrade for the interest of the business.

    Upgrade should be consider as a re-birth of the s/w with a lots of business value.

  2. Hi Niloy,

    Generally the upgrades are pushed by the PLM OEM, IT teams. Which generally are not aware of the business needs. The additional things in new PLM software may not be of business significance and these need to be evaluated.

    I understand a technical upgrade is required, but when such upgrade is performed, it is required that the business needs also are taken into account and look at the PLM upgrade (during design stage) as new implementation and find the value.

    The cost involved are many than what you have listed. And these hidden costs need to be accounted for when a upgrade cost-benefit analysis is performed.


  3. Rahul, I beg to differ for a simple reason.

    “Technical upgrade” Personally I don’t like the term, I don’t even know if that is possible. Upgrades are always intelligent upgrades trying to use new features and reducing customizations with less or not change to the function etc.,

    Now to the point,

    Mixing Functional remodelling/improvement and technical upgrade is a huge risk and a recipe of failure. Given the fact that both of them are pretty heavy tasks.

    Though I agree that time to time assessment of functional maturity of an organization is important, I don’t think its a good idea to do it with the upgrade.

  4. Nandakumar,
    I appreciate your view.. But the upgrade you are talking are the Technical Upgrades. A Technical upgrade only gives a limited benefit to the end customer. It is more of a Technocrat View than a business view.
    PLM application is for Business and Business never wants upgrade for sake of technology. A upgrade need to be looked at as a next step in PLM journey and PLM Upgrade is the time when there is a possibility of performing a Business Transformation & PLM is just a tool to do so. When performing an upgrade, any way the users need to be retrained on the new system why not with new functionality..

    It is just my view of trying to marry Business and Technology.


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