Product Data Management or PDM systems manage data from drawings to Word documents to parts lists. PDM systems can link with manufacturing requirements planning to provide parts lists and supporting materials for an entire assembly or verify as-built assembly information from shop floor systems against the design approved by engineering.
One of the problems facing manufacturers and PDM users is inertia, where an existing system remains entrenched due to its complexity and depth of use. Another problem is the evolving IT industry, with new products replacing the old ones even as the old ones grow deeper roots. The third problem is merely natural business evolution, with mergers and acquisitions resulting in different PDM applications used at different work sites or functional areas. Yet the consolidation of these PDM systems is critical to long term success of an organization.
Why do you need as few PDM systems as possible?
1. Where is your data? When users have to hunt across multiple databases to find their information, you add an unnecessary delay to every drawing search or document review.
2. What are your system administrators doing? Twice as many systems means almost twice as many users to support. Or you have one main system and still require as much system administration time to ensure the security and integrity of a PDM system used by relatively few users. Either way, you are duplicating effort of employees whose time costs more than that of your shop floor staff. When a basic database supporting software like Oracle or Apache must be updated, the workload is multiplied by the number of PDM applications you have, regardless of their usage.
3. Building federated databases or data mining tools that search all databases appears to be a solution. After all, users go to one website and search everything. Yet this solution is in many ways worse than consolidation. It adds complexity by adding yet another item IT must support and another layer that may be to blame when something goes wrong.
4. Leaving multiple PDM systems running can multiply your software licensing costs for server software or user licenses.
5. Tolerating more than one PDM system makes it more likely that newly purchased companies will be allowed to keep their PDM system, multiplying the IT and support costs.
6. Supporting multiple PDM systems means that it takes more time to determine the correct root cause of a user’s problem. Increased complexity makes the help desk’s job harder.