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5 Lessons Learned from the Movie Aliens & Failed PLM

By     SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

Ripley and newt

 I loved Alien…the tagline alone is bad*ss, "in space no one can hear you scream". Then came Aliens, the militarized sequel to Alien which took the franchise to another level and played on my boyhood obsession with all things military and explosive.  The one thing about watching the Aliens installment is that you start to feel a bit hopeless.  Even with plasma rifles, a helpful android and a team of Marines you still are bound to lose.  This is precisely how I felt during a past PLM & ERP implementation. 

 In a past life I worked as an engineer on an implementation of PLM and ERP. These were big name software and well-funded endeavors. We had teams of people all focused on making it work, and even then, it was a disaster… I was daily eaten by the proverbial xenomorph.  If I came home at a decent hour, atypical, I would just crawl into the fetal position and pray for it to end.  I was stuck on the merry go round of misery, (insert your favorite Ground Hog Day reference here).  It wasn't fun. 

 Plus side? I learned some major lessons along the way, and can share a few of them with you now:

  • Don't rebuild your business from scratch – Don’t use an implementation as a chance to rethink everything about your business.  Your company is successful for a reason. 
  • Don't destroy efficiency – People will quit if they can't do their job. 
  • Counter-intuitive software will cost you – It has to be adopted; it has to be taught; it will become a nightmare when the system is impossible to use.
  • Avoid the big bang rollout – Small victories and successful phases are way better than big failures.
  • Infrastructure matters – Rolling out from different sites?  Trying new deployments and a sand box?  Your IT department may be top notch but your software may not be or vice versa.  

Fast forward to my current role with Autodesk, as a Technical Marketing Manager.  PLM360 is changing the way we do things and the way we implement PLM.  I recently attended Accelerate 2015, our 2nd annual user conference in Boston, where I got to hear companies talk about their own PLM experience.  I heard from startups and large companies both talking about how they have successfully implemented PLM360 and are actually seeing a return on their investment.  Holy cow!  I know I shouldn't be that impressed with success, but what a different experience than my own. I wanted to stand up and start a slow clap!  No longer are people being ingested by Aliens, they are successfully executing their processes in a cloud based tool.

 This means a better future is being ushered in for companies and engineers where PLM becomes what it was meant to be…a better way to execute!

 P.S.  I still haven't forgiven Paul Reiser by the way!

– Tyler Beck, Technical Marketing Manager for Vault & PLM360

**Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox