A Texan Champions PLM

server-on-fireAnd now for something completely different for the holiday season.  A tribute to a very old holiday joke that made the rounds around the Usenet newgroups back in the day, “A Southerner Moves North” and it’s variant “A Texan Moves North.”  But this time, the story has been adapted into a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) adoption gone wrong.



  • The users are all very excited about finally entering the 21st century with PLM!
  • I logged in for the first time this morning.  Man, this is going to be so…awesome.
  • Greg the salesman took the whole implementation team out for dinner, shared some best practice information, and told us if we need anything to be sure to contact him.  He is such a nice guy!
  • We received 300 licenses from the provider; they even threw in some additional trial licenses for advanced functionality.  They are incredibly generous.
  • Diane, the tech support representative assigned to our account, called to say hello and offer any assistance she can for our launch.
  • I visited the server room, just to see the brand new server.  Impressive.  Most impressive.


  • Many users have expressed the desire for additional training.
  • I had been working all day, and something happened.  Had to log out and log back in.  Probably my fault.
  • We apparently need an additional license for variants.  They say they’ll make us a deal and we can have it for free for the first year, and it’s like another $2K after that.  Sounds good.
  • Greg came by for a visit, but unfortunately didn’t have much time to spend with the implementation team; he had a pretty tough flight schedule this week.
  • There was a minor mix-up on the last tech support call.  Couldn’t ever reach Diane, had to re-explain the problem to another tech but we worked it out.
  • The server had a small hiccup last night – not a big deal.


  • Not too many users showed up to the last training session I arranged.  They say they don’t have time.
  • The BOM editor keeps crashing on this one file for some reason; I had to log out and log back in a few times today because of it.
  • Apparently we don’t have enough author licensing.  There’s a bit of a hidden cost there.
  • Greg hasn’t called back in a couple of weeks now for some reason – maybe he’s on vacation.
  • I Called tech support about a problem, they say it was working as designed.  I don’t really understand why but what do I know?
  • The Server seems really sluggish under heavy loads, usually on Wednesdays.  Some kind of memory issue, I think.


  • I got an angry phone call today from a user making questionable references to my parentage.  He’s on the list.
  • Sigh… Several of the BOM files have issues.  I have to login out and log in 4 or 5 times a day every day as I troubleshoot.
  • We’re missing a visualization license and it’s not cheap.  That’s another $20K gone from the budget.
  • Greg flew in to see the executives for 4 hours; he didn’t even mention it to me.
  • Called Tech Support.  Diane apparently was transferred.  I was passed around for an hour before I talked to someone who could help me.  They maintain the system continues to act as designedWhat does that even mean?
  • The server crashes every Wednesday.


  • Several users sent me a barrage of email complaining about the problems.  Most of the them copied their management.   The list is now a notebook.
  • It seems every time I edit a stupid BOM for 30 minutes, I have to log out and log back in.
  • Apparently some of the Author licenses should be Author+.  Good-bye to another $100K.  Thieves.
  • Greg seems to be spending all of his time visiting the executives.  He hasn’t even looked in our direction for three months.  Jerk.
  • Tech support told me today that if the editing issue continues, just delete all your data and try again.  Great, thanks.
  • The junk server crashes every Wednesday, most Thursdays and every other Tuesday.


  • Apparently, one product group have given up on the system entirely.  They’ve started a Shadow IT effort and setup their own Access database.  I put stars by their name on the list.
  • Every time I freakin’ save I have to log out and log back in
  • There are three tiers of variants licensing.  Guess which one we need?  The half million dollar one, of course.  Nasty hobbitses.
  • I left Greg an angry  voicemail  about the licensing debacle.  Like that vampire cares.
  • Tech Support Goons mentioned they will review the issue if I submit my configuration, data files, DNA sample, first born child, and a notarized letter from my elementary school counselor (or Marina Sirtis).
  • The server which cannot be named crashes every time I look at it wrong.


  • A large contingent of users came by with torches and pitchforks.  I’m beginning to fear for my safety.
  • None of this crap works.  I’m logging out and back in on average about 20 freakin’ times a day.
  • I’ve turned over 80% of the IT budget to buy more licenses.  I’m sure my kidney is next.
  • I’m plotting an ambush the next time Greg checks in at the Visitor’s gate.
  • Tech Unsupport sent me a message today that my problem will be fixed… in a future release of the software… within the next 4-6 years or when the sun explodes (whichever is later).
  • Where is the server?  I can’t ping it…


  • A huge angry mob of users calling themselves “The Resistance” have managed to overturn my car in the parking lot.  The snipers got two of them.
  • I haven’t freakin’ done anything today.  In order to log in correctly, I had to log out and log back in which then required me to log out…
  • We just installed the new licenses and it popped up a screen “Give us $100 Million or the server gets a pair of cement shoes.  Unmarked, non-sequential bills.  At the harbor.  1AM.  Don’t get cocky.”
  • I was ready for that jerk of a salesman today.  I managed to wound Greg with an office chair, but he got away.
  • Upon contacting Tech Support morons again they told me that the sun exploding is as designed.
  • The server room is apparently on fire, igniting the adjacent cafeteria as well.  No lunch today.

That’s it, we’re going back to spreadsheets.

Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Ed it must have been a bad dream – the start is recognizable – like in every soap there is the happy part, then the crisis and finally the happy end.
    You did not follow this best practice 🙂
    Happy holidays and good follow up next year on all dreams , crises and discussions

    • Seasons greetings to you as well, Jos. Thankfully projects with the right leadership have happier outcomes. I do wonder, however, how often an implementation really goes badly south. We know it happens, and I’ve witnessed a few from a distance (no snipers, though!)

  • Joe Brouwer

    I think the problem with the PLM folks is that you treat this as living data. Now in a project the size of an airplane can have many configurations where the used ons are very important. One incorrect dash number put a completely incorrect section in a Boeing Aircraft costing a million dollars.

    In the past I would pull many drawings out to see which configuration the change I was doing was affecting. First it was blue prints, following blue print by blue print to find the final configuration. Then check out the original drawings. It moved to microfiche which was a bit better, all of the drawings were always available.

    The drawing had it all. We could view the drawing on the screen and see all of the information. It seems like we had data sheets included with the used on information. But all of this was done by document control. I believe that data or document control should be a different department as in the past. Professionals that deliver an easy to use document access. I always thought a webpage with all of the pertinent info would be the way to go. These pages would be created by the document control folks, leaving engineering to do it’s job as in the past. Tools necessary, browser to view the page, Adobe reader to view the drawing (a complete drawing) and a CAD package that could read the part/assembly files native or non-native. It would be superior to the completely functional standard system of the past.

    Today, I am not sure what you have. A file name and number? Do the designers have to look at each file for the used on or In some convoluted list? I am sure engineering has been convince by the software that all part have to be linked. Well, that is where the problem started. They really don’t. But that is the nature of the software that you have to work around.

    The BOM should be an independent file only related to the relevant assembly. Imagine only working with one file with no links. Wouldn’t that be easier? Especially if there was an outside document management system.

    The problem starts with tools that may not be configured for data management. The Pro/E paradigm was short sighted but now is being utilized in all of the popular CAD packages. The focus on the CAD program handling the data management was a seemingly obvious solution. But it only works inside the system. This replacing an universal standard?? It could never work.

    I tell you if they would have consulted with drafters, which were the ones that handled all of the documents and delivered them to Document Control it would have focused on a standard from the very beginning.

    It seem to me Ed, that both you and Jos are two that are facing the realities of the failures of PLM, but also have the clout to influence the industry. But sad to say, most are in the pocket of the powers that be. Simplicity is not the word of the day!

    • You’re right Joe that in the quest to drive towards abstract, interconnected data structures, too many human beings were left behind. I sense a shift is occurring that will ultimately answer for the mistakes of the past, and it’s likely to leave a lot of current players in the market wondering what happened. I can’t say that I have any real clout – but every ember onto the fire brings us closer to real progress.

      • Joe Brouwer

        I have been out of the loop running my own business selling CAD and providing engineering services. I have been working with the Boeing suppliers and their problem communicating with Boeing and just basically working around Boeing requirements.

        But I finally looked at this PLM effort and realized that the drafter who was directly responsible for delivering the information to document control was not consulted. Boeings Drafting and Document Control departments were eliminated. Leaving it to the engineers and CAD package to create a new system without the two departments experience that were handling all of the documentation, revision and maintenance since the beginning of Boeing. There are many more system that depended on document control, like planning, liason, etc.

        It really is shocking that a company the size of Boeing would put its document control in the hands of another company. Hmmm I wonder if Dassault has a finger in Airbus?