Product Development Project Management with SaaS PLM

By Chad Jackson

Product development project managers have a mantra: Keep things on time and under budget. Staying on schedule is vital to the product development process, so many organizations rely on project and program management tools to avoid delays. Software-as-a-service product lifecycle management (SaaS PLM) solutions with project management capabilities provide secure access to product information and tasks anywhere in the world, even for those working from home.

Lifecycle Insights offers eBooks for those who’d like to take a deeper dive into the business drivers for cloud-based SaaS PLM. Topics include the best PLM strategies to satisfy requirements and meet delivery deadlines, and PLM benefits of the digital twin and the digital thread for smart, connected product development.

The Importance of Staying on Schedule for Product Development Project Management

Issues can come up at many points in the product development process. So it’s vital to have good visibility into all aspects of the process as well as the ability to take proactive action. Without those capabilities, organizations cannot hope to keep product development projects on schedule.

Today’s manufacturing organizations are looking for new ways to keep up with development schedules. In fact, this was the top issue driving change for 20% of respondents in Lifecycle Insights’ 2020 Engineering Executive’s Strategic Agenda study. An additional 25% ranked it as the second most-pressing change driver.

So how can a company keep its projects on track and on time? In this post, we detail the key role SaaS PLM-based project management plays in development, and how it is especially suited for today’s work-from-home landscape.

The Role of Project and Program Management

Project managers are responsible for well-known and essential activities that govern the product development process. These are time, tasks, and budget. Time, of course, needs no explanation. Project managers need to make sure that design teams meet key deadlines and deliver products as scheduled. Tasks are all of the plans and activities involved with the design of a product, including each component, assembly, or system. Budget is also self-explanatory.

Project managers oversee plans built from a list of specific tasks. They hold regular meetings to stay up to date on task progress. Keeping track of status for the many tasks required is vital to transparency. Project managers need to keep tabs on a project’s individual tasks while monitoring the aggregate progress—and, of course, whether the design team is ahead or behind.

This is especially important in development projects involving design teams from many different domains, such as mechanical hardware, electronics, electrical systems, and onboard software. If these teams don’t coordinate their activities, delays result—for example, the software development team might wait weeks for a circuit board prototype to test compatibility. And then the entire company, from team managers to executives, will struggle to stay on time.

But when project managers and other stakeholders can see the status of every ongoing development task at once, they can be more proactive: reallocating tasks, reassigning work, or shifting schedules to ensure that critical deadlines will be met.

Product Development Project Management and SaaS PLM

SaaS PLM solutions excel here. Their ability to onboard new participants quickly, regardless of their physical location, helps project managers better monitor and assess the status of dozens of critical tasks across the product development process. Often provided through the cloud, SaaS solutions can be easily accessed from almost any location and at any time through the use of a common web browser. This allows anyone, from anywhere around the globe, to quickly and easily participate in status updates.

Companies that use this approach can integrate more easily with other project management and computer-aided design (CAD) tools. Cloud-based solutions often offer the use of various web services, so manufacturers can easily share information across different systems with stakeholders. This allows many organizations to share project updates, including additional details about particular tasks.

When you put the pieces together, SaaS PLM solutions give project managers a clear window into the status of any product development project, even when participants are working from home. As a result, projects remain on schedule because managers can address issues in the early stages of the product development process. This is true even given the condensed timelines that many organizations have to work with.

On Time, On Task Product Development

Successful project management requires juggling time, tasks, and resources. As manufacturers face increasingly constricted timelines to deliver more complex products, it is critical they have clear visibility into the status of every task and sub-task underlying product development. The use of SaaS PLM solutions offers project managers that kind of visibility—helping them stay on schedule even when working with stakeholders inside or outside of the office.

To learn more about PLM for product development startup companies and manufacturers of all sizes, read Lifecycle Insights’ eBook, “The Product Development Dilemma: Five Strategies for Product Development Leaders to Satisfy Product Requirements and Meet Delivery Deadlines.“ You can also read the companion eBook, “Building Smart, Connected Products: Leading Manufacturers Reduce Product Development Challenges with These Key Technology Enablers,” and my most recent blog posts, “Product Requirements Management across Domains for the Product Lifecycle.” Check out my video blog: “Product Development Startup Secrets for Success.”

The concepts, ideas and positions of the video, blog post, and eBooks have been developed independently by Industry Analyst Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at