August, 2016

In CMstat’s recent whitepaper on “Nimble Configuration Management for the Contract Supply & Service Chain we shared the top CM requirements for hardware configuration management heard most often over our twenty-plus years of supporting customers in the A&D industry.  They are:

  1. Intuitive and easily mastered in everyday use by the CM expert or occasional use by program managers.
  2. Deployable quickly and rolled out with minimal demand on IT resources and with a no-programming approach.
  3. Compact, simple, and efficient for contractors who must often deploy many different solutions to support all their OEMs and contracts.
  4. Affordable with low initial cost and with a low total lifecycle cost of ownership.
  5. Nimble and adaptable to accommodate unforeseen tasks, new workflows, and digital connections.
  6. Durable and resilient over the life of even the longest programs regardless of the original design requirements or the up-front contract stipulations.
  7. Portable across different program contracts and at different levels of maturity.
  8. Scalable and robust to accommodate the cycles of program growth, complexity, and contraction as needs percolate down through the supply chain.
  9. Secure in both standalone and connected modes of operation.
  10. Capable with deep functionality and features needed by CM professionals in production use.

As discussed in our paper, there are many factors that influence the priority and weight assigned to each of these desired attributes. It is not surprising that there is a substantial variance in the order of importance based on the customer’s industry and products manufactured, as well as whether they operate as an OEM or in the supply chain.

Surprisingly, there is a huge range in the expectations and “tolerance” of users for the time, cost, and resources they believe will be expended to meet these requirements.

It appears that years of suffering through massive enterprise IT deployments of ERP, PLM, SCM, MRO, and CRM solutions have created two biases which influence requirements for narrow functions such as CM.

Some believe based on their enterprise experiences that satisfying CM requirements cannot be achieved without big-bang thinking, big-buck deployments, and big-gulp process re-engineering.

Others, having experienced the very same enterprise implementations, conclude that fast incremental improvements can best be attained by implementing a portfolio of industry focused, lower cost, best-in-class applications. The enterprise then has the option of integrating these applications – where and when it makes the most sense as resources become available – to then create a federated PLM platform that is inherently more sustainable, upgradeable, and robust over the long term.

In the next several CMsight posts we will examine both perspectives when used to filter and dissect the most important requirements that contractors have for their CM strategy and supporting software.

In the interim, we begin with the following poll questions whose results we will share next month: