• Systems Engineering
  • Product and Portfolio Management

    The second element of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is Product and Portfolio Management (PPM). PPM encompasses the control and allocation of all resources needed to develop and sustain a product through its entire lifecycle. PPM employs such disciplines as economics, business mechanics, marketing, and supplier & customer networking in order to establish a properly informed game plan that guides the company in what it needs to do, and how and when it needs to do it. It provides the framework in which the company’s modus operandi, strategic objectives and financial goals are established and executed.

    Two main forces drive the momentum of PPM.

    • The maximization of value-added results.
    • The minimization of resource expenditures.

    Every company fights the battle of balancing these two forces to manage project activities within the constraints of time, money, personnel, materials and equipment. Many companies err by trying to control the effects of these resources without controlling the resources themselves. The resources are the foundation and potential of the company and how they are used is the structure of that potential. In order to have a solid company, there must be a solid foundation. If the resources are not the best, then no matter what is done with them, the success of the company will suffer.

    Time and Money

    Time and Money are the two most unforgiving resources. While these resources cannot be directly controlled, every effort must be made to ensure that they are not wasted. Time or money that creates a net loss to the company should never be considered acceptable - only recoverable. It’s important to distinguish lost time or money versus the net effect the loss has. For example, paying higher salaries and benefits in order to gain personnel with better work ethic is a net gain for the company. On the other hand, spending time to correct a design that was not done properly the first time causes a net loss and is unacceptable, yet recoverable.

    We understand materials and production processes.

    Personnel are quite predictable, because their value-added output is proportional to their treatment. This must never be forgotten or compromised. Personnel are both a resource and an investment. And just like any investment, they can either pay dividends or cause loss of net worth. However, the effect personnel have is dependent upon the company. The company must recruit good personnel, and not be afraid to dismiss underperforming individuals. People must be rewarded for their efforts and be empowered to effectively use their skillset. This approach creates a workforce that is proud of their work and their company, and an ethos of integrity, teamwork and excellence.

    High-quality CNC Lathes

    Materials are the most flexible of all the resources. The age-old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is always relevant when it comes to the materials resource. The key to selecting the proper materials goes back to part of the definition of engineering, which is to ensure a product’s ‘intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.’ A company’s profit should NEVER take priority over this concept. Safety, function and market cost are the driving forces for material requisition. The day a company chooses its profit over these factors is the day it begins to close its doors. Cost can always be reduced with efficient use of the resources.

    In-house Production Capabilities

    Equipment is the toolset used to form raw materials into products. Again, ‘you get what you pay for’ is true with this resource as well. The quality of the tools has a direct impact on the quality of the product. Perhaps the most important aspect of the equipment resource is not how expensive the tool is, but how well it’s maintained. The consistent and faithful performance of preventative maintenance is critical for stabilizing the quality of the product and eliminating unnecessary losses in production time and equipment costs due to unscheduled shutdowns.

    With the PPM foundation built, the allocation and management of resources can be most efficient. This management includes, but is not limited to:

    1. Budget Management – establishing budgets based on the financial goals and strategic objectives of the company.
    2. Pipeline Management – identifying projects and establishing which order they are executed.
    3. Risk Management – determining the uncertainties that exist within a product’s lifecycle and creating plans to deal with them. This includes turning uncertainties into certainties by means of testing and research, where possible.
    4. Resource Management – managing personnel, materials and equipment based on delivery requirements.
    5. Change Control Management – handling the continuous need to upgrade products to meet the latest technologies. This includes obsolescence of older technologies.
    6. Marketing – communicating externally about products the company offers as well as monitoring market trends and competitors’ activities.

    The effective use of these principles creates solid companies that are highly capable of handling the variability that exists in technologies and markets.