We frequently hear people talk of manufacturing collaboration. They mostly discuss integrating people, processes, and systems throughout a product's lifecycle. The product lifecycle is defined as a product's "life" from an idea/concept through design, manufacture, sales/service, and retirement.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software allows visibility of product events and decisions to interested employees. Visibility allows people to work together on design, manufacturing issues, sales issues, and to learn lessons that prevent repeating mistakes.
The one element that ties product management issues together, though, is understanding. Employees who understand the concepts, constraints, and needs of others across the company are able to make better decisions and reduce conflict. Examples include:
- Concept and design employees can make better decisions if they understand your manufacturing processes and capabilities. The conceptual product can either be adapted to current manufacturing capabilities or the design team can better articulate the need to expand production capabilities.
- Design and manufacturing employees who understand customer issues with previous products can prevent the recurrence of mistakes and can improve customer service capabilities.
- Manufacturing employees who understand design needs and trends are better able to budget and prepare for the necessary equipment and tooling to meet emerging trends.
We now have an amazing selection of collaboration tools available. Social Networking tools provide employees with an intuitive and "organic" means to share their experiences and ideas. Intelligent search tool capabilities reduce our need to impose burdensome formats to human conversation. These "social" tools do require discipline to prevent inappropriate behavior and ensure security, but offer tremendous benefit in encouraging and capturing conversation.