Think of your raining coat inside your PLM system!

I faced a business issue managing files inside a PLM system. Files! File management is a big topic usually, because it seems simple while it is not at all. Why? Because usually, the PLM system makes a difference between files and documents, documents being metadata, with files attached. And usually, these metadata are not included in the file, we sell the PLM system to the users telling them that it allows them to not think about naming and revision or other metadata, because the system will do that for them.

The point is that files are well managed while the users use the system, but as soon as the file has to go outside (and it may happen frequently), then the files lose all the metadata which where included in the document. No Document name, no revision level, no status, nothing. The file is naked!

We often remind this rule for IT systems that while you look to one system, usually everything works fine, but as soon as your data has to go in or out of your application, you may have some issues. This is basically the case when you design IT interfaces between applications, or migrate data from one application to another. But it is as well the case for users needing to use several system or send or receive files from/to the outside (partners, customers, suppliers). This is in my view not often properly handled nor understood well, and how this external exchange constraints can ruin the clean user process you feel you have perfectly cover inside the PLM system.

I found a way today to provide a picture about that situation that anyone can understand, related to our common lifes.

As far as you stay at home, you set your warming equipments to be dry and warm inside your house. The point is that at one point in time, you need to go outside, and there, it may be cold and rainy.  So you arrange your home to have a raining coat inside your house, to be used outside.

It’s the same behaviour we should have designing our PLM system, especially for files. And ask ourselves: what will be the raining coat that files will need as soon as they have to go outside? Because they will have to!

Hope it helps!

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