PLM, Product Value Chain, and My Backyard Garden

It’s July and as the temperatures rise here in the US, I’m looking forward to summertime cook-outs, vacations, and sipping a cool beverage poolside. Summer is my favorite season, so every Spring I enjoy the anticipation by trying my hand at gardening. But looking in the backyard now, while all my neighbors’ gardens are flourishing, mine only shows a handful of green tomatoes, unhealthy squash, and fist-sized watermelons. This happened last year, too. After all that springtime effort and investment, this is maddening!

My Fruit & Vegetable Development Problem

My garden can be described with one word: meh. My frustration reminds me of the challenges that product development executives share with us in early meetings – unable to achieve their expected return, inconsistent product information, can’t produce the final product on time nor on budget, not sure what caused defects, no way to tell if a project is bad and needs refocusing or abandoning, and so on.

What’s Happening?

Growing delicious vegetables from seed takes more than a regular gardening system of daily watering and abundant sunshine. I understood that but thought to myself, “How bad can it be if I plant these cucumbers too close together? Or plant corn near the tomatoes? Or skip the fertilizer a few weeks?” My meager garden proves there is a whole chain of events that you must orchestrate well prior to planting and afterwards, if you’re going to be the envy of the neighborhood. Similarly, for product development to be successful, there are certain steps you must nail before and after the development phase to win market share and profit over peers. Every year those steps get more complex thanks to competitive, technological, environmental, economic, and demographic fluctuations. It’s because of this business reality that Oracle encourages development executives to view their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) processes in terms of the broader series of activities and data points that influence their products, or in other words, the entire Product Value Chain.

Why Product Value Chain?

For a company, having a solid, functional PLM system is like me having a good vegetable garden. One is an effective, efficient approach to growing seeds into food you can eat, and another is an effective, efficient approach to developing concepts into products you can sell. In both scenarios, there are tools and techniques to control quality, to keep your costs down, work together with teammates or suppliers or other gardeners, and track progress over time.

So where does that fall short? No matter how good a garden is, if I plant seeds too close together or the wrong species they will cannibalize each other’s production or drain my time and money. If you launch the wrong products or even the right ones too soon, they will suffer, waste your resources and erode customer retention. And after production, what then? To be honest, I have no idea what varieties of tomatoes I planted – I lost those tiny seed packets a long time ago. Your customers and stakeholders likely demand to know the full composition of your products and they expect to access that information, consistently, on whatever channel they please. Have you managed to preserve it all? Do you know where and how you'll disseminate consistently?

My Imagination Garden

If I imagine my ideal garden, not only would it help me grow edible vegetables every year, it would help me choose which seeds to plant, when, where, and how often for the best outcomes. It would speed growth, alert me of any problems, facilitate corrections, help me collaborate with other gardeners, and keep me from wasting money and time on extra soil, water or the wrong seeds. It would essentially attach the seed packet info to each plant and preserve it through storms and bugs. I hope it would do more wonderful things I can’t even dream up.

Your Business Can’t Afford to Run on Imagination, and It Doesn’t Have To

My dream garden may not exist yet beyond some disconnected mobile apps to guide me, but that’s not the case for you. The Oracle Product Value Chain suite of solutions is next-gen PLM for today’s product development. It expands the traditional scope of PLM to comprehensively govern the entire chain of activities and data that touch your products, from determining which ideas carry the most profit potential to commercializing to continuously improving based on insight. A modern Product Value Chain solution aligns innovation by helping users capture and invest in the right, strategic ideas as a repeatable business process.  That improves market performance and predictability. It accelerates development by allowing users to manage and coordinate the product data and processes that drive productive collaboration, while at the same time, balancing cost, quality and compliance. It synchronizes commercialization through a rapid network that launches on-time with accurate data across a global supply chain and multiple sales channels. And ultimately, a modern Product Value Chain constantly delivers transformative insight with powerful analytics that give knowledge workers fresh insight to optimize product performance. What's the value? Very simply, it helps a company predictably gain a higher profit, grow revenue, compete smarter and make customers happier with better product offerings.

The New Frontier

Managing the entire Product Value Chain as a holistic, sustainable innovation ecosystem is the new frontier for product development. Learn more at or talk to your Oracle Sales Representative. You can tweet me your questions/comments @KerJordan. I’m also accepting gardening advice.

Image: My own backyard


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« November 2015