For those of you that have purchased the complete Lizzy system, you might have noticed a PDM menu. If you do not, and after reading this article you decide you might like to give it a try, give us a call and we’ll turn it on for you as it is something you can use if you want. We do leave this particular module turned off by default for most of our customers due to most not using it. In this article we’re going to discuss just what PDM is and how it works with relation to the rest of the Lizzy CRM system.
PDM – Product Data Management is a program that basically manages a particular product from start to finish. This would include the initial creation, testing, release, tracking problems, making changes and eventually testing and releasing again. So lets take a look at how we use Lizzy’s PDM system here at nizeX, to help answer the question of “What Is PDM?”.
To start with, someone has an idea or suggestion that needs to be added to the product. Normally you’d write this on a page in a notebook or stick it in a Word document you created somewhere to keep track of all your needs and wants. The problem with this process though is that a Word Document doesn’t easily lend itself to scheduling and assigning those needs, which forces you to purchase some sort of scheduling software to help with this.
Now lets take a look at how we use Lizzy to track our PDM needs list. We simply create tickets. These tickets could be thought of as a bunch of sticky notes that we paste all over our office walls, but in reality they are stored in a massive database that can track the need, who it is assigned to, when it will be scheduled, if any work has been done on it yet and so forth. So already, you can see we’ve merged two old method systems for tracking needs and placed them inside a single, easy to use software package.
Going back to our old methods, at some point we have (in our case software engineers) multiple engineers/developers/mechanics… that don’t have anything to work on. We need to find something in our Word document that we can put on the schedule for them. Again, this is a find a need, place it on someone’s plate process. With Lizzy we simply add a persons name and date we wish for them to start work onto the ticket. Lizzy has a massive holding tank where tickets sit until we get time to work on them. They will never be lost or misplaced and they will always be tracked from creation to completion. But while we’re on this plate lets side step for a moment to discuss another aspect of a solidly integrated PDM system. Just where do most of those tickets (needs) come from?
In our case, its our customers. Sure, we have lots of great ideas of things we want to add to Lizzy to help us run nizeX, but our customers have lots of diverse businesses and are constantly coming up with things we could do to help them run them better. So imagine if we were using a Word document to manage all of this. How would we keep up with all the different customers that might need the same thing? How would we make sure that the customer could easily review their list of issues in order to make sure we’re doing our jobs? This is where Lizzy really starts to shine. Lizzy’s CRM system is where the PDM tickets originate, which means that logging a telephone call from the customer is Step 1 and creating a ticket is Step 2. These tickets forever stay linked to the customers account and not only do they stay tracked and linked from start to finish, but they literally feed the PDM system.
Now you might be asking, how on earth do we keep track of the literally thousands of tickets being added to our plate each month? To answer the question, just imagine what it would be like to create a ticket (a sticky note) and forget about it. The ticket feeds into someone else’s plate (the product manager) who is responsible for scheduling tickets and making sure things are getting done. He has the ability to reject the ticket back to the support rep if its something that could be solved another way, or he’ll escalate the ticket into the PDM system where the admin there will physically schedule it to a future release of the product or will go ahead and push it into a hot release which in our case goes out ever few weeks.
Imagine that you can schedule tickets for your engineers and the only thing you have to worry about is that you don’t schedule more than they can do in a single day. In fact, you really don’t even need to worry with that because Lizzy comes complete with “ART” (Automatic Rescheduling Technology) that is responsible for automatically shuffling tickets around so that your engineers never have “Nothing” to do. If they finish all of their tickets today it will automatically grab everything for tomorrow and reschedule it for today. Not only that, but it also reschedules their entire GANTT chart which means that your ending schedule is always moving based on the productivity of your engineers.
You’d think at this point that we’ve covered what PDM does, but there are a couple more things built into Lizzy’s PDM system that you should be aware of. I mean lets face it, adding code to a program or adding a physical switch to a device or a blade to a lawnmower is only half the problem. Someone has to test these changes to make sure they actually work and that brings in a whole lot of other processes like how is the test to be performed, who is to do the test, when are they to do the test and so forth. All of these and more are already resident in Lizzy and being used every single day by us to track the changes that we make to Lizzy. Seems pretty cool when you think about it, we actually use Lizzy to track changes to Lizzy itself.
A few other things a PDM system does for you is track your changes, helps you write up release notes and then produces those releases for you. They should allow you to schedule multiple future releases and the normal assortment of productivity reports, Gantt charts and so on. But at the end of the day, a PDM system should be managing your entire product line from start to finish and everything in between. Even to communicate to your customers the list of enhancements that have been added to the product once its released. I mean Lizzy even notifies our customers when we start and finish the tickets they’ve entered so that our developers and engineers can stay focused on getting as much done as possible each day.