During project start-up, the primary activity is to get the people involved to agree on the objectives of the EDM/PDM project, the way they will approach it, and the deliverables. The people most involved at this stage are top management, the project team leader, and the other project team members.
The successful introduction of an EDM/PDM system is a long-term, cross-functional and costly process. These attributes imply that it is not an easy process, and will be much more difficult than the introduction of an individual productivity improvement tool such as a CAD system. It will be hindered by various factors such as:
The first thing to do is to get top management support. If you don't get top management support, the EDM/PDM project will fail. Remember, EDM/PDM is cross-functional, it's costly, and it's long-term. Secondly, 'top management' in this context is not as vague as usual. It either means 'CEO' or 'Engineering VP and Manufacturing VP'. Again, remember EDM/PDM is cross-functional. It's not only for the Engineering Department, and the chances are that if you come up with a good solution for the Engineering Department, without involving the other departments, then none of them will be willing to use it or to help you. (Most of the other departments are data customers of the Engineering Department, and they should be treated as Engineering's customers. The Engineering Department should supply its customers according to their requirements, not as a function of its own limitations.) Other top managers, such as the IS VP and the TQ VP can be of help by supporting the project, but because they are not 'line-involved', there is a limit to the support they can offer.
Top management defines the objective of the project, gives responsibility and authority to the EDM/PDM project team leader, and informs interested parties throughout the company about the project and its objectives. In particular, top management should inform managers of functions where engineering information is created or used. They should make it clear to these managers that the project team leader has authority to ask questions and to ask for details of documents, systems and activities related to engineering information. In turn, these middle managers can inform their subordinates what is happening, and ask them to provide the necessary information.
Top management support is needed at the beginning of the project, and it will also be needed in the long-term.
Some people would claim that top management does not know enough about EDM/PDM to be able to define the objectives of an EDM/PDM project. The answer to this is that if top management does not know enough about EDM/PDM to define the objectives, then the project should not be started until top management does know enough to define them. If top management can not define the objectives of the company, who can?
The project team leader
The project team leader is given the authority and responsibility for the project by top management. As the project will be long and time-consuming, it is unlikely that the project leader will be a top manager. More likely, the project leader will be a middle manager reporting directly to a top management EDM/PDM sponsor and champion. As this project is going to be cross-functional and involve working at many levels in the company, the team leader should be picked with care.
Typical characteristics for a good EDM/PDM project team leader include:
In addition a good project leader should: