Product Lifecycle Management Blogs by SAP
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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Discrete manufacturing, which ranges from toys to aircraft, is dependent on a variety of manufacturing systems, inventory management, and an almost endless number of other variables. Increasing the need for an integrated digital thread.

Characterized by multiple work sites located around the country or the world that produce different parts of a product, with each part coming together at the end of production to form the finished product. Unlike process manufacturing, discrete manufacturing allows raw materials to be recycled or returned to their original state. As the industry dynamics have evolved so have the tools that equip companies to manage the product development process.

Working as part of the SAP Enterprise Product Development team, I recently got the opportunity to have a front seat as a moderator for the first public virtual customer council from April 4 to 7, for the solution. Through this event the team showcased how product development can be accelerated with reduced time to value and costs using the various processes to define, develop and deliver any product to the market.

After the first day where the team presented how to build integrated business processes with the solution to enable the digital thread; April 5 focused on SAP Enterprise Product Development roadmap for Manufacturing Industries. What I liked very much in particular was the closed-loop process visualization of the define, develop, and deliver process area overviews that elegantly conveyed the story of ideation to execution to consumption and back to ideation to realize a true feedback loop data-driven product development that ultimately brings customer delight.

In the race of rapid innovation, it is important that the product managers and engineers calibrate their priorities with the real needs of the market. Investing in multiple new product features may be tempting to expand the solution portfolio; but at the same time what really matters would be the acceptance of the solution by the market. To which, it is critical to consider voice of your customer when taking such decisions, this can set you apart from the competition and equip you with the necessary data to drive a future-fit product development process that is truly data driven and in fact the first step to democratize the manufacturing process.

It would also be beneficial to consider the disruptions that the actual manufacturing process has with the increasing usage of 3-D printers; giving more flexibility to product designers to expand the resource pool to include more materials and non-conventional design ideas, that would be a challenge for the monolithic approach to manufacturing, but very feasible with 3-D printed models/products.

In addition to the actual product, the governance can also be supported with sensors that are integrated with IoT (Internet of things), that not only aide real-time monitoring but also generate usage data insights that can be used for simulations for predictive maintenance, and to take other key business decisions.

Bringing all of these aspects beautifully together, the team highlighted the various planned innovations and upcoming features. SAP Enterprise Product Development is a Cloud PLM solution designed to create a seamless digital thread. 

  • The “Define” process area enables product teams to engineer detailed requirement models based on business and customer needs. 

  • The “Develop” process area enables product teams to detail out and implement product architectures and models. 

  • The “Deliver” process area enables product teams to increase customer satisfaction

  • The core in Enterprise Product Development is designed to gradually extend the functional coverage to "Manage Product Data" across the extended enterprise. ​

Personally, it was a wonderful experience to attend the customer council, listen to the product owners, and subject matter experts. It gave me a new perspective to look at the supply chain and product development – where co-creating plans for new product releases with not just the product engineers but also the suppliers, manufactures, customer and the actual data from any integrated IoT sensors – can be the differentiating factor that makes your product the choice of the market.

The event, though virtual, also had a social element to it with the networking session towards the end, where we got to hear about some ongoing experimentations within the product development team at SAP, on the possible plans to use our own solution to drive the development process within the team. And the cherry on the cake was how the team plans to feed the comments received during the customer council into this process to ensure a closed feedback loop for the roadmap for SAP Enterprise Product Development.

If you are interested in joining the conversation on digitizing product development to develop intelligent and sustainable products; stay tuned on the SAP Enterprise Product Development Community to get updates about the upcoming winter customer council later this year.


About the author

Yash Agrawal works with the Operation Excellence team as part of the PLM & Engineering Cloud acceleration team. With experience of development teams of SAP Enterprise Product Development, Customer Office for PLM & Engineering, and other cross-business topics. He contributes to product adoption, acceleration, and customer success.