For many of us these days, we are more often finding that our work and personal lives are running parallel.

I recently completed my role in a large enterprise PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) implementation project. After joining the project right after the vendor selection and participating in all phases of the design and implementation, I am stepping out right before training and system “go live.” This PLM implementation represents a huge transformation for the client, and by the end of the project, I was also getting ready for one of the biggest changes of my life.

It started with my family’s decision to move. Moving represented a shift from what was familiar and comfortable – but perhaps no longer the ideal environment for this phase of our lives.

My family and I weighed the benefits and rewards of such a change: selecting the new house, getting the old one ready for sale and packing up our belongings. From the logistics of deciding on the least disruptive move-in date to notifying friends and family we were leaving town…so many details, so much planning and then the need for all that coordinated execution. The juxtaposition of our move and this recent project made me see a PLM implementation project in a whole new light.

I remember taking a class where the professor explained the difference between a didactic teaching moment – in which the teacher tells you what you need to know – and an experiential teaching moment – where, as the student unaware of being taught, you fully engage, and on the other side of that engagement you find yourself truly “getting it.” You feel the teachable moment at your core, you can recall how it felt, the twists and turns of your mind as you uncover the lesson. The experiential moments stay with you forever. They create empathy and understanding that is deeper and more impactful.

As consultants we often understand all the steps required to take a project from start to finish. PLM Software Selection? Been there, done that. PLM System Implementation? Did one of those last quarter. But a company undergoing their first PLM implementation has not had these same experiences, and herein lays my new understanding – one I am excited to have gained.

I was clear on the benefits of our move, and so as I sit in my half unpacked house, deciding where to put this bowl, or that chair, as I figure out how to use my new oven because I can’t find my toaster, I realize the desire to make the change, the effort to actually make it and the energy and expense to do so are only one part of the puzzle: the “doing” part. The bigger part of this life-changing event is how I choose to feel about every new experience, every bump, and every glitch: happy or sad, excited or unnerved: I call this the “being” part.

Last night for the first time, I cooked in my new kitchen and savored that I could pull a meal together. The garage is still filled with unpacked boxes, half of my belongings are still in storage, and I can’t wait to paint every room in the house.

These changes won’t happen overnight.

Nonetheless, I am still excited by all the possibilities choosing to make this major move has allowed.

At our client, an entire team of dedicated, committed people has spent the last year painstakingly choosing a vendor, reviewing processes, designing a new way of doing things and reaching out to their user community over and over again to engage in conversations about how the PLM system will be used and how it will feel to do business in new ways.

As we approach the next phase, where users will “move in” i.e. receive training, migrate data, input new data and start to do their daily activities, I am imagining that these users, who were invited all along to “cook their first meal” will have the patience and understanding to accept and embrace the change, and to realize that it takes time to settle in to a new home, a home that was selected and implemented with you in mind. Change is hard, yes, but clearly we impact how hard it is by embracing or resisting it.

I am anticipating the first day our client’s designers set up a style, or the moment in the product development process where a sample status changes from rejected to approved, and there is an internal moment where the users say: “that works better.” I can imagine the reports being poured over and the business running smoother with everything in one system and entire teams saying: “what an improvement, this PLM system was the right choice.” There will also be moments where frustration will set in and discussions must take place to resolve issues.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Change is a work in progress. New home, new habits and new experiences, some will delight and others will take time getting used to. As our client and its users ready for their PLM system launch, I will remember that to them, this is not just a project – this is a new home, and like me it will take time to move in and get comfortable. But many wonderful opportunities are just around the corner and all the disruption in the end is worth it because after all there is “no place like home.”

– The Parker Avery Group

Published On: May 15, 2014Categories: Change Management, PLM, System Implementation, The Parker Avery Group