Pursuing a Lean or Agile Approach
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Pursuing a Lean or Agile Approach

Brian Hicks, Director ERP PLM, USANA Health Sciences

How has your Product Lifecycle Management model changed during the last five years?

The foundational structure of USANA PLM model has not changed much over the past five years. The intent of the PLM model within USANA was initially designed to simplify and facilitate the flow of processes surrounding product, quality, and document management. While the core purpose has remained the same, changes over the past five years have come focusing on the depth and breadth in which the PLM application and PLM processes operate. In short, USANA has expanded the PLM model to incorporate adjoining processes while increasing focus on refining existing process that surround traditional PLM models. Out of lack of maturity, desire for simplicity and dedication to the limited understanding of users, USANA’s PLM processes were initially silo’d and lacked a systematic vision across the organization. The improvements made have focused on linking related processes to the one overall central point of introduction of product attributes whether they the improvements are relating to the product, related quality events, or document management.

What do you think are the biggest obstacles that technologists face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model?

PLM systems traditionally have been very much focused on an all-encompassing approach to the gathering of product attributes and items setup. Very rarely have we seen a lean or agile approach to product setup. However, as industries face increasing needs to reduce a product’s time to market, principles such as agile, lean and Kaizan are becoming more and more prevalent. This movement is driving changes within the cultural processes surrounding the product development process and into the overall product lifecycle. Agile and lean methodologies that have previously been prevalent in the software development and manufacturing workspaces have not been actively embraced in marketing, finance, and other arenas within the organization. Getting each one of key players culturally involved in the agile process is critical to ensure that each stakeholder understands their role on the team and their respective impact to the process.

  ​Getting each one of our key players culturally involved in the agile process is critical to ensure that each stakeholder understands their role on the team and their respective impact to the process  

Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a major mindset shift in IT. How did you make that happen?

We are still in the process of transitioning off of the old models to allow IT to be a key component of the overall business. USANA has focused on providing value to all players across the organization by focusing on product owners collaborative interaction with business partners and individual markets. This focus will help USANA to move from being a cost on the balance sheet to a service provider and eventually become a revenue generator within our organization.

What set of skills do you think is required for the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) technology leaders to be successful in the new enterprise landscape?

Leaders within the PLM sector must have an overall understanding of the organizational culture in which the product lifecycle operates. They need to evangelize the overall systematic relationship across multiple components of the organization to ensure each player understands their value to the successful development and launch of the given product. Their ability to facilitate the organizational understanding of respective roles will be directly correlated to the value and quality of the product.

Which PLM growing or future technology innovations are you personally excited about?

Technology is continuing to rapidly change and the PLM space is no different. The thing that makes innovation throughout the PLM space exciting is the increased availability of information across multiple platforms. Mobile is huge, but the synchronization of the PLM suite with other data points opens up increased ability to identify trends and allow teams to make data driven decisions to decrease a products time to market and truly manage the overall product profitability portfolio.

We are all dealing with technology every day. How does technology drive your life?

Everything we do on a daily basis is impacted by technology. The key is to achieve the right level of balance with technology and personalization. Technology is available to assist us in driving value to our organizations. If we get lost in weeds of the technology we may not be aware enough to see that there are other forms of technology, tools, or processes that will enable us to be more productive, efficient, and valuable. It is important that we ensure the technology that drives us today is not the technology that holds us back tomorrow.


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