ANN ARBOR — The product lifecycle management consulting and research firm CIMdata has published a new white paper on SAP and its collaborative product definition management offering SAP PLM.

SAP PLM was one of the first ERP supplier offerings in the then newly defined PLM market space. Over the last several years, the company has expended significant effort to enhance the functionality and usability of SAP PLM, mainly through organic development. The new functionality released in SAP PLM 7.0 and now planned for 7.01 appears to be moving their offering from manufacturing-centric to being more engineering and enterprise friendly. Their MCAD integrations continue to be improved by their PLM Alliance partners, and have shown acceptance by engineering groups in recent implementations. Support for BOM management and configuration management is also enhanced.

One of the biggest philosophical changes for SAP is to put 3D information in the center of the decision-making process. Their acquisition of Right Hemisphere and the deep integration of their offerings in the SAP PLM solution and in the value scenarios illustrate their commitment to this shift in emphasis. SAP has also embedded BusinessObjects technology in SAP PLM with the Business Context Viewer, which provides on-demand business intelligence to support product lifecycle decisions.

This CIMdata Program Review provides more information on the company and their offerings, which have grown to include project and program management, idea management, and collaboration applications. CIMdata is encouraged by SAP’s technology and the go-to-market improvements described in this paper. Some of their initial introductions, like PPM, have contributed to the incremental increases in SAP PLM revenues during the last several years, as reported in our global PLM market study.

SAP’s move to the “fuzzy front end” of the innovation process could not come at a better time. Companies are more focused on the top line than ever, and ideation is the starting point. The fact that SAP has developed both an integrated solution called Edison and plans to include solutions to support collaboration outside the firewall like SAP StreamWork in ideation workflows should position them well for the open innovation that many companies see as crucial to their market success.

“SAP PLM Program Review” is available free at


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