PLM Interest Group














PLM as a Profession


After more than 15 years as a business discipline, it is time for the PLM industry to establish a well-defined, internationally-recognised professional structure.


The Professional PLM Initiative has been formed to make this happen.

The way forward could range from formal methods of training and qualification, to PLM becoming a genuine profession, alongside engineering, law, and accountancy.


This will be a significant step forward, and will change the way that PLM practitioners work.  There are many issues to be debated, and collective decisions to be made. The process is well under way, and is summarised below.



Navigating the Subject

This page contains an Overview of the whole subject, explaining the background to why the Initiative was launched, its working premise, and how it intends to move forward.

Other pages cover:-



Professional PLM - The Theme

One of the first things to agree may be the degree of formality that should be established.  Nobody wants unnecessary bureaucracy or regulation.

That is why the initial theme of this discussion is 'Professional PLM', in its very widest sense.

This allows the debate to cover the whole range of possibilities for bringing about a level of professional performance that is recognisable as such amongst your peers, and by all of the other disciplines within an organisation.

You can read the background discussions, with contributions from Purdue University, Volkswagen Group, Cimdata, SQS and the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center here.

Meanwhile the Initiative continues to develop as below.



Professional PLM - The Premise

To focus the debate in the direction most likely to produce action and improvement, we are now working to the following premise:-

  • PLM is a specialty in its own right;
  • of sufficient complexity that its practitioners should be certified to carry it out;
  • of sufficient value to the business world to warrant its being recognised as a profession; and,
  • steps should be taken to establish that professional status.

There is already some movement towards certification and professionalism in PLM.



Professional PLM - Current Shortfalls

What we don't have today is a clear career path for PLM practitioners. There is no agreement about:-

  • what a PLM Professional should know
  • the specific skills that a PLM Professional should have
  • the experience a PLM Professional should have
  • the tools a PLM Professional should be able to use
  • the different PLM Professional roles and job titles
  • what constitutes a senior PLM Professional
  • how to evaluate a candidate for a PLM position
  • how to demonstrate PLM expertise

What we do have today are most of the building blocks that we need.  There are well-established commercial and academic training programmes that are around the right level.  For a professional qualification, their content would need to be reviewed so that all recognised courses meet the same agreed criteria - but nevertheless, the providers are there.  There is at least one PLM Certification programme (above) that is advanced enough in its detail and industrial collaboration to become the template for a new standard.

And it seems that there is tremendous pent-up demand, with many PLM practitioners tired of working in a kind of industrial "twilight" where their effort and achievements are rarely seen.  They would like a vehicle to express their views and to publicise their skills and experience.



Professional PLM - The Initiative


The only way to generate enough momentum for change is to channel the demand for Professional PLM into a formalised Initiative.  This allows a project structure to be developed.


Publicity and Awareness

Firstly, the world needs to know about this.  John Stark publicised the issues in a series of LinkedIn posts, asking the questions:-

The response to these posts has been dramatic.  In addition to the direct comments, more than 300 PLM practitioners from 33 countries liked the discussions.

The number of endorsements and the almost worldwide geographical scope suggests a massive latent demand for more professionalism in PLM.  You can read a more detailed breakdown of the response here.


Project Structure

It is quite clear that the Professional PLM Initiative will need to produce all of the internationally-agreed material to define parameters and structure of a professionalised PLM industry.

The aim is to produce this by the end of this year (2019), at which point the PLM industry itself can decide whether and how a new Professional Body for PLM should be set up.

A new project structure has been devised to achieve this, which is explained in more detail on the Deliverables and Timing page.  This makes it very clear to see what will be delivered and when.


Direct Involvement

Demand for Professional PLM has come from PLM practitioners themselves, and the Project Structure is based around providing the new deliverables in a form that PLM practitioners can use as soon as possible.

The Initiative launches with an opening period in which practitioners from every country and every type of organisation can receive the deliverables via the Correspondence Package, writing in with feedback and ideas for improvement; or as Associates, receiving the material while it is still at the draft stage.


Face-to-Face Debate

After releasing the first sets of documents and tools for feedback, we will need to hammer out the details. For this, we are looking to run events at which PLM practitioners can agree the aims and parameters of PLM as a profession.  We would like to make these globally accessible, and ideally there will be matching sessions in Europe, the USA and India.

If you have any views about Workshops, locations, timing, or possible host locations, then that will help us organise in a way that makes it easy to take part.  You can let us know your preferences via

The first Workshop in the series was a Round Table Meeting in Wolfsburg, Germany in January.

The second Workshop was a Professional PLM Workshop in Berlin, Germany in May.

The third event was a Professional PLM Networking Day in Wilmslow, UK on 27 September.

See more details >>>



Steering Group

To guide the Initiative as it develops over the next 15 months, there will be a Steering Group of companies that will provide a central base of support and direction.  This will consist of leading PLM user and supplier organisations that have the foresight to see the value of PLM Professionalism on a global scale.

This is a complex, international project.  If it is to succeed into the long-term future, the Initiative will need some heavyweight support, from leading companies and corporations that are advanced enough to see how the industry should change, and proactive enough to make that change happen.

The Initiative will start by producing an extensive range of new material for PLM practitioners to use. The Steering Group will need to review this before face-to-face workshops are held; and advise on how the workshop results are developed into the full professional toolset.

Furthermore, it is likely that a new PLM Professional Body will need to be formed to manage and represent the PLM Profession into the future. A broadly-based Steering Group will be needed to define how that should be set up.

PLM practitioners from any country and any type of organisation are welcome to join in, without obligation. Full details are on the Steering Group Page.



One Professional World

The Professional PLM Initiative is now live. It will produce all of the documents, specifications and tools that are necessary to define the scope and activity of Professional PLM.

All of this material will be used, reviewed and improved by Correspondents and Associates from around the world, as part of a structured programme that will run through till the end of 2019.  The result will be a single, neutral Body of Knowledge.  The principles, guidelines, standards and methods to produce Professional PLM are universal - they will apply to every professional practitioner, and to every implementation that is run in a professional way.

However, the geographical spread of Correspondents and Associates is likely to be as wide as the support for the Initiative so far - which is in excess of 30 countries.  This means that PLM practitioners from anywhere in the world can take part in the Initiative and access the same single collection of best-practice material - and this, in turn, can create a single coherent professional world for the PLM industry.

Wherever you are, whatever your PLM role, whatever your company, however remote or unappreciated your work may seem; you can bring this new professionalism into your working environment as a Correspondent or Associate. By joining the Steering Group, you can work with other leading organisations to shape the new Professional World for the good of the industry worldwide.



Next Steps


The amount of Initiative material is growing all the time.  You can use the links to the left to read:-

  • the arguments for and against PLM professionalism
  • an outline of PLM roles, and how the various roles and grades might map to each other
  • a breakdown of the geographical and industry-wide endorsements for the LinkedIn posts
  • details of how to join the Steering Group
  • deliverables and timings arising from the Roadmap
  • results and conclusions from the Workshops and Networking Day
  • how to take part in the Professional PLM Initiative and get the new material as it is produced

Browse the material, then let us know your views via .

Copyright 2019. PLM Interest Group


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