Covid-19, Locked-down & WFH: How you maintain PLM momentum

Andrew Sparrow
8 min readMar 22, 2020

It was all going so well. You were starting to compete in the 4IR, then your innovative new teams went to WFH, to help combat Covid-19.

How can you be effective, when your team is dispersed?

How can they execute on the plan?

How can you maintain your team-working culture?

Today, let’s jump into the fast changing world we live in, suddenly driven by self-isolationism. Yes, we’re all moving for the foreseeable future at least, to working from home.

WFH — there’s a few challenges

But, we’re in a time, no matter what Covid-19 does to our society, when consumer demands are revolving around the need for smarter, more personalized & sustainable products, innovation remains right at the top of our organization’s agenda.

Every moment you defer because the virus distraction takes over, your competition is continuing to design better products because even now it’s “kinda” BAU!

But executing innovative ideas requires creativity. And creativity thrives in a work environment that fits the dynamic needs of modern teams, from hyper-collaboration to heads-down time.

As today’s organizations strive to become more innovative and resilient, they must adapt their spaces and modes of working to promote creative problem-solving across teams.

Corona — things happen

But, that’s best laid plans hey? Now your team is nowhere to be seen, but hopefully working from home, not playing with the dog, nor being distracted by the kids, or fulfillng their latest partner’s to-do list. Yes, hopefully working, albeit isolated, because we’ve been told to, from the world and your team.

Hopefully, they’re accessing files, designs and applications remotely, contained in your clunky on-premise design & innovation solutions. They’re trying to motivate themselves, only to find what they’ve been working on and sent to colleagues has already been ignored by a colleague working on a different version.

None of this has to continue

You can change things virtually overnight.

The Essentials of Product Innovation

Innovation is difficult for well-established companies. By and large, they are better executors than innovators, and most succeed less through game-changing creativity than by optimizing their existing businesses.

Many studies have been done across some of the world’s most innovation organizations in the world. What we found were a set of essential attributes that are present, at every company that’s a high performer in product, process, or business-model innovation.

Since innovation is a complex endeavor, it requires a set of cross-functional practices and processes to structure, organize, and encourage it.

I firmly believe that if companies assimilate and apply these essentials — in their own way, in accordance with their particular context, capabilities, organizational culture, and appetite for risk — they will improve the likelihood that they too can rekindle the lost spark of innovation. In the digital age, the pace of change has gone into hyperspeed, so companies must get these strategic, creative, executional, and organizational factors right to innovate successfully.

Choose & move:

Many organizations run into difficulty less from a scarcity of new ideas, but more from a struggle to determine which ideas to support and scale. This means speed to the MVP, customer testing, adaptation and manufacturing at scale.

There are some fundamentals to be in place that Covid-19 has just made a little harder:

Speed through design development & engineering

Making everything available to everyone who needs it, when they need it, 24x7.

To end up with the innovation initially envisioned, it’s necessary to knock down the walls that stand between a great idea and the end user. Organizations need a manager with great communication skills to take charge of a project and be responsible for the budget, time to market, and key specs — a person who can say yes rather than no.

In addition, the project team needs to be cross-functional in reality, not just theoretically. This means locating its members in a single place and ensuring that they give the project a significant amount of their time to support a culture that puts the innovation project’s success above the success of each function.

Cross-functional collaboration can help ensure end-user involvement throughout the development process. Marketing’s role is to champion the interests of customers as development teams evolve products and to help ensure that the final result is what everyone first envisioned. Other companies, meanwhile, rationalize that consumers often don’t know what they want until they’re shown it. This can be true, but customers can certainly say what they don’t like. And the more quickly and frequently a project team gets feedback, the more quickly it reaches the desired result.

Ready to Manufacture in volume

The often considered safer option of scaling up gradually, can be a death sentence. Resources and capabilities must be coordinated to ensure a new product or service can be delivered quickly at the desired volume and quality. Manufacturing facilities, suppliers, distributors, and others must be prepared to execute a rapid and full roll-out.

Ecosystem collaboration

In the space of only a few years, companies in nearly every sector have conceded that innovation requires external collaborators. Relevant talent and knowledge increasingly crosses company and geographic boundaries. Successful innovation is achieved by accessing the skills and talents of others. In this way, they speed up innovation and uncover new ways to create value for their customers and ecosystem partners.

But, how can you possibly cultivate innovation & execute design during Corona self-isolation?

Just when I/we thought we were well on our way to innovation success, Covid-19 disperses our tightly-knitted team and all but shuts off our highly communicative ecosystem.

I say get-up, wake-up and adapt before you lose momentum

Switch to the Cloud and switch to a collaborative innovation platform now. It can be done almost “overnight” in the relative scheme of things. You re-engage your entire ecosystem and share everything or whatever you want to share in real-time. Meet via video or chat, look at the same design or documents or stats and make changes for everyone to see.

Move at speed

Speed, Agility, Efficiency, Security & Safety

The 3DEXPERIENCE Innovation Platform on Cloud.

Gone are the days of dealing with IT departments for weeks on end to get the infrastructure up and running, as the cloud allows even companies with limited technological skills and resources to now launch and use what were previoulsy complicated tools and applications.

The cloud introduces a disposable mentality toward technology. You can launch new infrastructure in minutes and dump equally as fast. When an obstacle, such as the WFH Lock-down, gets in your way and a new market landscape appears, you can pivot with incredible speed and re-engineer your environment and applications accordingly.

You are no longer trapped with the infrastructure and software that you originally planned and purchased. With the cloud, you can just trash it and start over.


There aren’t many areas of life where you can spend less and get more, however the cloud lets you do just that. You will often hear cloud vendors say that customers only pay for what they use and it is completely true. You only need to pay for the services that are up and running and you can shut down entire environments when you don’t need them.

In addition, there are now many more serverless services available.


A significant amount of the cloud is managed on your behalf like the network, infrastructure, storage, data centers, etc. This reduces the effort on your part and makes everything more secure overall. The parts of the cloud that you are responsible for, such as the data, applications, firewalls, and operating systems, have services embedded that make it easier for you to manage while preventing unauthorized access.


The cloud allows you to build highly available applications so easily that it is incomparable to only a few years. You can build applications that automatically failover to other regions or countries when issues occur, so that end users anywhere in the world are given incredible levels of uptime for the applications that they use.

Best of breed — The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform on Cloud

You can spend many hours, weeks, even months searching the perfect solution for your business on-premise, only to find the world has moved on and now you need something different. I believe wholly in the saying “perfection is the enemy of execution”. It’s so easy to find what’s wrong, rather than relentlessly move ahead and deliver!

Speed is everything in the 4IR and The 3DEXPERIENCE Innovation Platform brings you speed of installation and the comfort that as innovation platforms go, there’s none better.

A single-source of real-time truth, a 100% collaborative work environment with access to everything you need to ideate, design, simulate, manufacture and maintain your products to compete in the 4IR. It’s installed super-fast and allows your team to WFH as a team.

You could take several weeks/months looking for disparate solutions eaching professing individual functionality that’s essential, by which time you’ve missed the “innovation boat”

The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform brings the largest portfolio of applications for innovation on the cloud

Spend only for what you need

Spend less on IT and more on product development

As you advance, you can turn-on new user roles and add individual functionality. You can even roll-back to older solution versions for the rest of your supplier base.

And, if you find along the way your product takes a new path and requires a new supplier, you’re already connected to a one-of-a-kind online marketplace to procure a new service or supplier (The 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace).

How do you make the switch?

I’m here to help, so drop me a line and I’ll be delighted to send over what you need for your own special situation, within a matter of hours

Best wishes


XD Innovation Services

I drive Product Innovation & Optimization projects for companies using cutting-edge tech & software solutions to keep them at the forefront of the customer-centric 4IR

I blog, vlog & podcast passionately about our need to innovate & thrive, about managing the product lifecycle (PLM) & ever improving smarter manufacturing (MES/MOM/Digital Manufacturing). I love working with the solution vendors, the large consultancies & system integrators & helping them promote themselves & best practice, while at the same time helping deliver great projects through my networks

I love & thrive in working with some of the world’s largest companies such as Airbus, Capgemini, Dassault Systemes, Ericsson, JLR, TOTAL, Siemens, Sony, Subsea7 & Unilever, to name a few

I’m a big people-person & have spent my life meeting as many people & cultures as I can. At my last count, I am lucky enough to have visited & done business in over 55 countries

#PLM #Cloud #Cloudplm #3dexperience #enovia #catia #solidworks #DELMIA #MES #MOM #exalead #simulia



Andrew Sparrow

Engineering & Implementation Resources/Solutions in Product Lifecycle & Smart Manufacturing - Shows, Blogs, Vlogs, Podcasts for the Future World