Hitting the Green: DSPD Product Lifecycle Management

Matt Erickson, Senior Director, PLM, R&D and eCommerce, Callaway Golf Company
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The founder of Callaway Golf, the late Ely Callaway, was an entrepreneur and visionary who adhered to a profound business mission: Deliver Demonstrably Superior, Pleasingly Different (DSPD) products and services. This mantra is still pervasive throughout the company today. From concept creation all the way to the sales floor, striving to deliver best-in-class golf equipment is what continues to drive Callaway to new heights. The same is true of our pursuit of an integrated digital factory.

The consumer product industry, especially the sporting goods sector, is under constant market pressure to deliver the next big breakthrough product. During the last couple of years, our Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) efforts have undergone a considerable amount of transition to keep pace with increasingly shorter design cycles. Though we are still in the midst of change, there are four major areas that have driven significant improvements that will help us achieve our goal of DSPD PLM.

The first area involved altering how PLM efforts are led. By rallying stakeholders to the cause from the company’s top echelons. A steering committee consisting of senior executives from R&D, Operations, Finance and Information Technology was formed that PLM leadership answers to and from which resources can be marshaled.

  ​Agile development techniques have improved our response time to fix bugs and deploy new features to the user base  

Second, a team directed by a full-time PLM architect was assembled to lead agile development efforts, train the user base and respond to critical needs. Previously, PLM was managed on a part-time basis by staff with other, competing responsibilities. Although the new PLM group reports into the Information Technology organization, this team is located adjacent to the R&D and Operations teams responsible for developing new products and bringing them to market.

Third, we integrated the myriad data silos that existed throughout numerous parts of the company. A combination of SharePoint sites, homegrown applications and commercial software systems formed a complex web into which mission critical data was stored and not so easily retrieved. PLM is more than a software system into which bytes are stored. It involves people and processes and directly affects how employees perform day-to-day activities, retrieve information and make informed decisions. Traditionally, PLM and Product Data Management (PDM) were synonymous within the company because PLM revolved mostly around CAD file storage and revision control. As we move forward toward our DSPD goal, we are on track to unify the following critical business processes into one PLM domain: product creation, product development, BOM creation, change management, spec creation and connectivity to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. This unified system will inevitably lead to new breakthroughs in getting innovative products to market faster, at ultimately lower costs.

Fourth, my team is not averse to adopting new technologies or methods. We are extremely adept at agile software development techniques. We constantly seek out issues or new feature requests throughout the user base and we can quickly release new code that has passed quality assurance tests into production. We have also successfully developed new processes using virtual reality (VR) systems that allow rapid vetting of new club head designs without the need of a rapid prototype print. We also applied that same VR architecture and integrated it into an immersive marketing experience, allowing consumers to enter a holographic world to learn about our latest products.

Our pursuit of innovation and new thinking has generated promising results. Consolidating data repositories has led to improved efficiencies in how data is utilized to make decisions. Streamlining automated workflows has minimized communication errors by reducing the number of steps to get a part through production. Agile development techniques have improved our response time to fix bugs and deploy new features to the user base. Those are all clear signs we are well on our way to DSPD PLM.

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