One aspect of software design which rarely given due attention is design for support. It means that design of support is done is such a way that the Support activity in case of any break down or failure can be easily traceable and resolved in quick time. As the PLM deployment is at enterprise level, the support consideration has to be taken during implementation stage. But I rarely seen that due importance is given to it as it required to be given. There are many reason for it, but one of the reason is the time line and complexity which required to be deal for PLM implementation and support accept only come once the system goes to go live. Here I will discuss some critical consideration required to given while designing PLM solution.
What we mean by design to support? In sort it mean design should be done in such a way that all unexpected cases can be handled appropriately and propagated to relevant system so that proper action can be taken. One question arises how it is different from error handling? There is quite different between generic error handling and exception handling due to environment instability. Example of generic error handling is string size to large short of thing. Exception handling for support usually required corrective action from admin or support person.
Support Consideration during Design:
While Designing the PLM system it is important to list down all exception which will require corrective action from support. Ideally a Design review should be done with Support team before signoff. But it is rarely done in new PLM implementation project as implementation is done by one vendor and support activity is done by other vendor. So coordination and making them in sync is always a challenge. Based on my experience following point should be considering from support perspective while designing the PLM system.
Design for Support Consideration and Approach
1) Define or discover present support strategy of Organization.
2) Find out the tools presently use by Organization of Infrastructure management. For example some Enterprises use standard tool like System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) which also monitor health of application in remote system. Understand the infrastructure management tool so that PLM system can be integrated with it.
3) List all exception for all Business cases where user can required help of support.
4) Categorize each exception based on priority. Here a Business analyst can be consulted.
5) Define appropriate message for each exception.
6) Define and document appropriate corrective action for each exception.
7) Design PLM Implementation to accommodate this Exception cases and required appropriate exception output from PLM system so that it can be handle by Infrastructure management tool.
8) Have an approval from all stake holder mainly from support team who is going to own the support activity.
Design for Support is important aspect for PLM implementation but rarely given much consideration. If due consideration is given during design stage will help to reduce the support resolution time and also can save considerable amount of cost for a organization in long run.