Thursday, 4 October 2012

Autodesk PLM 360 and Cheeky Monkey

This week I met with Nina Dar the Managing Director of Cheeky Monkey business solutions, I've known Nina for many years and prior to my role at Autodesk we met at many occasions at events like PLM Innovation. We share a mutual interest in PLM and discussed many best practices for Innovation. So after joining Autodesk I was really excited to show Nina Autodesk PLM 360 and get her team using our product.

Mike: Hi Nina, we've know each other for many years but could you tell my readers about you and Cheeky Monkey?

Nina: I describe myself as a Business Architect; it's a term used in the US for people who have the rare combination of business knowledge, process experience, transformation talents, methodology skills, and a winning personality that helps with communication and business change management.   You have to take the Americanism "winning personality" in the spirit it is meant, as you know Mike, I'm not a wallflower! Really it’s the latest name for those individuals who have had accidental careers not ever really fitting into a conventional business structure but sticking their hands up for every business changing project they can get stuck into, refusing to get side-lined by protocol and delivering dazzling results...that's me and you!.

A loud and proud Mancunian from the blue side of the city, I have spent the last 20 years taking ballsy decisions with some of the biggest (and smallest) companies in this country and all over the world, including some of the toughest places like Nigeria, Ghana and Indonesia.  Always described as a “wild card” I was head-hunted for projects no-one else knew what to do with. My approach was and still is seen as unconventional, but I think it’s just common sense. Few disagree with the fact that I am direct, uncompromising and fearless.

I felt my peer group was dull and uninspiring, so I set up Cheeky Monkey Business Solutions in 2004 to show the world that business change projects can be delivered differently. Cheeky Monkey delivers a human approach to innovation and change in four key areas; transformation, project management, innovation and PLM.  It has a client list that includes Boots, Unilever, Bibby Distribution, John West, PZ Cussons and many smaller businesses that are just doing exciting things.

Mike: So 'PLM made simple' is a solution that I really like, how did it start and what does it offer businesses?

Nina: We were delivering a number of different projects for PZ Cussons; moving one of their manufacturing sites, new build programmes, new processes, ways of working and re-energising brands and they asked us to direct their PLM project.  We hadn't heard about PLM, so we did our research and became very excited by the prospect of doing this, it seemed to be a culmination of everything we did, in our eyes PLM was about joining the dots in throughout a business allowing everyone to work in a shared space.  We could see the benefits immediately.

Sadly, PZC had already purchased a PLM software (a little back to front in our eyes) and we had to make it work.  This became a labour of love!  I became so involved in the concept of PLM, since in my eyes it had been so ill defined by the software providers, and the battle between what business need and what it could be if not for the constraints of the software.  I designed workshops, processes, ways of working and change management structures that would allow the business to see success and started to talk openly about my frustrations at PLM conferences...which I think is where we first met you...kindred spirits!

PLM Made Simple is a concept that cuts through the bull in this space.  It focuses on modern business, people who are really interested in collaboration, open innovation and taking their business to its next level.  Adopting PLM is like a game of snakes and ladders; get it right and you short cut so many things that accelerate your business potential; get it wrong and you go backwards, sadly we have had to rescue too many people who have chosen those snakes. 

Mike: Love the snakes and ladder concept! Sounds great. So you have seen Autodesk PLM 360 and we have discussed MANY topics. What's your first impression?

Nina: Seriously, it does all of that!  It's not often I'm lost for words but as you took me through what you have done with this tool and what it's capable of I was thinking AT LAST, someone has listened to what business needs in this area!!

Mike: Thanks Nina, we sure are excited about Autodesk PLM 360. Do you think that our approach will benefit your existing customer base and can you see Autodesk PLM 360 fitting into your business model?

Nina: You were very kind Mike when you said I was ahead of my time with PLM Made Simple, it would be great to combine that approach with Autodesk PLM 360, I think there is a perfect fit and I sense that the outcome would make the business involved very successful. 

Mike: Well, I brought a  book with me today called 'Transform Your Business' that’s written by you. This book looks really great, can you sign it ! Jokes aside how did this all come about?

Nina: Haha, of course! Alison from Hodder called me on April 1st 2010 and asked me if I'd been signed up yet?  I thought it was one of my mates playing an April Fool joke on me. After that embarrassing mistake they still wanted me to write a book for them!!  They had followed my blog and liked the Cheeky Monkey style, they gave me free reign to write an easy to follow guide to business transformation, all joking aside its something I'm very proud of having a book published is on everyone's bucket list I think. 

Mike: So next steps, how do you intend to use Autodesk PLM 360 in your business and which customers can you see will have an immediate need?

Nina: Some of our clients have really struggled to get the headline benefits from adopting various PLM software solutions and I would love to show them Autodesk PLM 360 and see if it would make a difference to what they are trying to achieve.  As we discussed Mike, I too had been suffering a bit of battle fatigue with PLM and it's not really been the focus of our business recently, but I feel really excited about what I have seen with Autodesk PLM 360 and my mind is already turning ideas over on how we could get more involved again, so watch this space!

Thanks Nina, and lets catch up next month to see how things are progressing

Thanks for reading...Mike

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