The way enterprise PLM software is licensed to businesses is wrong, end of story. Pay now. Pay later. Pay extra. Pay more. Traditional PLM licensing schemes are complicated, confusing, expensive, and broken… and their days are numbered.

To understand this requires experiencing it first-hand. Get a quote from your friendly, knowledgeable PLM salesman at any of the major PLM system providers (my understanding is that the best example of this will come if you contact PTC about Windchill).

User-seat licenses are the first thing you’ll want to know the cost for, however, as you get into the quoting process you will soon learn that each User license has accompanying “module” access. This is a fancy way of magically justifying a higher and higher cost. From there you learn that server licenses are needed, along with a lot of other ancillary things like developer licenses and other mysterious licensing costs. Next thing you get is a multi-million dollar quote where they do you a favor by providing a “discount”.

Then, if your PLM software deployment gains wide-spread adoption (a goal every company shoots for), you will need to purchase more licenses. Effectively, the PLM project becomes a victim of its own success. PLM license expenses can be huge up front, but a broad roll-out is where the costs skyrocket.

Many a PLM implementation has been stuck as an “engineering only” system or worse yet as a “limited few designers-only” system because it is economically unfeasible to spend the small fortune required to provide everyone that needs access with a license. This was the case before the recession hit.

Now, any executive or manager that is proposing to spend on PLM licenses for everyone is probably acting irresponsibly. Corporate profitability is at stake and taking on this type of expense would have a direct impact on the bottom line and shareholder value.

If it is proposed that PLM licenses be purchased for ‘only those that need them’, then the company’s competitive position is being sacrificed. Right now is when collaboration is needed most. Sharing innovative ideas is essential to the new products that will bring the company through the recession stronger.

Yesterday’s safe answers are today’s death nail. That’s why the days of expensive enterprise PLM software’s User-Seat License schemes are over. Buyer beware, you may be jeopardizing your company’s future (and your own career) if you purchase PLM licenses from one of the major providers.

So, if User-seat PLM licensing is broken and wrong for the enterprise, then what’s the answer? What’s the alternative? No user licenses, end of story.

What’s your take? Is unlimited access the way of the future? Or can big-PLM keep extorting $$$ for every man, woman, and child on the planet?