(Eng) Thinking “out of the box” with “out of the box” features

Posted on October 21, 2011

OOTBThis is an article following a discussion I had a while ago with Graham McCall from AESSIS (yes, one of our competitor/friend in the UK) when we were working on a common Aras Pilot implementation in France. When I was working at Accenture some years ago, I went to this Worldwide training close to Chicago called “Core Analyst School” which you need to go to during your first year. My colleagues, during exercices described me as an “out of the box” thinker. Then, when I worked with Graham on this Aras Innovator pilot implementation we were trying to work as much  as we could with “out of the box” features to avoid customizing (always scares customers when they are not aware of the Aras Unlimited subscription covering Upgrades). So I found it funny that in English you could have a same expression having two real opposite meaning in different context like this. And with my recent experiences on customer sites and working in the particular business environment made by the Aras open model in PLM I wanted to talk about how you can benefit really quickly from a Innovator PLM solution by thinking out of the box about PLM and using the out of the box features of Aras to fulfill IT needs.

Thinking out of the box about PLM

This is one of the main reason I came into PLM. Even if you can read in many articles that “PLM is a company-wise strategy”, PLM manages”the whole product lifecycle related information from marketing to support and recycling”, in real life (meaning “on customer’s sites”) PLM is still mainly focused on engineering. Think about all the information that are related to the product, maybe not directly, but for example skills management throught the company will be somehow related to the product. In order to detect these process and informations I suggest you list all the Ms Excel files and Ms Access databases you use in the enterprise and think about how these informations are related to the product or how they need to be managed in a collaborative way.

From this statement, you should see that it is almost impossible to get one single manager for the whole company leading the initiative of thinking how you should manage these informations with a new IT systems adding collaboration and process status follow-up features. Does that mean it is not possible to work on it? Of course not. But you need a tool which could handle that. And so far, Ms Excel and Ms Access where the one you found right to do the job.

Using Out of the box features from Aras Innovator

Now that you’ve tought about all the process in the extended enterprise and you have some first Ms Excel files, Ms Access databases and process to replace and manage, you have Aras Innovator just a few click away. And don’t think about customizing yet. You don’t need to be a PLM expert to understand what Aras Innovator can be as a start. Out of the box, it’s a toolbox (some people will hate the fact that I use this naming, as this word became banned of any PLM marketing these last years) providing Item management features with Lifecycles and workflows features. So think about all your files that are in fact managing Items. Start managing them with Aras. Until then you may have bought maybe one training session from an Aras partner, you have not signed any other contract and your data can be exported freely as XML. You can have 1, 2, 10 Aras databases for a start. Small projects won’t need much infrastructures (it works on a simple PC) and it will still be more reliable than your distributed Ms Excel files on the network.

Use the Aras forum, look for simple question like:

  • how much time it takes to install Aras Innovator?
  • does it crash sometimes?

Answers should be some like 30 minutes and no (IE crashes not Aras :-)).

Then you can look into the PLM datamodel, but that may be more directly product management related… you’ve got time to get there.

Enjoy testing Aras Innovator !

Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon

Yoann Maingon is an Entrepreneur and a PLM enthousiast. He is our main blogger at Minerva as he has been publishing articles about General PLM concepts and Aras Innovator for more than three years.

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