This one of the best productive tool we use in all our development/reporting work with Aras. AML studio has been developed by Eric Domke after he attend the initial training at Aras with Bob Ellis where he realized there was a potential great improvement to work on regarding the Nash interface (the Nash is the out-of-the box AML query interface for Aras Innovator.) Then he started with a first version which was already very nice.
When we started using it, Anthony Ponceot from Minerva brought a slight improvement in order to save queries. Every time you had to save queries we had to copy & paste each query in an external file, so Anthony wanted to keep this in the application.
Now the version 2 is completely different on the interface side. It gives you pretty much the same “query saving” features through tabs. Here is what the interface looks like.
What I think is the best improvement with this new version it’s the fact that it is really replacing the Nash, you don’t need to have a separate application. Nash was good because from any computer you could run the nash interface. AMLStudio 1.2, you had to have it downloaded on your machine in order to run it. Now this AMLStudio v2 can be installed as part of Aras Innovator to be run from any client. It’s been a while since my last video so here I’m back :
I apologize for the delay to publish this post which should have been posted a while ago. It was still waiting in my draft post list. Just before last christmas, I’ve got my colleague Anthony Ponceot who was just pushing really hard to get a nice mobile interface working for Aras Innovator. Some of the work was financed by one of our customer who will benefit of it pretty quickly to create Problem Reports directly from a smartphone or even a tablet getting a chance to take a picture and include it directly in the newly created problem report. So you may have seen this video directly from youtube a while ago but it’s good to see how we can extend the possibilities of client interfaces.
We’ve used jquery mainly because we started this project before the announcement of Aras switching to dojo. We believe that once the Dojo library switch will be release, we will look into the capabilities of dojo to create mobile interfaces. We will also make sure that we are not interfering with Aras R&D as their goal is to provide a UI kit which will allow companies to easily produce user interfaces adapted to each work.
This is a strong question for us. We’ve been working for some years with Aras Innovator and we have some very nice success in Europe, not only for us but mainly our customers increasing their number of users and adding new features almost every month.
Truth would be : Aras can cover for entire PLM
I’ve started working with Aras since 2009, but I’ve been thinking and working on complete product lifecycle management since college. I was all about what could be reused or automated in the product lifecycle. I remember seeing movies of Catia V5 with a demo of an electronic board where it suggest changing capacitor sizes to reduce cost, with live cost update. I’ve worked with CAD, ECAD and also simulation solutions. Never has a specialist but always trying to understand the data management enhancement that could be done. But when I got to discover some existing PLM systems from the large editors. I saw that it was not covering much out of the design phase. And when you are working as a system engineer in a Defense & Security company, your visible PLM solutions are Microsoft Excel, Access, and the requirement management solution Doors from IBM. That’s why I came to work with Aras. It’s because Aras could do it. It could cover many more processes than the existing solution we had.
For more customers it could be named Rapid Application Development Tool
PLM is still a niche market. How many of your friend know about PLM. In Europe with so many languages I guess it doesn’t help PLM awareness. And if we look at most of our customers, they extend their PDM sometimes replaces it, but at least, what is common is that they constantly grow their system. They sometimes look for new solutions from Aras, but most of the time they want to develop their own solution to fit their business. Aras helps them by being a Rapid Application Development Tool. You have processes, versionning, form builder, identity and roles management,… everything to build enterprise application.
To keep higher value customers it should stick to PLM
PLM is known mainly by R&D departments And back to my discussion a while ago about the fact that it would be interesting to start PLM from somewhere else then R&D, a lot of answers where explaining that the reason why it was starting from R&D was because it was easier to justify high IT cost. So if Aras wants to make sure to have a clear financial advantage over time, it will be easier to stick to PLM.
I think by opening up the marketing message in order to explain that Aras can expand to every department of any industry, the community could grow up much faster. It doesn’t push Aras to stop using the PLM term because I really think that it is what they are doing. And they provide the solution that covers the most the product lifecycle management processes. The main issue we have by using the name PLM is that a lot of our customer have already invested in a PDM solution called PLM. And it feels almost like a religion. There can’t be a second PLM for them. So in many cases we are asked to never say that we are implementing a PLM solution. It doesn’t bother us much !
I’ll be running a new webinar this Thursday about FMEAs and this time is the first time we have more than 50 people registered to attend. I’m thankful to all the people who registered and I hope they’ll have a great time. So far, the feedback have been always pretty good. The only recurring complaint I receive is about sending out the recorded video. Now I send the link to video after each webinar, but I still can’t upload it to YouTube (codec issue). With that being said, I wanted to get back quickly on the reasons why I was doing these webinar and I’d like to make more general statements about this kind of live presentation enabling interactions.
it’s “honnest” marketing
That was pretty much my first intention when I started to run some webinar. I just wanted to show the product to a larger audience. In PLM, many times I went to meetings where people where surprised that I would show them the software. Many times I was told that usually the competition would wait 1 or 2 meeting before showing their software. And it’s true that for PLM, lots of solution are sold on answers to the business and not so much on IT technical aspects. So showing the real software to a large audience is key. And sometimes Internet Explorer may crash, sometimes, I’m not so well prepared and I’m using an instance with some developments that I’m doing so there is a pop-up telling that something is wrong. But it is real life and that’s one aspect of the webinar.
Get to see the software
Just like I just mentioned how many PLM editors’ website will actually show the software. It’s complicated to see screenshots or even presentation of the real software. And sales people will tell you that it’s normal because it’s not a “mickey mouse” system and showing it without talking directly to one person may be risky. Here at least there is a presenter talking and explaining. I think we should see the software more often before planning to invest more time evaluating it.
Interact with the presenter
Finally this would mainly be to differentiate with YouTube videos. We have a lot of YouTube videos. They are fine and they last long, but when I see how many questions I can get during one webinar, I believe then, that there might be a lot of unanswered questions when people are watching our YouTube videos (our channel). I’ll announce the next webinar in the next few days. stay tuned.
… and spreadsheets are not helping ! It seems like this sentence comes to my mind pretty much everyday. And we don’t have a 100% valid solution today to provide to our customers as they still use Excel files or Access databases spread into their organisations and not connected to each others. As I alread
just integration won’t solve it all
A few month ago I was writing about integration because I could meet more and more prospects telling me that they have the right interfaces for their users they just miss the connections from one job to another. And coming with a complete PLM solution, I felt like I had no point showing them the solution as they just wanted to invest in integration. But integration is not connecting simple stuffs. Who uses standards in the industry? And Once again I’m not talking about complicated stuff like STEP. I’m just talking about simpler things like requirement management, simple BOMs. How many times have I had someone telling me: “we have a pretty standard spreadsheet for our BOM”. No you don’t! I’ve heard this many times and they were all different. So the phrase “shit in, shit out” is also true for integration. Make sure your data as the right format and is clean and then integrate.
PLM as MDM+BPM+…
I wrote an article in french about this a few year ago. I was explaining why PLM was a sum of other tools like MDM and BPM. And recently I was being interviewed by a company who needed some consulting on how to structure their product management. And one of the person asked me: “what do you think is the difference between PLM and MDM?” It was honestly a strange question, I would understand a question like “do you think PLM can be used as an MDM?” because PLM and MDM are on different levels, PLM is more functionnal and less IT it gathers various tools to enable the automation and overall IT support for the business rules related to product data management during its whole lifecycle. Then yes, PLM could be a single point of truth and take the role of an MDM, but then you would fight with ERP.
Then, I think MDM is n interesting topic and should not be studied without looking at who is using the data and what other solutions are interacting with it. As we can see today with Aras Innovator, we have HR departements asking us if they can manage yearly performance review within Aras. And of course they can, is it related to product? it could be but it’s not the point. The point is that the mix of a convenient technical architecture with a correct business model makes it possible. But don’t forget to think about how you could us standard formats.
These last weeks were pretty crazy in terms of projects to work on. Travelling from sites to sites and visiting various industries. From tractors production (about 40 to 50 units a day) to navigation systems (few thousands a day and highly automated), it is always good to get back to basics and meet the people who are actually consuming the design data to understand what should be enhanced, not so much in terms of CAD data quality (I’m not a CAD vendor) but more in terms of general information management. The last strong argument I have had with one of our customer is about versionning. I’m not sure the discussion is over yet so I’m using the blog to exchange with you, our readers the decision process on versionning strategy.
Who is versionning things?
So, I’m writing this article to make some follow-up on one of the latest article of Oleg about versionning. This is an endless topic. He was mentionning versionning in PDM as a follow-up on my article about the existence of various understanding of what is versionning depending of the kind of work you are doing, or depending on your field of education. I would like to extend the versionning on another axis which is to understand why someone may or may not lead the versionning in a global supply chain. Our customer case is quite special as their are manufacturing devices that are designed from their mother company and sold to car manufacturers. So they get product definitions with a versionning system, and they are due to follow this versionning in order to deliver their product to the final customer.
So they are really concerned about following their supplier’s versionning because the mother company is the one communicating version with the final customer. They already have multiple level in their versionning. With a minor revision and a major revision but these are based on design change, nothing is directly related to manufacturing-related changes. But still, changes happen all the time and I believe that anyone one making changes should use an appropriate versionning system.
Multiple versionning object or one versionning with multiple level?
And this is a question I haven’t 100% answered yet mainly for a lack of time and discussions. My initial idea is to be completely independent from others whatever the relationship you have with your suppliers and customers. You should own your versionning systems. So that would mean allowing multiple versionning objects related to items (like parts) that you want to track. But what would be the difference with a single versionning object but based on multiple levels? This wouldn’t not allow so much independence. As they recently experienced it, the mother company can sometime change almost completely their way of managing versions. So, if you don’t want your system to be affected, multiple objects makes sense.
So that’s the idea for now. I’ll try to define a stronger position with illustrations once we will have decided of a system to use.
Most large companies have already invested in one or more PDM/PLM tools, but we in an increasing degree see that there still are areas of the business which the PDM/PLM or ERP are not supporting optimally.
I already wrote about lean strategies related to PLM solution deployment and also the article about not starting a PLM project from Engineering, and I’m apparently not done on that topic based on this new article. Lots of comments were made on me being mad when willing to start PLM out of Engineering and at the same time very experienced people took the arguments, faced these arguments with the existing projects and realize there were some good points which were making sense and could be applied. Last week-end as I was helping a brother to start building a fence, working with others, we made sure we were pulling production to reduce moments where you wait holding some heavy stuffs and it brought me back to the lean topic.
The manufacturing / Engineering interface issues
This is something we always ear and mainly when there is a new cad designer in the company, it is not that easy to design stuff that the company can produce. Being good at designing product that can be manufactured requires experience, knowledge about manuufacturing and industrialization and also about your own factory’s ressources. So the main cause is usually experience, but what if the systems were made to provide more information and more constraint to the designer? Before designing, should he get to know what’s available in manufacturing or if there is a new machine to purchase, should he bring enough information to provide the right data? This is said to be good practices that designer should have. I would say that these are requirements from manufacturing.
The lean concept is highly based on a pull flow. Most of the arguments I’ve had were about the fact that the main data is created in Engineering so we should start deployment in engineering. Well, what if you should provide a system to the first person who enter the system. The one who will pull the flow, the customer? the marketing? assistance & support?
Impact on deployment
PLM editors have been working a lot on integrating requirement management solutions lately and this might be some of the features to implement first. We have started projects from the Change Management. Has there are existing parts, prototypes and products instead of changing a whole existing system to provide a solution for engineering we may want to start by capturing the daily change request and problem reports. And then you would continue the implementation rolling back the product lifecycle.
Have any experience of project which may have run in this way?
Start a windows server in the Amazon cloud
- First, you need to register on Amazon EC2
- Once registered, you can access the Amazon Web Services. In this tutorial we will only need EC2.
- Once you land on the EC2 Console, click on “Launch Instance” to start the server creation process.
- Select “Classic Wizard” then click”Continue”
- Sleect the following server: “Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SQL Server Express and IIS”. It will be ready for you to install Aras Innovator as it has not only IIS activated but also SQL server and the SQL management software already installed.
- Select a small server. We’ve evaluated the micro server but even though Aras doesn’t need a lot of RAM, 613 is way to low. In terms of cost you need to forecast about 90$/month for a “small” instance if you leave it running 24/7. You’ll see that it is quite easy to turn off without loosing the state of the server.
- On the following screen I suggest to select the option “Prevention against accidental termination”. Mainly if at one point you start managing instances through command lines. I already had an accident with it myself. Deleting an instance against my will.
- The following screen asks you if you want to change the storage unit size. Leave it this way, you’ll be fine for a while.
- The following screen let you add information about your server instance. just click “continue”.
- the following screen allows you to create your “Key Pair” which will let you get the windows administrator password once the instance is launched.
- Once you have entered the name for your key, you click on “Create & Download your key pair” and you should see that your key name+”.pem” should get downloaded. Don’t loose it !
- You need then to create a security group which will define the different port that you need to open on the machine. Be careful before moving to the next screen, there are two rules to create !
- So, the two following rules have to be created. It means that you need to first, select HTTP and click on “Add Rule” and then you do the same thing selecting RDP and clicking on “Add Rule” again.
- HTTP allows the web application to be reached from the anywhere and RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol which allows you to access your server to setup Aras.
- On the following screen you can finally start your instance !
- The instance creation is validated you can then close this window!
Access your windows Server
- Once your instance has been launched, you can see it in your instance list
- Once the launch is finish you should see a red light with the “running” status
- Rright click on the line and select “Get Windows Password”
- in order to get retrieve the windows admin password, you need to take the file you downloaded one the “key pair” creation window.
- You select the file and then your password should be provided on the next window
- You can then start the remote descktop connection interface and fill the computer addess
- … and then your login and password
- You’ll have a certificate to validate (sorry for the french interface on that one!)
- Finally you should get to your almost ready instance to install Aras Innovator !
Check your SQL Server config
When Microsoft SQL Server is installed, in order to avoid problem during the Aras Innovator install, it is necessary to allow the mixed-mode login which will allow Aras to log in without using the Administrator Session. By default it is set up as “windows authentication mode” on these instances. Here are the steps to change it.
- find SQL server management studio in the start menu
- log in with “windows authentication mode”
- right click on the database server (left panel) and select properties. You should get to the next screen. Reach the security menu and make sure you change the Server Authentication to “SQL Server and Windows Authentication mode”
- Once validated, I always suggest to restart the SQL server. You can right click again on the database server and click on “Restart”
“You’re all set !”
You are now ready to to install Aras Innovator on this server with no issue! I’m preparing another tutorial for that.
In case you had an issue during this tutorial
- you can still post a question on this blog
- you can post a question on the Aras forum. The community will be there to help
- or you can also write me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you succeeded you should feel just like this little man!
I recently visited a company after I received an email from their director with the title “PLM project or not?”. This was an interesting email because this person told me that he had read my blog articles for more than two years and at one point he was wondering how he could make his company become more efficient in managing the product lifecycle information. The context was interesting because they are a company who was distributing their mother company’s product until they became capable of developing niche products which is now a large part of their activity and becomes even more important. So in my long answer (it was almost like a blog article) I explained the actual ways of solving PLM problems and how a solution like Aras could either fit or not with their case. But I didn’t have enough data so I came on site to have a better understanding of their processes.
“We already have all the interfaces we need”
Quickly after we had discussed our activities and after visiting the whole enterprise we’ve tried to understand the actual processes and the actual pain or lack of efficiency they could think about. And quickly we realized that the users had some great interfaces already, the correct software for each person. They were not making a too important use of Excel. Most of the information is managed in the ERP or in Lotus databases, Project management software and they were having files managed directly in folders but their organisation could still make it working without too much risk so far. The main pains they could talk about were the many times they had to rewrite data because one software couldn’t transfer it to another. So I did not open my computer to show Aras Innovator. They already downloaded it and installed it a while ago. And here it was clear that I couldn’t tell them to replace all these interfaces that are working so well. So what’s next? What is the role of a PLM-technology consultant in such conditions?
“data integration, data management, enterprise application integration“
This is the business description in wikipedia for the company Talend. And this is exactly what we needed in this situation. I needed a solution to make their software talk to each other. So I think the first activity or the first type of software they could go to would be ETL. And then in a larger centralized view they could extend with other solutions like MDM, and EBS with some data-quality in it. But what is interesting and relating it to my previous article about different marketing strategies and namming in plm is the fact that we don’t see these terms too much in PLM marketing. But when you talk with people criticizing other solutions it usually comes down to these topics. Migration, Integration, sharing standards, etc. These are common terms that should be more frequently addressed when talking about PLM. I think (and this will be written in a coming blog article) PLM consulting will be split in more roles and the ones who want to have the wider impact/view on enterprise PLM should make sure to follow whats going on in the pure data management business. And I’m not talking “Big Data” I ‘m talking about data systems, data quality, data integration for any-size business. I’m already on it !
Seen from the Aras community, I’m must say I’m guilty! I’ve been following a little bit the twitter’s feed of the 3dexperience presentation from Dassault yesterday. Not sure what was the initial reason of this conference so I came back on the website talking about the event and doing a summary of the day. And based and this page and the tweets, I’m like “Wow” !! is anyone talking about PLM here? Or are we just spreading the French arrogance to the world. So, the aim of this article is not to focus on ths conference but to look at the different messages that I can hear from different PLM editors. But before that let’s take a look at some tweets! This is just either funny if you’re not in the PLM business, or disappointing if you are suffering from outdated softwares in PLM.
Joe Pine – Customize a product it is a service, customize a service and it is an experience #3DXForum Great insight
— Jim Brown (@jim_techclarity) november 6, 2012
Pine’s 3D isn’t our typical 3D – he means time, space plus xyz. Thinking beyond our typical world is good! #3DXForum
— Monica Schnitger (@monica_schnitge) november 6, 2012
— Jill Hart (@JillBrainLogic) november 6, 2012
Seriously, this is embarrassing. I don’t think I’ve twitted stuff like that during an ACE event. This has just nothing to do with everyday life in companies. Enough with this, they won, I talked about them!
3D or Enterprise
Visiting PLM companies websites and following tweets and stuff, there are two major trends in term of messaging. Some are more using one than the others and some are doing a mix of both. The two items are 3D and Enterprise. You’ll see a lot about enterprise PLM and it makes sense because as I constantly repeat PLM is about everyone creating and consuming information related to the product in the company and also outside the company with partners. What is interesting is that some companies are still pushing forward on 3D to talk about PLM. It’s true, having a CAD model on the first page of your website is sexy! But as I mentionned in my last article this can’t be a wrapper of PLM!
A portfolio is not a suite
I replied to one tweet yesterday during the Dassault event. Here is the quick exchange :
— Jonathan P Scott (@jonathanpscott) november 6, 2012
— yoann maingon (@yoannmaingon) november 6, 2012
— Jonathan P Scott (@jonathanpscott) november 6, 2012
So as I was curious to see what was one the latest acquisition from our french friends, I visited the website. And surprise this product already covers the whole mining lifecycle http://www.gemcomsoftware.com/products . How come this be added to a suite. It’s growing the portfolio not the suite. It’s all about integration. There is no way this will be integrated with other products. And to extend this comment this is the criticism not only competitors but also system integrators make to these portfolio and I’m not targetting a specific editor. But sometimes you’ve got solutions which really looks like they would fit together but the technology is different and the editors are not investing enough to integrate tools. Then it stays as a portfolio status to me.
I think today the place we need more investment and more editors to dive in is the IT framework. Guaranteeing seamless integration between tools, and coherent suite growth. But this is not sexy and I wonder if most of these tools that many companies are missing may be found in other areas like EBS, MDM, ETL,etc. That’s more where Aras stands for me (personnal opinion). They approached PLM from the IT framework investing in a long term strategy which is paying now. I admit it, this ends as a pro-Aras article, but I really wanted to emphasis on marketing and development strategies gaps.
You’re free to comment on it !
I continue to write about the place of engineering in the scope of PLM. Once again I have never said it had to be out of the PLM scope. I just explained that as a project strategy, If the interfaces between departments were well defined, it could be good to start out of engineering for quick improvements in other departements getting more easily other employees involved in this management enhancement process which is PLM. In this article I’m more talking about a split that needs to be done. We need to consider CAD lifecycle management as a specific inner topic of PLM. I just went through some videos from the competition about PLM. What do we usually see? CAD models. It is really sexy but I do PLM everyday and the core issues that I see are much more about simple-data management than about CAD. It doesn’t mean CAD management is out of the PLM scope. It means that the CAD lifecycle management is a unique competency, like 3D modeler and it doesn’t have to impact the whole PLM software.
Split PLM software and jobs’ specific applications
This is a normal statement but still a lot consultants or vendor are not accepting it for CAD. Or maybe I just feel like it because I’m not a mechanical engineer. I’m an electronic engineer so when I come to PLM conferences sometimes I can just listen about CAD related issues and I’m not getting inside the discussion because I’m far from being an expert on this topic. And to me these discussions are specific to the process of managing the CAD data over time. And it’s not general PLM. There should be clear role descriptions like “CAD lifecycle management consultant” which would clearly define that this person knows about how a cad model will be able to handle changes, variants, … Why should you know how to manage a change in a CAD model. you can’t be the orchestra director and play all the instruments. You need to have enough knowledge to make these instruments fit together. Today there are too many issues about permissions, data-sharing, supply chain PLM distribution, contextual information access,etc. Someone needs to be focus on that while others are on CAD. One technology might not fit all.
PLM completing PDM
Historically, PLM comes from PDM and PDM comes from CAD. Most of our projects at Minerva are completing existing PDM systems. They are called PLM but most of the time we are requested to complete these installations because the effort to extend these PLM to the whole company is too important. As I just said, a reason for that is that you don’t always need the same technology to manage CAD file lifecycle and general product lifecycle related information.
I just did a search about CAD lifecycle management and I didn’t get much corresponding results. There is then a good opportunity for some companies who want to specialize in that field, providing APIs to non-CAD PLM providers. But as a conclusion I would like to see clear statement in PLM conferences about the topic covered whether it’s about CAD lifecycle management or PLM.
Do you think we’re still mixing CAD data lifecycle management and Enterprise PLM?
This is a topic I already covered in this blog I think but a video from Aras just came online. This is about a process we’ve implemented in Aras for one of our customers. He needed to help the purchase department to make purchase orders from the BOM as maintained. This company delivers military systems which they maintain. So In Aras, whenever they assemble a system, they instantiate it and then maintain it every time there is a change applied. On our first implementation of this process we just created the Purchase order Itemtype with the related purchase order items. But then after they quickly tried, they realized it was not the process they wanted to use. They wanted in fact to start from the instantiated BOM, select the part to be replaced, select the Manufacturer’s part that was validated for replacement and run a automated action to add the item to a purchase order. Such purchase order should be either created if there was no purchase order opened for this specific supplier or added to an existing one that wasn’t already processed.
Aras helped us implement it very quickly. So here are the two videos, the first one is the one which was filmed in the Andover’s offices of Aras Corp and the second one is a video I made to present the implemented process.
Let us know if you need any information on this implementation. Have you been through the same process to implement?
PLM is a continuous process and the solution/framework built to support it needs to follow evolutions. This is a simple statement but it sounds already a bit contradictory with the basis of PLM which is developing a system with processes to enhance creativity and support development. Why is it contradictory? Because developing a system to enhance creativity let people think you would have a fixed system which allow creativity, so which would mean you wouldn’t change the system. Well I believe the first statement is the right one. Two factors are key to demonstrate that. First, the technology innovations for the tools supporting the PLM initiative. Then the innovation process can use tools that are evolving, new databases. Do you think the innovation process stay the same when a car manufacturer is including a lot more electronics in its car?
Allow to follow the technology
One interesting stat here would be to know out of 100 CIO, how many have already been involved in software development or infrastructure management? One thing that I find always complicated is to talk with a CIO about the technology I’m showing. I sometimes have to push to show the software, I guess a powerpoint presentation would be enough for some of them. So in this case how do you follow the evolving technology? You need to have in your companies, some people allowed to try new products or evolving products and get feedbacks from them to understand if some product are getting more interesting then others for your organisation.
Follow the changing processes
Evolving processes is not something you allow or not. It is something that you just need to acknowledge because the market, the product evolution requires it. Then you have two ways to deal with it. You either ignore them and your IT system supporting the innovation process will soon become used for far less then it should be or you follow these changes, you record them and you support them by either trying to know if your IT can take it into account or providing a roadmap with potentially other more flexible tools to support them.
How to capitalize these initiatives
The issue is always to get the information of a changing process, the information of a process that is not already taken care of in one of your IT systems, the information of a new technology that would fit more with your requirements. Toward your users, you need to get feedbacks. PLM is a continuous enhancement process, your input is your user feedback. I have been working in companies where I could never get someone proactively telling people “we need you to work efficiently, if you think that any of your work could benefit from automation, data-sharing,… tell us!”. Well maybe it happens for CAD designers. To give you an idea of how you can help your users, I created an example of a form that companies should provide to their users to capture these particular use-cases.
Let me know what you think about that form and more generally about capturing user request, what is your actual process to do so?
Last week with our Minerva team, we organized the Aras Community Event for Northern Europe gathering customers, prospects and other curious around presentation and discussions about Aras Innovator and PLM implementations. This event was hosted by Microsoft facility in Copenhagen as you can see on the map below.
Peter Schroer CEO of Aras corp was here to remind every attendants that Aras is definitely in the group of PLM solutions for large scale implementations. Not having an extra large sales staff doesn’t mean not having a world class product. It means investing more in building the right flexible product for PLM.
Here is the agenda we covered. Feel free to get back to us if you want more details on a specific topic we covered.
Start 10.00 – Tuesday
- 10.00 – 10.10 Welcome (Speaker: Leon Lauritsen)
- Quick welcome and update on Minerva
- 10.15 – 10.35 Introduction to Aras – Capabilities (Speaker: Leon Lauritsen)
- New to Aras. Understand the uniqueness of Aras’ business model and solution
- High-level intro to Aras. Quick demo and short configuration change
- 10.40 – 11.10 Aras Momentum Update (Speaker: Peter Schroer)
- Aras Momentum. Global Aras update. New customer
11.10 – 11.25 Break
- 11.25 – 12.10 Implementation & Experience Workshop
- Table 1: Customer lead discussion
- Table 2: Customer lead discussion
- Table 3: Medical Device Industry solution lead by Minerva
- Table 4: Q&A with Peter Schroer
- 12.15 – 12.55 Why traditional PLM isn’t the solution for everything (Speaker: Peter Schroer)
- Extending/Complementing TeamCenter/Windchill/Enovia
- What are the global Experiences? Examples of clients.
13.00 – 13.45 Lunch
- 13.45 – 14.15 Seamless integration between Engineering and Manufacturing (Speaker Erwin van Zomeren)
- Business challenges between Engineering and Manufacturing and how to improve them
- 14.15 – 14.45 How to support seamless integration between Engineering and Manufacturing with Aras
- Capabilities of Aras (Speaker: Antoine Van Riel)
- 14.50 – 15.20 Implementation & Experience Workshop
- Table 1: Customer lead discussion
- Table 2: Minerva EHT solution, what to put on the roadmap. Minerva Lead Discussion
- Table 3: Q&A with Peter Schroer
- 15.25 – 15.45 Break
- 15.45 – 16.30 Platform design (Speaker Erwin van Zomeren)
- Understanding the transition from order engineering to platform design, challenges and benefits.
- Hotel Check in..
- Evening entertainment start 18.00 – 22.00
Wednesday start 09.00
- 09.00 – 09.20 The Digital Native and Aras ? (Speaker Andreas Müller)
- (Projects, Forums, Wikis)
- 09.25 . 09.45 NEW Aras Component Engineering capabilities (Speaker Thomas Skogen)
- Aras CE will add data and analytics to Aras PLM to simplify the management of standard electronic and mechanical components. Aras Corporation is partnering with IHS (http://www.ihs.com/) to develop a connected‐cloud integration between the Aras PLM application suite and the cloud‐based products and services offered by IHS.
- 09.50 – 10.30 Implementation & Experience Workshop
- Table 1: Customer lead discussion
- Table 2: Customer lead discussion
- Table 3: Q&A with Peter Schroer
- 10.30 – 10.45 Break
- 10.45 – 11.30 Aras Mechatronics Multi-CAD & Visual Collaboration Strategy (Speaker Pauli Vadstrup)
- Aras strategy for Multi discipline CAD environment.
- 11.30 – 12.15 Example of CAD integration. SolidWorks (Softech)
- Capabilities of Softech’s SolidWorks integration
- 12.15 – 13.15 Lunch
- 13.15 – 13.45 NEW Aras module to support Requirement Management (Speaker: Thomas Skogen)
- Capabilities of the new Requirements Management Module
- 13.45 – 14.10 Mobile with Aras (Speaker Yoann Maingon)
- How to support Ipad and other special purpose Clients
- 14.15 – 14.45 New Neutral Aras Browser Client (Speaker Yoann Maingon)
- Status update, Dojo dependencies on client side customizing (Minerva)
- 14.45 – 15.00 Break
- 15.00 – 15.30 Aras Vision & Roadmap (Speaker Peter Schroer)
- 15.30 – 15.45 Closing the conference (Speaker Leon Lauritsen)
Questions I should have, but never received from prospects… #2 : How much time does it take to change this form?
Second writing of our series of article about questions I feel like I should received more often from prospects. For the first article, I talked about the lack of questions about how PLM solutions can manage evolution this time it brings me back to a presentation I made for a prospect in Electronic and High-tech industry. I was presenting Aras Innovator and answering questions. As usual I made not only a presentation of the business features but also the flexibility of the solution as it is by far an advantage of this solution compared to older technologies from the competition. Once again, as I often mention in other articles, flexibility is key because most of the time when you get the features sold by a vendor you will change it, adapting it to your company’s specific needs. So I was at this customer site, and there were just asking me to navigate in the software. But at one point after they saw some of the feature they wanted to see I took more control over the presentation and told them how important it was that the PLM solution should be flexible. So I started to modify some forms to let them feel how they could not only make it quickly but I was also demonstrating that some customizing could be done live during meetings.
In order to illustrate this I made a quick video this week about how you enrich the out-of-the-box part numbering feature in Aras with just one line of coding. Usually, no vendor will code live during a presentation but maybe that’s something that you should ask them. “Please when you come, bring some tech people, we’d like to evaluate for real how fast it will take to implement our specifications.” That’s what you should ask. Until then, enjoy the Video !
This article is the continuation of the my previous article about lean implementation methodology for PLM. It is ok to present methodolgies that are said to be best for implementing a PLM strategy. It is better to provide examples and solutions on how to start these implementations. When I was reading about lean startup the good thing was that the illustration of the MVP, Minimum Viable Product was quickly provided and it allowed me to understand through this examples what was key for users to have in order to be able to get feedbacks to, if necessary, pivot as soon as possible. It has to have not too much and not too few features, you can be wrong about the way you think it will evolve and about the product you start with, you shouldn’t be too wrong about the amount of things provided at first.
Size of MVP depends on the departement you are developping the system for
Recently, my other article about why we shouldn’t start a PLM implementation from the engineering has been the root of many comments and discussions on linkedin but also in the meetings I had after that. One of the important point was to get some users live on the system as soon as possible to enhance the dynamic of the PLM implementation project. Most functionnal PLM consultant independant from software editors use to say that the important thing is the PLM initiative itself and not the software. For them what is important is to make people aware that they are all bringing some value to the product. The sooner you get people live on the system the better your PLM initiative will be.
A matter of Budget triggered by the software implementation
Many times in the comments I received on linkedin and other networks were related to justifying a cost of implementation. I had many times the comment that it was easier to have such budget validated when it was impacting R&D than other departements. We know most of the cost is held by the software implementation and not to pure consulting. Then you realize that with these arguments, the way the implementation will be made will be triggered by the software and that is not what you are looking for. Years ago there was the wave of the “toolbox” system which still existed then but were banned from marketing. Toolbox system could be adapted to any departments the same way you use Microsoft Access, adding workflows, … Problem is, the software was already too expensive. So wen selecting a solution it would be right to look at flexibility of the system and flexibility on pricing.
- Does your MVPLMS has to start with engineering? still a question for which I’m not sure about the answer.
- What is the MVPLMS scope?
This Tuesday I attended my first FailCon at Microsoft in Paris. As it says in its presentation “FailCon is a one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success”. You won’t see much videos on the web about it as it is a place where companies will share their failure and its obviously not always easy for companies to associate their brand with the word “failure”. You’ll get more information on their website. The concept of talking about failure is interesting. It tells to people, it’s ok to meet failure as long as you learn from your failures and improve then. These conference also aims to create awareness about each failure and help entrepreneurs to not reproduce these.
PLM is definitely a world with a lot of failure
There’s no more secret about it, a lot of projects are out of budget. They are far from initial expectations and they usually cover a lot less than the initial “dream scope”. We know on a technology level it is quite complicated to do a very adaptive system that is flexible with ease to fullfil customers evolutive requirements. And there is a lot also to criticize on a methodology level for integrators.
Have been in PLM conferences? who is talking about failure?
I haven’t been in many PLM conferences out of Aras and the french association PLMLab. But I’ve red a lot of report on others and followed twitter feeds during conferences. So I’m potentially wrong on that statement and If so please correct me but it feels like PLM conferences are like Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes there are some criticism but it’s never to strong on editors or integrators and we don’t see have more investigation on the root cause of the project’s failures. During the last Aras Internation ACE Event, the first day was for tech people and people implementing the solution on customer site and we were able to talk about failures. I would recommand that we have a very specific time slot next year at ACE2012 were we talk about project failures during that period. Let’s be honest, as good as software can be, as long as you have human interactions there are failure. And so far I ‘ve never been a PLM solution installed itself.
What would be the ideal setup?
Out of an editor’s tech meeting, how could be run such conference? I would like editors to explain the failure they’ve made in the past on terms of techonology choices and how they pivoted. Same thing for integrators there should be some presentation about failures and recoveries. And also one from customers explaining why they potentially under estimated the cost and the complexity of a PLM solution implementation. Do you think such conference could exist?
It doesn’t take much time for our customer to get back to us after a few days on a live system (yes it is allowed, and I would say, recommended to start on production with your PLM solution without reporting built yet). So our first answer is “yes, tell us what you’re looking for and please check with your colleagues that you need the same views”. It’s pretty usual to have to wait quite a while after asking this to get a clear view. Most of the time it’s us going back to them for this topic. Main reason is that everybody want different views. And this is not just for PLM this is true for a lot of domains. That’s why dashboard technologies are very trendy. This lets the users build their own reports.
Aras Innovator has this great thing for us, it is that they, so far, only run their solution with Microsoft SQL server. So when talking about reporting we can benefit from Microsoft reporting tools. And as we get more companies in production we are working on delivering these features for them. We train ourselves on these technologies and we advise them on how to configure these. Here are the few videos that inspired our customers to go in that direction.
Finally if you have much more time, here is a tech day video about both products:
So this is just an update on what we are working in terms of dashboard and we would be happy to learn about your experiences also around BI and Microsoft reporting solutions. We will definitely share are experiences as soon as we have something to make a video out of.How did it go for you?
This has been a frustration for a while now for me in PLM projects implementation. Mainly during the first phase or even before selling the project. We spend a lot of time on specifying and re-specifying engineering processes regarding product management made of complex datasets while other department can have much simpler processes which would definitely benefit from a good PLM project. Having some people helping them to work in a better way to collaborate on product information. And more generally, having people to tell them what is PLM.
More enthusiast about PLM but less aware about its existence
When I talk about PLM in a company, these departments are the more enthousiast about it. They know the spreadsheet exchange problems with customers, the poor naming conventions created for the internal network… They know something needs to be done, but most of the solution advertising they get comes from document management systems, storage systems, collaboration systems. Most of these solutions are sold to fix an issue with a small scope (exchanging documents, saving versions, …). To get all your issues fixed you need these solution to be very well integrated. The projects should start with a larger view but still fixing issues by small batches as presented in our lean implementation process.
Getting live faster makes PLM projects more interactive = Better user acceptance
This is a fact about these departments. Start you implementation’s phase 1 out of engineering and you’ll get live much faster. These people need integrated systems and their processes are more stable then in engineering. We know that in engineering you can have very different software acceptance from one to another. You need then to have people in the company that are already supporting the project. The risk is of course to not take into account the software capabilities to support Engineer’s processes. And that’s where it is good to have IT people coming from Engineering to select the solution.
So if you are a PLM sponsor in your company, get people out of engineering involved and aware about PLM. You’ll create a real enthusiasm.