Product Life Cycle Management in a Remote Environment—Does Your Solution Measure Up?
Written by: Brent Baker

Read Time: 3 min

Design anywhere, build anywhere, service everywhere: This is what organizations must do to win in the AC (After Covid-19) world.

Let's take a look at the concept of designing anywhere:

Design anywhere

Even before COVID-19, engineering teams were increasingly dispersed. Product complexity required expert and partner collaboration that has often been outside of centralized design workspaces. Even prior to this pandemic, globalization and cost pressures further kept engineering teams spread out.

COVID-19 took this to the extreme where today, not only are engineers almost entirely working from home, but they must do so on quick orders with, at most, only days of advanced notification. As a result, engineering departments are best served with PLM systems that allow them to "design anywhere," including changing locations at a moment's notice.

Here are some supporting considerations leaders should be asking themselves:

How do you support “design anywhere” in normal times?

External suppliers already contribute 60% or more of typical final product design. Project management requires many key PLM processes to focus on design and manufacturing outsourcing as well as change and configuration management.

Having a PLM solution from PTC means a ‘design anywhere, build anywhere’ strategy is enabled through secure collaboration. All objects in the system are tagged and subject to access control, thus determining which users (including external stakeholders) have rights to modify the proper information.

Advanced IP protection capabilities include creation/management of individual replication rules, the ability to define access via agreements, and simplified derivatives. Built into every seat of PLM is also the ability to publish, share, and manage augmented reality experiences. Since you don’t send actual data files, your IP is protected.

How do you ensure continuity of operations in these unprecedented times?

A cloud-hosted PLM makes continuity easiest. It only requires a device with a browser, plus any special access methods beyond web logins (i.e. cards, 2-factor authentication via mobile, etc.) to get your teams up and running. If you don't have your PLM in the cloud yet, an on-prem web-based PLM is workable; keep in mind, it will require central administration of your own servers. Managing web servers on your own may require designating some IT employees as essential for such onsite tasks as well as require advanced planning for scaled remote access to those servers.

If you have client PLM software, in a best case, you've virtualized your clients in advance and can keep the client software out of your employees' homes. However, you risk the bottlenecks and complexities of negotiating performant and secure connections to the virtualized desktops. Virtualization can work, but it's complex and far from optimal since PLM client software was not initially architected for virtualization - something which came years or decades later.

More than likely, you don't virtualize and will need to execute physical workstation moves to your employees' homes. This will require establishing server-tier connection methods with the clients. Unfortunately, this can cause the headaches and security risks of remote desktop support, which is a risk with heterogeneous home networks and desktops for workers who may be unable to move their worksite stations, making do with whatever hardware they can scavenge at their homes.

Quantitatively, our data supports the web vs. client continuity challenges. PTC offers both web and client products in the market, with data feedback loops for utilization. With the widespread “shelter-in-place” orders, PTC has measured significantly better for business continuity with web products than client products (and even greater continuity with fully SaaS products).

For our customers with multiple PLM’s, they’ve experienced severe downtimes from their client-architecture PLM’s failing to connect in their new distributed environments, thus praising the ease of using Windchill during their sudden work-at-home mandates.

So, to summarize, it’s best to go web-based with PLM wherever you can since cloud/SaaS is an additional asset for continuity.

Is your PLM system cloud-ready?

An effective web-based cloud-ready PLM solution removes any client desktop complexities since users should only need browsers on their devices to utilize the software. Not only do casual users work entirely web-based through the browsers on their devices, but expert users do too, for even the most sophisticated PLM tasks.

Additionally, a cloud-ready PLM should have a SaaS offering and operational services with both uptime and security compliance, ensuring PLM users can reliably and securely do their work from their device browsers. Operationally, PTC has hosted Federal Government agencies since 2002 and, for security and compliance, PTC has been FedRAMP Authorized since 2017.

In these tumultuous times, are you confident in your ability to drive product development imperatives? PTC makes it possible. With PTC's Windchill, your PLM system will be cloud-ready, ensuring your teams can design anywhere, securely and with ease, so you can keep your business running.

Tags: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) SaaS
About the Author Brent Baker

H. Brent Baker, Sr., VP, Worldwide Federal Aerospace and Defense (FA&D), Maj Gen (USAF, Retired), functions as the key leader in PTC’s FA&D business in the Americas and globally. In this role, General Baker ensures PTC’s “Out of the Box” software solutions are provided to the customer thereby ensuring immediate and significant value. He establishes the tone and momentum to gain “first to market” solutions in the FA&D organization and spearheads strategic plans and new offerings based on expertise in industry and government. General Baker develops the operational plans that encompasse the FA&D sector for PTC, and establishes partnerships with key leaders in FA&D. He communicates PTC’s commitment to the industry externally to all parties in the “Congress to Warfighter” value chain, and ensures PTC’s sales team is equipped to fully demonstrate the technical solutions to customers and clients.

Prior to this role, General Baker was the Vice Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He directed policy and procedures affecting AFMC aircraft maintenance, munitions, supply, logistics plans, transportation and packaging methods, and logistics data systems. As the staff lead for logistics and life cycle sustainment issues, General Baker planned and coordinated product support and acquisition logistics for fielded and emerging Air Force weapon systems.