Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water. How Integrity Process Director Helps Manufacturers Drive Sustainable Value.

‘Throwing the baby out with the bathwater,’ is an expression to describe dismissing or discontinuing an entire idea, process or project even when part of it’s still useful.

The bathwater, usually dirty after the baby is washed, represents the flawed or obsolete parts that are best discarded—much like the parts of an idea or project that can’t be reused. The baby, on the other hand, is the part that retains value and is worth preserving.

In real life and business, it’s wasteful to do otherwise. This is especially true among manufacturing companies that invest heavily in process authoring to streamline the delivery of complex products and systems across multiple engineering disciplines.

Being able to repeat, measure and improve processes is a big advantage in an environment where manufacturers are under constant pressure to incorporate new and better features into their software-driven products and devices. But this can be challenging when intricate, systems engineering and software development processes are recorded in static, more traditional ways — such as thick, printed documents or on complex intranet sites.

Authoring, researching and fine-tuning processes captured in rigid formats like paper or a restricted network is expensive, not to mention, time-consuming. A project manager is more likely to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water,’ than devote too much time and resources to rejiggering a process that can’t be reused in its entirety.

Even when an existing process is relevant to a new project, ramp-up time for the engineers that need to use it is often longer with manual and static systems. Ensuring consistency can be hard, too.

PTC is in the business of helping manufacturers avoid these inefficiencies. Its focus is enabling the implementation of best practices through dynamic systems engineering processes that optimize time-to-market as well as product performance and quality.

Flexible and efficient process authoring, management, deployment and reuse are one important facet of systems engineering best practices. The Integrity Process Director is an example of PTC’s leadership this area.

What makes the PTC approach to process development unique is its emphasis on two things. The first is ease-of-use, both from a process authoring and process execution perspective. This is significant, because where many processing authoring tools fall short is in the area consumption. If you can’t use it, why write it?

The second point of distinction is that of continuous improvement. To this end, Process Director gathers metrics and metadata and provides analytics and reporting tools. So project managers can evaluate how processes are applied and make enhancements over time. This is called “closing the loop,” emphasizing that what can’t be measured can’t be improved.

It’s worth going into some detail on Process Director’s ease-of-use advantages. To a large extent, it’s a function of the solution’s web-based delivery environment, which is built to scale and offers a high-performance database for managing not only processes, but also the context behind them. These can be graphics, videos — even detailed descriptions of who should execute which tasks and under what risks. Fully automatic and animated process diagramming uniquely improve process communication, understanding and buy in.

It’s also a function of the tool’s rich feature set, which enables authors, engineers and project managers to perform many tasks using convenient, drag-and-drop actions and graphic wizards. These simplify a number of complex activities — like configuring processes and tailoring them to specific projects, to name a couple. ‘To Do’ lists, email notifications, active mentoring and progress tracking keep processes on target and make them easy to use by engineers.

Manufacturers can save up to 45% on new project start-up time and 40% on user training and mentoring costs. One PTC customer, a France-based aero engine manufacturer, is finding this to be a huge advantage in an initiative to grow its systems engineering team, because it frees process authors and experienced users to move on to other projects as new hires come up to speed.

By building choice and logic into the discipline of creating, using and managing processes, PTC gives manufacturers the flexibility to sustain the value of ideas and practices that have already proven their worth.

The world of smart connected products moves fast. In this environment, manufacturers can’t afford to ‘throw the baby out with bath water,’ or ‘reinvent the wheel’ every time it initiates a new project.