Everything you need to implement ThingWorx Navigate for PLM data

Align on Business Use Case

It is critical to choose the right use case for ThingWorx Navigate. Identify potential use cases to address problems and opportunities related to access to data. Consider whether use cases could be met by an out-of-the-box (OOTB) task or if you need to develop a custom app. Finally, prioritize your use cases and determine the scope of your project.

Before you begin, complete this step:

01. Understand current business processes

To understand how ThingWorx Navigate can benefit your organization, first get to know how people access product information today. Ask workers how they do their work. How do they currently get product data, drawings, or documents?

Get a sense of what’s happening today. Look for insights to draw on later when it’s time to develop use cases. Connect with people in roles like these:

  • Manufacturing: factory supervisor, factory worker, plant manager, production quality manager
  • Procurement: supply chain manager, partner manager, community manager, purchasing agent
  • Service: service technician, warranty claim manager
  • Sales and marketing: sales leader, marketing manager
  • Engineering: safety engineer, release manager, test engineer, requirements manager, system architect, quality manager

02. Understand Windchill pain points and needs

In addition to understanding current work processes, learn what challenges workers face when using Windchill that ThingWorx Navigate may help improve. For some organizations and users, Windchill can be a complex system. Using it may require in-depth training or frequent use in order to be beneficial. Take time to discover any pain points or difficulties your employees have when using Windchill.

Look for instances where:

  • Users spend extra time searching for information
  • Users are unable to find what they need
  • Users have created workarounds such as:
    • Asking engineers to spend time pulling reports
    • Using printouts and paper plots that go out of date
    • Making calls or sending emails that do not capture or control information 

List pain points like frustration, wasted time, inaccurate information, or feeling a lack of control.

In addition to pain points, also document Windchill gaps. For example, where does a lack of real-time, accurate product information impact business results? Ask managers about related challenges and missed opportunities. A service manager may see a gap affecting their top goal of resolving more cases on the first call. A plant manager may talk about downtime.

As you have these conversations, document your findings. Do your best to avoid problem-solving and brainstorming. For now, get familiar with the challenges.

03. Identify potential use cases and estimate value

Review the processes, pain points, and gaps that you identified and consider potential use cases to solve these challenges.

Once you have a list of possible use cases, quantify their potential value. Get input from business managers. For example, if a plant manager estimates that online access to PLM content would reduce rework by 25%, what value might that deliver? If engineers spend 10% of their time pulling reports, what is the value of their time?

Estimate the value of each potential use case to get a sense of the benefit might be to the organization. The numbers may surprise you. Sometimes organizations have a particular use case in mind, but later discover that solving it will not bring as much value as another use case.

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04. Compare use cases against OOTB

Consider whether you can accomplish any of your potential use cases with an OOTB app or if you should develop a custom app.

You can choose an OOTB app for a use case that extends access to PLM data through a user task supported by an available app. An administrator configures the OOTB app and tailors it for the user’s role. An OOTB app requires no development and can be deployed with less cost and time. View the available OOTB apps and functionalities.

If an OOTB app does not meet your use case or requirements, you can build a custom app using ThingWorx. You may choose to develop a custom app if:

  • There is no OOTB app for your potential use cases.
  • You need to source and compile PLM content from Windchill and data from other enterprise systems. 
  • You need to customize an OOTB app in any way to meet your requirements (excluding tailoring). 
  • The expected business value justifies the investment of time and budget.

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05. Estimate costs

For your potential use cases, write down and compare high-level project costs. This will help you prioritize your use cases. Don’t worry about detailed costs yet—you’ll specify them later.

As you estimate expenses, consider things like:

  • An OOTB app requires no development, fewer licenses, and less staff time.
  • A custom app often requires external design and development.
  • The number of new Windchill users for a use case affects license costs.
  • The number and location of new users will determine infrastructure needs and costs.
  • End-user training costs are minimal for OOTB apps. Custom apps may require training for developers and end users.

06. Prioritize use cases

Typically, the project sponsor works with leadership and group managers to prioritize use cases. It’s important to involve end users so the chosen apps will meet their needs and expectations.

We suggest you create a matrix of each use case’s: 

  • Level of value
  • Solution type (OOTB or custom)
  • Level of cost 
  • Time to value
  • Scalability 

Fill in the matrix with the information gathered so far and new insights from leadership, managers, and end users.

Next, review the matrix for use cases that:

  • Are possible to address
  • Present high potential value
  • Can be attained with appropriate effort and cost

Together with leadership and managers, review the matrix, prioritize your list, and select your first use case. Don’t be afraid to tackle big challenges with big returns. On the other hand, you may choose to start with a lower-cost project that fits the available budget and resources and will demonstrate value.

Document your decisions. Share the chosen use case with project stakeholders to get initial buy-in before assembling a team to develop a detailed project plan.

If your organization needs help identifying the right use case, PTC can help with the service "Identify your ThingWorx Navigate Use Case" linked in the services below.

07. Identify project scope

Now that you’ve chosen a use case, define the scope of your project. A well-defined project scope will give stakeholders a shared understanding the objectives and size of the work. The project scope should include:

  • Number and roles of new users
  • Goals and metrics of success
  • Project phases and milestones
  • Deliverables and dates
  • Constraints
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • How much time you expect employees to contribute
  • Other factors, depending on your organization and use case

For many organizations, the scope starts small. Over time, you may learn and iterate and may extend the solution to solve other challenges. For now, make sure the scope is manageable for your use case.

Align on the project scope with leaders before forming the project team and developing the project plan.

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