One of the greatest barriers to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) adoption has been complexity. Not just complexity in how to best leverage the software for real business advantage, but also in how to address the challenging IT support aspects related to the platform, including how to effectively deploy and configure the software to work within a specific technology infrastructure.
While large enterprises have had their fair share of well-publicized bouts trying to tame the PLM beast, small and mid-sized companies (SMBs) have mostly shied away, reluctant to take on a technology many larger companies couldn’t swallow. At the same time, however, smaller manufacturers face a lot of the same product development and engineering challenges as their bigger brethren. Time-to-market pressures, increasingly dispersed and sometimes global engineering teams, and the need for more cost-effective and repeatable design processes have many SMBs hungry for a solution that can help them better coordinate product development strategies, optimize design cycles, and institute better planning.
Enter PTC, the latest of the large PLM vendors to take a stab at what they call “rightsizing” PLM for the SMB market. PTC has taken the core product data management capabilities of its Windchill enterprise PLM platform and packaged it up as PTC Windchill PDM Essentials, specifically tuned to the needs of SMBs.
The focus of the new release is to simplify the installation process and user interface so there are less choices and companies can get started right away, according to Michael Distler, Windchill product marketing director at PTC. “With very little effort, companies can get the system up and running,” he explains. “It’s really intended for smaller companies that may not have dedicated IT people.”
Specifically, the software is well positioned to meet the needs of Creo customers who might traditionally have used a shared folder or FTP server to allow a handful of designers to share CAD models and design data, but that approach is running out of steam as the company grows, he says.
Windchill PDM Essentials delivers a scaled-down version of PDMLink, Windchill’s primary data management capability, allowing smaller firms to manage CAD data and product development-related documents (potentially Word or Excel files). Windchill’s sophisticated Web-based collaboration features, product analytics, quality capabilities, and sophisticated requirements management functionally are not part of this SMB-tuned release, Distler says.
“One thing we continually heard from our partners is that smaller customers want to start small with CAD management and as they get bigger and want more capabilities, they can grow from there,” he explains. Specifically, if companies get to a place where they want the broader set of Windchill functionality, they can upgrade their license without having to deal with any database or technology changes.
Windchill PDM Essentials focuses on simplifying the installation and deployment process. Smaller companies have complained about the multiple steps and myriad components specific to a Windchill installation and configuration process, and this new version packages everything into one, so-called “easy-to-install” package, including a Microsoft SQL Server database. There are simple installation wizards to guide users through the set up, Distler says, and the user interface has been tweaked to be more streamlined and accessible and to give users less choices.
The program, which is only available through PTC’s channel partners, is priced at under $2,000 for a floating license. To learn more about Windchill PDM Essentials, check out this video.