Customer Success Manager Kraig Clark is not your average Arena Solutions employee. He spent the first fifteen years of his career leading product innovation and new product introduction (NPI) efforts for a number of companies, across a variety of industries. He helped launch hundreds of products from Motorola cellphones to OtterBox phone cases. He also implemented systems, frameworks and processes to improve time to market and product quality.
Regardless of industry or company size, Clark quickly recognized the product development processes and pain points were very similar across these organizations. “My observation in working within different company environments is that everyone thinks they are unique, but the reality is they all do things pretty much the same way,” says Clark. “They all use stage gates for project management. They all use change control. They all take approximately eighteen months to develop a completely new product. They all have quality issues. They all need reporting tools to see what’s happening within their business.
Arena PLM is built to support all of those things because it’s industry agnostic. I believe the first best practice any company should focus on is their own pain points.”
In many cases, such as his position at OtterBox, he was responsible for vetting the best product lifecycle management (PLM) system to maximize the organization’s business success.
“I was responsible for bringing PLM into organizations,” said Clark. “I was asked to vet a number of PLM systems and I chose Arena PLM every single time because it was best suited to our ‘unique’ pains. In all cases, we needed a system that ‘just worked,’ that could provide value in weeks or months, not years. We wanted 90% of the value with 10% of the painful implementation effort. And we wanted a system that could scale with our explosive growth.”
In this five-part blog post series, Clark shares the best practices he’s accumulated over the years with the first being: assess your own pain points clearly and thoroughly.
Arena: When you join a company, how were they achieving their PLM goals?
Clark: I was given control over an on-premise PLM system that we had made a sizable investment in. Six months after the purchase, they weren’t seeing any value and were really stuck and frustrated. That’s when they hired me into their product organization and gave me responsibility for the system.
Arena: How did things go down the wrong path with the purchase of the on-premise solution in the first place?
Clark: One company in particular needed a system to scale but didn’t know exactly what that system needed to do. We had some pains we needed to solve for, but we were seeing very little progress with our on-premise PLM solution. We simply weren’t mature enough to know exactly how the system would need to work for us.
My first three months I oversaw a team of 15 consultants that were writing code and trying to build up the on-premise PLM platform to a usable state. In my estimation it was going to take years and cost millions of dollars to get where we needed to be now. We didn’t have the time or the money for that.
Arena: So how did you make the case that your company needed a cloud-based PLM solution?
Clark: I did my homework. I dug in to learn everything I could about the system we owned, Arena PLM, and other PLM systems as well. I knew what was important to us, so I evaluated every system through the same lens. No matter how I sliced it, Arena was the best fit for where we were, and where we were going, so I made a strong push to our executive team to make the change.
I said, I know we spent a lot of money on this system, and I know it’s great on paper and can theoretically do anything we’ll ever want to do, but we don’t have the resources to get where we need to be fast enough. We need a PLM solution built on industry best practices and that we can configure and evolve ourselves, with a very small team.
Arena: So your executive team gave you the approval to scrap your prior PLM implementation and put the budget in place to go out and get Arena PLM. How many people did it take to do the Arena PLM implementation?
Clark: Myself and two other people did our own implementation. We had little experience with implementing software, but we did have experience with business processes, product development and engineering. We knew what these tools should do, we knew our problems and pains, and we were able to deploy Arena PLM to the first group of our users within six weeks.
Arena: Maybe the first PLM best practice any company can embrace is to really understand their pain points and the impact those challenges have to the business, correct?
Clark: Correct. For some companies their main pain is not getting products to market fast enough. Other pains might be how information is transitioned (or not) from engineering and design teams downstream to operation and manufacturing teams; and another pain might be revolving around approval or communicating changes as well. Once you know what pains you are solving for, you can determine your priorities for deploying the system.
To learn more about the benefits of cloud PLM over on-premise PLM, click here.