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How Integration Adapters Accelerate PLM Implementations & Product Launches

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Modern product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are designed to simplify integration with today’s most popular enterprise resource planning (ERP), electronic design automation (EDA), and computer-aided design (CAD) applications. To overcome integration challenges, many PLM companies offer a fixed integration package for ERP systems. When data is released from a PLM system into an ERP system, an ERP adapter is needed to read and process the data.

We sat down in our fireside chat with systems architect, Scott Moisan, to get some of his thoughts on adapters and how they help with PLM integrations into ERP systems.

Arena: Do you have standard best practices for implementation and integrations?

Moisan: We have best practices designed into our template workspaces that we use to start every PLM implementation. Within the template workspace is an implementation project plan that we use for each customer implementation. And it’s very flexible so that we can tweak our project plans to each customer’s specific needs. Our Arena PLM implementation project plans have phases for all modules the customer may deploy including Arena Quality and Projects, along with integrations to MCAD, ECAD, and ERP systems.

Arena: What are some common implementation challenges?

Moisan: Sometimes there will be pauses to implementations because customers have a limited number of resources to help implement the solution. These resources are also involved in product releases and can get pulled off into a couple of different directions, which may put a halt to the project for a couple of weeks, and then you have to pick it back up. Restarting the project could mean refreshing everyone’s minds on topics previously discussed but not yet completed.

Arena: Without these tools, such as adapters, integrations into your ERP system could take additional months to get all the kinks worked out, correct?

Moisan: Adapters help streamline our integrations. Because of that, our PLM implementations for a typical install could be measured in multiple days while even the more complicated projects are much faster than the alternatives being knocked out in a month or two.

Arena: Are there adapters for each variation of ERP system?

Moisan: Yes. ERP adapters are specific to each ERP solution because they are built using that specific ERP’s API/tool-kit. So if you have Oracle Manufacturing ERP or SAP Business ByDesign or NetSuite, you’re going to use an ERP adapter that is unique to that ERP system, therefore, speeding the overall integration along.

Arena: How much faster is Arena PLM to implement compared to an on-premise PLM solution?

Moisan: Arena PLM tends to be a much faster implementation than you would have with an on-premise PLM solution because of the underlying infrastructure you must first set up for in an on-premise PLM environment. You have to determine in advance how many users you plan to support, then design the infrastructure needed. Now (depending on the solution) you may have to have one or multiple servers per tier of the on-premise application (Application Server, Database Server, Firewall appliances, View Servers, etc.). Additionally, if you want to have Training or Test servers this will further increase the number of servers required. Once you’ve determined how many servers you need you to have to order server hardware, receive the servers, install your servers, install the OS or apply OS patches to your servers, then finally install the PLM software and any software patches, upgrades, and updates. For on-premises solutions, you should also consider investing in a good backup and disaster/recovery plan. With this approach — it’s all on you. With Arena’s cloud PLM —that’s all on us.

Arena: There is usually a big dollar amount that goes along with setting up any on-premise solutions because you have to buy hardware as well as invest in a lot of internal IT maintenance resources which, oh, by the way, are oftentimes on-going.

Moisan: Correct. If a company has outsourced IT resources the setup process could take a long time and be very expensive. Usually, on-premise systems like this have to go through many layers of management approval and budgetary reviews because they are so costly. With Arena’s multi-tenant cloud-based SaaS solution this is all done for the user by Arena. This all gets done in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned scenario so he’s free to focus on his core product.

Moisan has shared a lot of best practice advice with us so be sure to check out our other blog posts with him. And to learn more about ERP adapters, click here.