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Purpose-Built Platforms Perform Better

The last time we were looking for a new family car, my wife made it clear she wanted to avoid another “soccer mom” minivan. She needed a car that was big enough to haul kids, groceries, and gear around town, and decided it was time to get a cooler, hipper SUV.

While researching different models, we found many similarities with various brands. There were cosmetic or nice-to-have capabilities like moonroofs and advanced audio features. But we discovered a key difference in how SUVs were designed that was critical to passenger experience—the frame.

One SUV frame type was designed as a “body on frame” vehicle and it leveraged a separate body mounted on another frame—typically one designed for trucks. Given the primary purpose for trucks to haul heavy payloads, this type of construction resulted in a stiffer and less comfortable ride. The other SUV frame was a “unibody” with a single integrated body and frame. Unibodies were well integrated and built for a specific type of car or SUV, so they offered a smoother ride and more car-like handling.

In the end, we opted for the unibody model because it was designed for the SUV specifically and provided a better driving experience.

Many products today have been developed for one thing, only to evolve into another. Consider handheld devices, music players, and cell phones in the early to mid 2000s. Some companies tried to build handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) with music player and cell phone capabilities and delivered products that performed great as a PDA, but poorly as a digital music player or cell phone. On the other hand, Apple designed an iPhone from the ground up to address music, phone features, and other capabilities found in PDA devices. Apple created a purpose-built solution and delivered a truly superior customer experience.

Enterprise software vendors today have taken a similar approach to the early PDA companies and have tried to build solutions on platforms that were intended for very different use cases.  When it comes to delivering product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, some vendors offer applications that leverage computer-aided design (CAD) or product data management (PDM) platforms. These solutions fall short because they don’t factor the product development use cases for collaborating beyond the engineering team to quality, operations, and external supply chain partners.

Other enterprise solution vendors have designed PLM solutions on top of enterprise requirements planning (ERP) platforms. The problem with ERP-based solutions is that they are built to facilitate transactional types of use cases surrounding inventory management, production planning, and financials. They were not intended for new product development (NPD) and new product introduction (NPI) process collaboration with internal and external teams throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Still other PLM vendors have tried to build solutions on customer relationship management (CRM) platforms only to experience similar challenges. CRM systems are intended to manage the customer record from prospecting through customer support. They can manage customer records, sales opportunities, and related processes—but they are customer-based platforms, not product-centric platforms. These customer-centric platforms were not designed to manage complex product designs comprised of bill of materials (BOMs), components, manufacturers’ and suppliers’ information, environmental compliance, and engineering change information. So, if you want to manage the customer record, get CRM. If you want to manage the new product development and introduction processes, get a PLM solution that was architected specifically for product development.

Arena PLM is purposefully built to help companies design, produce, and deliver innovative products quickly. Our product realization platform was specifically designed for complex NPD and NPI processes.

After nearly two decades of continual research and improvement, over 1,000 customers around the world have chosen Arena to deliver high-quality products to market fast.

So, when you look for an enterprise PLM solution, take a close look at the platform. Don’t risk your company’s success on repurposed CAD, ERP, or CRM platforms. Choose a solution that was designed from the ground up for product development and realization.

To see how Arena’s purpose-built PLM solution is superior, check out this comparison.