Introduction to Razorleaf, Arena’s Custom Integration Partner
Full transcript below:
Hello, and welcome to our latest Arena virtual event: Introducing Arena Events Engine, the latest APIs, and custom integration partner, Razorleaf. I am Ann McGuire, Director of Product Marketing at Arena. I have a few items to review before we begin. For questions, please use the Ask a Question feature. At the end of the presentation, we’ll address as many questions as we can, and you can upvote submitted questions to increase its priority.
Keep in mind that the questions are anonymous, so if yours goes unanswered today you can follow up with Arena through our support … through the support ways you usually do, and with Razorleaf using the external link provided in this event. Please respond to our two polls so we can better tailor our live presentation to you today. Both polls and Q&A are on the right side of your screen. We will have a raffle after questions today, so please stay tuned until the end to find out the prizes and who won.
And please note that a recording of this event will be available in the app. If someone else in your organization is interested in integrating Arena, they can sign up on the platform and watch it. That finishes up our housekeeping items. So, like I said before, before we introduce our speakers, just to get a feel for who’s here today we had these two questions. What systems do you plan to integrate with Arena? And the other is: Do you have resources in-house to specify and write integrations using the Arena Events Engine and APIs?
The two most popular responses are integrating with … ERP and CAD. Yeah, so it’s … yeah. ERP and CAD are the most popular responses, and they are tied. And then as far as whether or not you have the in-house resources, we have a few people who are saying that they have people in-house who can specify integrations, but then, but a majority of the people neither have in-house resources for specifying nor writing API-based integrations.
So, thank you for participating. Now, I’d like to introduce our speakers. Roy Stafford is a Principal Product Marketing with Arena who manages our integration products and he’ll start the presentation. Next, we have Rodney Coffey, Business Development Management, and Tim Noche, Noce, sorry, Tim Noce, Vice President of Product, from Razorleaf. All three have many years of PLM and PLM integration experience so we’re hoping you bring your questions.
Like I said, we’ll start with Roy, who’s going to talk about the latest in APIs and then introduce the Arena Event Engine, including some use cases and resources, and then we’ll hand the mic over to Razorleaf who will overview their company and their capabilities and also their technology and a demonstration of an integration. Finally, there’ll be questions and a raffle. So I will hand the mic over to Roy who will start with the new APIs.
Thanks, Ann. Before we get started with this whole cool new Events Engine, I just wanted to review what’s available in the API today and this is specifically the Arena API that Razorleaf would then use to integrate to other systems. Today, we support secure access to Arena and all of the worlds you see here. We have items, files, supplier items, suppliers, changes, requests, tickets, and quality. We can also access Arena’s data extract, the outbound integrations, the outbound events, which is our main subject today, and recent activity.
Then new for this release that just came out a couple weeks ago are the bullets in green there, and they’re BOM substitute support, access to item future changes. We now support an advanced search through the API for items, which is similar to the UIs advanced search, and we support the requests world for the views you see there as well as the tickets world. And then finally, we added support to the Event Engine’s outbound events, which we’ll discuss in the upcoming slides here.
The Arena Event Engine publishes events as they occur in Arena. Integrations can then programmatically consume and reconcile those events. So, some examples of integrations that could be created using the capability are creating a CRM case when an Arena quality process is created and then close it when it’s completed in Arena. Upload a data sheet to a website when an item is released in Arena. Send a group chat message when an Arena change is completed. Notify a CAD system when an Arena CAD item is submitted for a change.
These are just a couple examples. I’m sure you guys can come up with many, many more. With this first release, we support the quality change in items world. Events can be triggered on creation, editing, and workflow state changes of quality processes, changes, and items. The generation of these events can then be filtered by attributes, including, for example, quality templates, item category, change workflow states, or custom attributes.
For example, you could filter events for quality processes that are members of the corrective action template at a specific lifecycle phase. I’m going to take you through a slide demonstration of this capability, and then we’ll get to a much cooler demonstration from Razorleaf. All right. So, in the first slide here, we have two boxes. The first box shows car CAR-61. It’s a corrective action. It’s in preventative action state and it’s not yet been completed.
And then the second box there shows the existing event queue, which contains events for the completion of corrective actions 59 and 60 that have occurred in the past. So when this corrective action is completed in Arena, then the event is queued in the event queue and made available for consumption. An integration can then pull the event queue, determine if there are any new events, the integration obtains the event in any addition, and can use any additional API endpoints to gather the details that are required for that integration.
For example, it may get the corrective actions attributes and load them into the CRM system. And then finally, once that integration has successfully processed the corrective action, it can reconcile the event in Arena, meaning that the corrective action has been processed with Arena and it’s essentially checked off from the queue or reconciled from the queue. I’m going to hand it over to Rodney from Razorleaf.
Yeah, good afternoon, everyone. I’m Rodney Coffey. I’m the acting Practice Manager, Business Development Manager for our Arena business here. Really excited about the things that we’ve done here the last year, year and a half with Arena and today we’re just going to give you a quick introduction to Razorleaf, talk a little bit about who we are in partnership with Arena, and then I’ll hand it over to Tim to actually talk about our CLOVER IntegrateIT platform and how we’re using that to integrate with Arena. So, who is Razorleaf? So we’ve been around since 2000, a little over 20 years, and we really are three global organizations, which I’ll talk about in just a moment.
We are around 75 to 100 employees, 75 here in the United States, sort of spread out all over. We are a completely remote organization and were even prior to the pandemic, and then we have developers, contractors, other consulting folks that we pull in as needed to assist us and that makes up the other 20, 25 folks that are part of our migration integration team. And of course, lots of customers, lots of implementations. I think one thing that makes us unique, especially when it comes to this integration conversation, is just our breadth of platforms.
I’d say what makes us unique in our PLM professional services world is we are somewhat vendor agnostic, so as you’ll see there across the bottom, we support a lot of different major vendors around the PLM space. We were happy to add Arena to this, like I said, probably about a year and a half ago, and this really gives us a real breadth of experience across a number of platforms. I would say, as Ann put out the survey earlier, integration is a core part of most of our projects today.
Go back 10 years, this was a pretty complex topic, heavy code, a lot of customization to get those integrations in place. Today, almost right out of the gate, customers are considering ERP, CRM, MRP integration, just as part of the core project, as part of the necessity of implementing PLM. So this gives us a lot of great experience to dive into that. So if we look at Razorleaf Corporation, I think it’s important to know, like I said, we’re really three organizations that help us fit into our customer base.
Razorleaf Corporation, which Tim and I are both a part of, is there in the middle. Like I said earlier, we’ve been around for quite a while, 20 years, 21 years. That company is mainly based out of … if we had a headquarters, we would say Akron, Ohio, or out of Cleveland, Ohio. And then we also, I’d say well, since about 2016, we’ve had a Razorleaf Government Solutions business. So for a long time, we’ve got a lot of Department of Defense, think of the Navy, Army, Air Force-type contracts, and right around 2016, we spun that company off to help us address those customer needs and contracts.
So if you are in that space, we have a leg there to help handle those types of contracts. I will say, too, I think what really helps us out of the government solutions business is the experience we have around ITAR and dealing with Department of Defense contractors themselves. There’s a lot out of security and extra things that have to be put in place to deal with that, so that team helps us with that. And then since 2018, we started to spread our wings a little bit globally. We have our office there in Razorleaf Europe.
There’s been talk about an office in Germany and abroad. So that team looks like few sales folks and I think three or four technical folks over there at this point and they really help us expand for global support. We do L1 support desk as well as deal with our customers who have satellite offices around the globe. I’d say one of the things, one of the other things, that makes us unique is we have really good retention here and a lot of our people … we’re here to talk about integration today … a lot of our folks not just have the PLM experience, so not just platform experience, we know how to pick and click the buttons in Arena to make it do something, but really a lot of good process knowledge around parts and BOMs, just general product data management, the workflows.
We think of things like change supplier, even training or learning management system experience. We are doing a lot of that all the time for an array of different clients. That being said, on the integration side development is really important. We all go into these projects wanting to think they’re a piece of cake, and they have gotten easier, but it still requires a development level of experience to make these projects successful. So we’ve got a lot of former SQL DBAs, a lot of pure developers with all your common language sets, as well former network administrators.
And then on the CAD side, I’d say that’s obviously a close part of our business, being an engineering services company, so we’ve got a lot of folks that have expertise in SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Inventor, the line of products, I think of CATIA as well as integrating and working with those tools. Our core services. So we’re here to talk about integration, but a lot of times those projects lead us in other directions. So we’re going to be your standard professional services company.
We do implementation, migration often times comes along for that, especially when we’re migrating a customer from a legacy platform. A lot of times, even in an integration to ERP, there’s some level of migration that happens there. Of course, integration support, and training, and then more recently, probably about the last two years, we’ve dove off into test automation, too, as that’s become a pretty important part of our customers’ business as they’re testing and developing on their system architecture. So, our customer base is pretty wide.
I think this is one of the things that keeps me here in the industry and in the consulting field—is just that we’re tackling parts and BOMs, but just across a number of different industries and a lot of times if you’re, say, an oil and gas company, and that’s all you’re doing, there’s a lot of things that take away from the commercial business, whether it be an electronics and consumer business or transportation. A lot of these processes are ever evolving, right? I always tell customers, PLM is really only ever 80% complete because your business is going to evolve.
This breadth of this customer base really allows us to take things learned from someone in one industry and then apply it to another, so it’s just really exciting. You’ll see that our customer base is all over the map as far as size, as well. We have a lot of smaller manufacturing, supply chain companies that we work with as well as some Fortune 500 large customers on this grid too, so a good array of customers here, and then specifically about our Arena relationship. So like I said, we’ve been at, at this probably for a year and a half in early conversations and really this last year made a lot of traction.
So, we’ve had a lot of early adopter customers, a lot of folks that we’re talking to, pretty decent pipe, and PTC/ Arena this last year was perfect. So now we’re able to take and manage those things, get out in the field, talk to customers, and start providing better integrations. The key focus that you want to take away from how we approach integrations, there’s kind of two schools of thought in this industry, and there’s a connector approach. I’ve got off the shelf that’s connector, that’s going to allow you to connect A and B, say Arena and NetSuite, or Arena and Omnify, or whatever it might be.
Our real goal is to build a fluid workflow process across different business systems. So in PLM, you’re dealing with the engineering department commonly, product data management folks, that’s where the ideation, the management of taking that to release is happening, and then in ERP you’re doing supply chain, planning, inventory management. So we want one fluid process to take the data, get it to the right people, right place, right time. So that’s a lot of what you’re going to hear and see through the demonstration that Tim is going to provide.
Common endpoints for us. ERP, CRM, PDM, MRP. If there’s a gap around a CAD connector, we have tackled a number of CAD integrations. We could answer questions, talk about those things later. And then we do … we have worked hard to, around the integrated product, kind of fit the space we’re in with the Arena customer base. So, we sort of have a basic services project that runs on a basic CLOVER subscription, sort of a basic plus services project that’s run on a professional subscription, so three to four endpoints, maybe some bidirectional integration that we’re going to use from PLM to X, whatever the other business system is.
And then if you have upward of four different endpoints, multiple integrations, maybe a migration, we’re going to be passing data around, we’re going to do data metrics and pull reporting out, then those are the types of things we’re doing as part of an enterprise services project. So, CLOVER IntegrateIT. So, before I pass it off to Tim, like I said, CLOVER IntegrateIT is our integration platform. It’s been around in one form or another for probably 15 years, I would say.
This started as a batch processing engine for us and then as we pushed on, we’ve also done integration and with other tools. Think of things like Neilsoft, Jitterbit Bizz Talk, Dell Boomi. You name it, we’ve been asked to do it, at least, and explored it. I think in dealing with all those other tools, it made a lot of sense for us to build something that was more focused on the PLM use cases and had a more flexible engine to deal with those workflow processes and that’s what we did. So, I’d say it was probably about five years ago, we took a number of different integration tools, bundled those together, packaged them up, and that is the CLOVER IntegrateIT product as we have it today.
So with that, I’m going to hand it off to Tim to teach you a little bit more on the technical side of IntegrateIT.
Okay, great. So building on what Rodney talked about, PLM’s pretty unique in that all the relationships between files and data and CAD and all of those things are stored and structured in such a fashion that provides pretty complex hierarchy and a really extensive platform for storing your information and processing workflows. What we found over the years is that it takes a lot of effort and code to build an integration around all of that data, so we developed the CLOVER IntegrateIT platform to handle all the specific use cases around PLM.
What do we see most commonly? Parts and BOMs, obviously. When something’s released via ECO or directly, parts and BOMs getting to downstream systems is probably the most-often-asked-for integration type of integration. We see a lot of extending a change workflow from PDM systems through to PLM to ERP systems and having each system participate in that workflow as part of the entire enterprise end to end.
We see publication of files, CAD files, document specs, step files, anything that’s needed downstream to do manufacturing or potentially share with a supplier, share with somebody in shipping and receiving, those kind of things. The exchange of vendor quality and approved vendor list. Those types of things are pretty common along with being able to supply full bid specifications and technical data packages from the files and data stored in PLM.
And then as part of that, of course, you have to synchronize data between systems to make sure that when you’re publishing to ERP or those other types of structured systems, that your units of measure and those types of core data elements are in sync, maybe get the product cost and inventory information back into PLM, move it upstream so that a designer can make a better product selection when designing a product. So, the benefits to an integration and integration with CLOVER.
I mentioned a couple of them already. You gain a lot of efficiency by working … by allowing your users to work in the system that they’re accustomed to and providing them the files of data at the time they need it in the system they’re used to working in. With automating that, the business decisions come quicker, the accuracy improves, the digitalization becomes easier, and everybody becomes more productive. So it’s really all about creating this digital thread, right?
You’ve probably heard the term out there in industry. It’s about connecting. Connecting people, connecting systems, connecting enterprises together, right? So in our simple example today, we’ll talk about how Arena can interface through CLOVER to reach other types of systems. Those systems can be on-premise, or those systems can be potentially at a client site or a vendor site. Pretty much any type of enterprise system can be used to exchange information with Arena.
So I’m going to give you a little bit of an overview on how this works, and then we’ll get to a short demo video that will show some of it. But an integration with Arena basically looks something like this. So there’s some sort of a release event here. In my example, I’m just going to do a BOM release here, but it could be anything that triggers this release, right? Could be quality process hits a certain stage. It could be some sort of a change happens, but for this example, we’re just going to use a simple BOM release.
I think it gives a good understanding of what needs to happen. When that happens in Arena, you set … if an integration is set up to acknowledge that release, through the new API set, it creates an outbound event and puts it into a queue. That queue then is accessed through our CLOVER queue pulling service, which is monitoring that queue for anything that happens. As it goes through the queue, if it finds something of interest, something that needs to be done, the BOM release in this case, it recognizes and starts to process that event.
It sends a message to another piece of CLOVER called our listener service that is the interface for the central platform. The central platform, basically it’s responsible for queuing the job to make sure that the job completes and is handled, doing all notifications, spinning up job processors, and assigning the job to be completed. In my example here, I’ll spin up a single job processor.
CLOVER is capable of scaling out so you can have as many job processors as you need to perform either different tasks, scaling similar tasks, or even globally distributing the processors so that you can process information locally. The processor itself does all the hard work. It handles all the mapping of data, all the data extraction, all the communication between systems, all the data transformation, and all of those types of operations.
In my example here, the event that came in was simply a release event, right? It said this BOM was released and here’s the ECO number for it. The job processor will reach back out into Arena through the web service APIs that Roy mentioned earlier, get all the related information, the part attributes, the BOM attributes, the ECO data, maybe some change or some files of those kind of things, and return it to the job processor. Then the job processor will push that information down to any other type of endpoint.
Could be NetSuite or an ERP system, PeopleSoft or SAP. Could be SharePoint, could be a database system, Oracle or SQL server. Could be Box or Dropbox or OneDrive. The number of endpoints that you can access is pretty much unlimited and, of course, I think Rodney mentioned, but I’ll mention again, this isn’t a single directional thing. You can not only have the ability to return data to CLOVER for pushing back into Arena, but you can actually trigger from CRM or something upstream to begin the process and invoke data exchange with the Arena platform.
I mentioned, but I’ll talk more about what the capabilities are here. What can CLOVER connect to? Just about anything and everything, so whether it’s standard web service APIs like what are provided by Arena or somebody like NetSuite, or structured files that SAP outputs, it doesn’t really matter what the endpoint is or what type of data is structured. CLOVER is set up to handle that. So, through modern services like SOAP and REST to more traditional connection directly to databases, to the newer API-driven message buses using security services for LDAP and active directory, it can process just about anything.
It can send HTML messages and connect to FTP sites. It can process any type of structured data, JSON, XML, Excel, and pretty much anything else. So, I’ve got a short video demo here. it’s just a minute or a minute and a half long, but it’ll go through a part release and it’s just going to simply take a release event that is triggered in Arena and it’s going to pass some information onto SharePoint through our CLOVER system.
So, basically looking at a prototype part here, we decide it’s time to release that into production. We’ll go ahead and do a direct release, and we could do an ECO here as well, but for the demo it was shorter just to do a direct release. So we’re going to increment the revision to an alphanumeric A and put it in production and click next. Note, the user hasn’t done anything different than they normally would here, right? We see that the part was released, it’s in production now, but what happened is that the outbound event queue was updated with the action that occurred, and that’s on the new integration tab.
You can see that, and you can see the details of what’s in that queue. When that happens, our CLOVER polling service is always listening and polling for those changes, and it runs an event that tells it exactly what to do. Take … go back in, get the data, pass it along to this system, that system, et cetera. Everything’s queued up so that it completes properly here. The job simply updated SharePoint with the part. I think it picked up a file here.
Yeah. It picked up the JPEG image of a file. That could be any type of file, could be a CAD file related to that part or a corrective action request or a requirement just about an, any type of file or data can be processed. And then the last step is that CLOVER goes back and reconciles the record so that we know that the event was processed, that the downstream system has the up-to-date information and that the part BOM, file information, whatever was passed, has been successfully completed.
Okay. So that’s the short demo. Hopefully you have lots of questions and answers. I’ll turn it back over to Ann and we’ll get that started.
Thank you, Tim. Like Tim said, we’re going to do a few minutes of Q&A and I just wanted to remind you that it’s not too late to ask a question or upvote a question. I see we do have a couple of questions. Even if it’s … if you want to describe your situation a little bit, they might be able to say whether or not they can do what you’re wondering about. Please remember that these are anonymous questions so we’ll …
If you have a question and we don’t get to it … last time we did an event, I had a couple of questions right at the very end and I didn’t see them until after we wrapped up. So if something like that happens, please feel free to contact Razorleaf through the external link provided or through Arena, starting with Arena support. Okay. So the first question is going to be for Roy and it is … okay. Okay.
Roy, this is about the Event Engine. What workflow state changes can be used to create events?
The Event Engine, as we mentioned, supports three worlds so far. Items, changes, and quality, and then one of the what we call actions that it supports as a workflow state change. We also support editing and creating to generate events. So for the workflow state change, we really support any of the workflow state changes of that appropriate resource. So for changes, for example, we can detect when it’s coming from unreleased to submitted or submitted to rejected, or to effective, effective to expired, effective to completed, canceled, going, withdrawn back to an open stage.
Any of those can be detected, including details of sort of the first … the original state, and then the final state. For items, it’s the whole item lifecycle, including custom life stages that you’re … excuse me. Custom lifecycle phases that you may have defined. So, the typical ones are in design or in production, but you can create custom ones as well, or going to abandon or deprecated or obsolete, or going back to unreleased. And then for quality, there is sort of the completion state, which is the completion of the quality process as a whole and then we also support all of the phases that are associated with the template.
So if a corrective action in our example has five or six different phases, you can detect changes to or from any of those five or six different phases.
All right. Good.
Ann, I’d like to add and say that …
Oh, yeah. Please do.
With the CLOVER job engine platform, we can interpret data during those middle job steps. So when an event occurs, if we want to determine what the next action is based on a value that was set, commonly something like a checkbox that says release this to ERP, or that it was coming from a specific workflow, we can interpret the data and the CLOVER engine can process that business rule and process the data according to whatever custom business rule is set up.
Yeah. That’s true. That’s really powerful. That’s great. Actually, Tim, while I have you, here’s a question I believe that you could answer, or at least start, is: How do you handle integration as business systems are upgraded or changed, or, I guess, what do you have to do to integrations as people upgrade their systems?
That’s a great question and one of the reasons that we built this CLOVER engine as opposed to doing point-to-point integrations. We’ve done every type of integration from database to database, point to point, using APIs. In any type and fashion, we’ve done integrations. We landed on the CLOVER processing engine because it abstracts the destination system. So it’s very common, especially in the ERP world, to need to plan for upgrades and those kind of things. ERP upgrades happen every couple of years, CAD upgrades happen a couple times a year, and so by abstracting the endpoints from the job itself, all we have to do is test the interface against those systems and change an IP address or change a location.
So, an upgrade path for us … to support an upgrade path, it’s very simple, it’s very quick, and it can be tested prior to the release of the new version and then it can happen in seconds or minutes.
Wow. Yeah. Big advantage. Again, just because I have you here, I’m going to ask you one more question and it’s kind of related to the previous question, which is: Is it possible to connect a number of different business systems and then get reports of the data from those systems?
I can see where you’d pull costing from one system and propose change from another. Yeah.
Absolutely. So once we make the connection and we have that occasionally, right, supporting … using the platform to support a business intelligence systems or decision support system. So we can take, as events occur, we can take data out of each system and publish it to a reporting system or we can look in live into those systems to pull data together for reports. The options are pretty limitless because the jobs are all customizable. So we see that use case quite a bit and we see the other end of that as well, where maybe you have an HR system that has a whole lot of information in it and an employee leaves and that information to deprovision our employee gets passed to CLOVER, which then only passes appropriate information to other systems.
So if the data that’s passed includes things that other systems don’t need to see, we can split that data and only pass appropriate information to the systems to do exactly what they need to do.
Yeah. That’s really good. You’ve already done quite a bit. You have a lot of experience, not only systems integrations experience, but manufacturing and PLM experiences so, so valuable to our customers. Let’s see. I have a couple for Rodney, or I mean I imagine it’s for Rodney, but Tim, if you want to jump in. Rodney, first question for you. What are the standard time frames it takes to get an integration up and running?
Yeah, that’s a good question. So, we have a standard, and so I think I talked about this a little bit in the slides, but we have a pretty standard approach to all these projects. So it’s discovering your definition. We’re basically going to be looking for … the guys have already, Roy and Tim, pointed out a lot of different parts of the project through the questions they’ve answered. So if you think about it, what we’re doing in that discovery definition is really hammering down the raw requirements. We’re looking for two key things. The data mapping, of course, what data we want to pass, and then we’re looking for the event triggers.
So to the points that Roy made, what part of the workflow can we push things out? We’re defining those event triggers from PLM and the other endpoint. So let’s say it’s ERP. So our wheelhouse example is parts involved in change management, where we’re going to pass that, and then we have the development cycle where we’re actually building out the initial implementation. A lot of times, if the customer is … we recommend they have at least one sort of integration subject matter expert or someone we’re grooming to be the subject matter expert for integration.
So that person will usually ride along for some of the development, help us shape things. We do user acceptance testing to make sure everything’s working and then we have a little bit of immediate adoption support just to make sure everything gets off the ground while the customer has a good plan to adopt because, like I tell everyone, whether it’s an integration project or PLM project, if we build the coolest thing in the world, if nobody uses it, then it doesn’t work out. So we do make sure we do some adoption planning at the end. So I’d say for a simple integration, you’re looking at …
We’re usually three to four weeks just to bundle all that up. Sometimes it’s a little less that we’re just looking at a small part number type integration or we’re just going to pass parts. And then if we’re doing a big multifaceted integration where we have multiple endpoints, the data warehousing or the reporting aspect that Tim just talked about, then we’ll add time as needed to get those things done.
Yeah. Good. Following on, this is the integration, now there’s a question about support. I’m merging two questions here for people watching the Q&A panel here. So, the first part of it: Is it easy to self-administer IntegrateIT post-implementation, and then follow on: Does Razorleaf provide primary support for any issues that come up with an integration?
Yeah, I think I’ll address this by talking about the subscription itself, so kind of coming out of project mode and then being in the CLOVER subscription. So the technical benefit of having CLOVER in the middle is that dam or that gateway that allows us to manage the passing of the data, whether it’s two, three, 10 different endpoints. So that can be cumbersome. Some of those things might be completely Cloud. Let’s think at things like Arena and a Salesforce integration. Those two businesses are managing their APIs.
They’re usually adding things, not removing things, that would affect the integration. So usually those are pretty straightforward, especially come upgrade time. For a customer that is on CLOVER subscription, because that’s the annual fee much like all SaaS software today, they’re fully supported. So any tickets they have, any downtime issues, anything like that were to come up, that’s all going to go through the Razorleaf CLOVER help desk so you have your standard software support as part of that. So that is there to support them long term.
So out of project, we’re doing a little bit of enablement. Again, we want an admin there to be able to at least troubleshoot. We’ll also do a little bit of training. We do have some customers who have expanded their own integrations, so they’ve kind of become CLOVER experts themselves, which we love. We’ll do some enablement and some training around those folks, if that’s something the customer’s interested in. We obviously want them to be able to take advantage of the platform for any and all things they want, and I love customers that will self-enable, right? We don’t want to be the crutch forever as far as development goes.
So I think with the CLOVER, with the CLOVER subscription, you have all your support you need for long-term support and then we do some enablement to get a customer really where they want to be, whether they just want to be able to troubleshoot and submit tickets or whether they want to be able to take that and innovate on the platform themselves.
Yeah. Good. Yeah. That makes sense.
Did I hit everything there?
I think so. It was … yeah. So administering it yourself and then the support of it after, not only the CLOVER, but also the integrations that you write, and you added training. I know what it was … there was one more thing I thought was, oh, go ahead.
So I used the Salesforce Arena API integration as part of that. Let’s talk about on-prem for a minute. So, let’s say you have on-prem PDM, think of something like PDM Professional, Autodesk Vaults, any tool like that, or even a legacy of PLM or Windows application that you want to integrate with. What we do as part of the annual support, the annual subscription, is once a year, let’s say … let’s use PDM professional because that’s a popular one.
You’re eventually going to want to upgrade that along with your SOLIDWORKS, right? So, usually customers are in a yearly or a bi-yearly, so every other year, upgrade path for those tools. What we do, included in subscription, is make sure that that integration is going to move forward successfully. So again, those guys aren’t … they’re a little more, maybe aggressive, with their changing of interfaces what’s available in the SDK, the toolkit, the developer’s toolkit, or the APIs that you have available to you.
So what we’ll usually do is we’ll look at an existing integration. If we support … again, remember we support a lot of different PLM and PDM, so we usually have our eyes on those things and know how they’re going to impact our integrations. So if a customer … we do an integration from PDM Pro to Arena that’s sitting there today, they’re going to upgrade their PDM Pro next year, we like to know ahead of time so the farther ahead of time we can get notice, submit a ticket, let us know that you’re going to be upgrading your PDM Pro, now we’ll start to evaluate the integration that you have, make sure there’s nothing that’s going to be impacted by the upgrade.
If there is, then we’ll do remediation, we’ll jump in and help. That’ll all be part of that support. If there’s new things that you want to add because there’s new features or new APIs, similar to the new stuff that Roy talked about, then we’ll just do a smaller services project to put those things in place for you. But the core of it, moving you forward to make sure that the integration is staying up to date with the version of the on-prem software you’re using, that’s all taken care of through subscription.
Yeah. Great. Okay. I think we have time for three more, but I’m going to do the one that’s been upvoted the most since someone asked it. Is it possible to change file state in PDM or in a PDM system based on defined events in Arena?
Yeah. So this is a pretty popular … when we talk about PDM integration, this is a pretty popular request because really your plan, your designers, engineers are using the CAD package. They’re putting data into PDM and then the rest of your organization is using the PLM system, which really has control over the master data for the part or the bill of material. So yeah, I would say what we usually end up doing is … so a common way, again with PDM, is they usually have a pretty simplified lifecycle.
So let’s think like preliminary, in review, and released. We’ll let them put their data in review step, which triggers the integration to pass the parts off to, say, PLM, to Arena. And then as those parts get added to a change order, they get released in Arena, we’ll then go back and push the right revision and release those documents over in PDM Pro. So you sort of allow PLM to come in and take control of the lifecycle state of the workflow down in the PDM tool.
Yeah. I was wondering about … the scenario that jumped to my mind is a obsoleting part. So if you obsolete it in Arena can you tell PDM to stop using it?
Yeah. Same workflow, so sort of a little bit of rinse and repeat. Now I’ve got a part in PDM that’s sitting in an in-review state because we know we’re getting ready to obsolete the part, or it could even be in a release state and then the part is made obsolete, going through obsolescence in Arena. When it hits that obsolete state, we’ll go back to PDM Pro and we’ll trigger that flag. So there’s an initial … I talked about how we run a project. That’s really what we’re doing in that discovery definition is saying, “Hey, in a PDM integration, these are the states I have today. These are the states I’m going to need to make a successful integration with PLM.”
Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. Okay. The next … this one just got upvoted. So, it is: You’re familiar with FDA validation. Is validation or … I’m sure it can. Can validation be included in the project plan?
Yes. So, what … I’ll answer this cause I’ve got a lot of med device customers that have to deal with validation. So what I’ll usually do in a screening call with a client, if we know that they’re going to have, let’s use Part 11 compliance, for example. Like if we know they’re going to have to go through Part 11 and they want us to write because we’re going to write requirements that then become the standard form of requirements or the requirements document that can be used for PARDA validation, right?
How are we going to do this? Then if they want us to come back and help write a standard operating procedure or write construction documents or do … I’ve seen a lot of different types of validation docs. If they want our assistance doing that, we’ll just uncover that early in the sales cycle and we’ll add time to help with the documentation of it. But usually, at least in my experience, the customers that have to go through that validation, usually that’s their quality group that’s handling them. Usually, they’ll want to write the documents themselves and what we’ll end up giving them is a direct output of our Azure DevOps, where we have all the requirements and things because you’re looking for what’s the problem?
How are you going to solve it? How did you solve it, typically, right? So, we’ve done a fair amount of that.
Yeah. Good. Let’s see. I think we … have … let’s see. I’m just scanning here to see what we haven’t done yet.
While you’re looking, Ann, I’ll add to what Rodney said, and with federal compliance it’s very common to have to supply a documentation package, your data package, and sometimes those are files, sometimes that’s data that’s stored in PLM, but we have the ability with the CLOVER platform to extract those files, to turn the data cards into files, and to wrap that all up into a nice package in just a few clicks to provide to any regulatory agency, including, on the way, possibly stamping documents and those kind of things.
So, CLOVER’s pretty powerful. Gives you a lot of capability.
Yeah. We’ve really talked about moving data here, but to hit on two things Tim talked about, we have used the platform. We have used the integration platform just to do migrations for customers that are moving from platform to and platform. We’ve also used it as a batch processing engine, so I think the things Tim’s talking about, I need to export every time I release the file, I need a step file, I need an IJIS file, I want to print a PDF, I want to mark it, I want to watermark it with the current state. We’ve used that engine to do all those types of things.
There’s some prebuilt, I’ll say, tools that sort of hang off the CLOVER platform core that we use to do that and then for the data export package Tim is talking about, we could do a whole nother webinar on our CLOVER CollectIT product, which is also used just for that. So CollectIT is all about digging through … we used that example earlier, we had PLM and ERP and I’ve got different information about systems and I need to put a package together, like one solid package with data from both to send to a supplier.
That’s what CollectIT is all about. So it’s about coming through our business systems, gathering all the right data packaged up around the bill of material, and then making that package shareable with external parties.
Very powerful. That’s great. So, the last question, I’m going to merge three questions into our last question, and then we have to get to the raffle. I’m excited to share that. Let’s see. So, the first, just the high question: Are all integrations custom or do you have standard products available? And I’m imagining those connectors. That’s the first question. And then someone else asked about a NetSuite integration. Do you have that? Of course, Arena does too, but they were interested whether or not you do.
And then the other is … where is it? Did it move? Oh yeah. Someone upvoted it so it moved for me. Can Razorleaf create a SolidWorks to Arena connector to create parts and assemblies in SolidWorks and have this information automatically generated in Arena? So in general, do you have standards as well as custom integrations, Netflix or … Netflix. NetSuite. Sorry. Had to do that sometime! NetSuite and SolidWorks.
Yeah. So we haven’t done Netflix yet.
That would be handy though.
Yeah. So we have done a lot of … we have done a ton of NetSuite. So I’d say for a while, I’d say about three, four years ago, we saw boom in NetSuite integration business, so for a long time we were doing more NetSuite than we were anything else. I’d say NetSuite, Salesforce, and then of course, SAP, for the big ERPs. That being said, we’re not … I think what makes this different is that every integration is similar, but they’re all custom, if that makes sense.
So, I think that’s why we’ve got our integration design process that we follow when we get in with the client, is that there’s just … a lot of our competitors we’ve tried, I’ve got partners that do it, develop one-to-one connectors, so they sell you a piece of software that’s just going to pass these three pieces of data. All that is gateway, right. All that is to get a foot in the door, to do what you’re going to eventually end up doing with CLOVER anyway and that’s build an integration that fits your business. So, our approach has been more so to build tools and connectors that allow us to more easily interface with our common integration endpoints.
Arena, Omnify, NetSuite, Salesforce. So, we’ve got a lot of things sitting around, connector like, to enable better connections, but at the end of the day, it’s just … I mean, Tim and I have been doing this for more than 10 years, focused on this integration business and talking to clients from all different industries and vendors. We feel pretty comfortable with our approach that building … If we went out and we built 20 different connectors, the next customer is going to need the 21st new connector.
So, building a better approach to implementation feels a lot more strategic for us than just building one-off connectors. So I think we’ve got a standard project. We’ve got some standard subscription offering for that and that’s our approach there.
On the technical side of that, yeah things are prebuilt so parts and BOMs coming out of Arena … all our libraries contain all of the different item types coming out of Arena and that kind of thing. So, we’re not building from ground up so we can rapidly build an integration. A lot of the data structures are similar, but we have the flexibility Rodney mentioned of adjusting those as needed to meet your exact business processes.
I’ll add that we go back long before SolidWorks to the Conisio days. We were their first services partner and did all their support. We wrote the web API for SolidWorks E-PDM, so we’ve got a lot of experience on the SolidWorks side. What was the third part of that question? That was a three part … prebuilt. Oh, and Rodney already talked about NetSuite. So yes, we have a lot of prebuilt stuff.
We’re not start from scratch so we can get off the ground running and SolidWorks and NetSuite, absolutely.
Yeah, and actually, so just to sum it up, too, is to our customers that we’re talking to, you can see also the difference between working with a Razorleaf versus just, versus a systems integrator. Talk about almost like the software. Tim said they basically have the software, they just need to talk to you about some tweaks in the same way they basically understand high-tech manufacturing, a variety of manufacturing, PLM engineering change. You’re not going to have to explain to them what’s a reference designator.
Why would you need a substitute part? You know, those kind of things. So, they’re just starting at a level that you can really get down to business more quickly and efficiently and that’s why we’re really excited to have them as a partner. Also, don’t forget if you do have questions, you can contact Arena support. [email protected] or contact Razorleaf through the link that’s in the event. Thank you for joining us today.
We really did have good questions today and enjoyed the session. Be sure to contact Arena or Razorleaf, like I mentioned, if you do have any questions or you’re thinking about doing a new integration project. Our next Arena virtual event will be in January. Stay tuned for more details on that and please, again, note our new support email address is [email protected] and if you have any ideas or comments about the events, please just contact me through the event platform or you can email me at, written here, amcguire, [email protected]. Thank you. Thank you very much.