PLM (Vendors) and Lean Product Development-Part 4: PTC

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If you have followed my previous posts of this blog series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), I guess you may have an idea about who will be the third vendor I’m going to discuss concerning the relevance between its product lifecycle management (PLM) offerings and the lean product development (LPD) concept. Yes, it is PTC. Like Dassault Systèmes and Siemens PLM Software, PTC is also located in the CAD-PLM camp (read this article if you want to know more about how I categorized major PLM vendors into two categories) that provides both PLM tools and PLM as the management platform.

Recently, I had a close look at PTC’s PLM solutions during the certification process for PTC Windchill. My overall impression is that Windchill is a well-built PLM solution for discrete manufacturing industries. It is one of the most comprehensive PLM solutions that I have ever seen. Besides its longevity within the core PLM area (i.e., the base foundation of PLM covering design and product-related aspects of PLM such as management of material specifications, product structures, documents, classifications, design collaboration, etc.), Windchill’s advancements on product development, portfolio management, and project management are also impressive.

Besides my overall impression, the following two elements are what I will use to relate PTC to LPD.

Product Sustainability

Being “lean” requires companies to reduce unnecessary use of resources and non-value-added activities, but within product development, the efforts in developing compliant and environment-friendly products can’t be treated as something unnecessary. Without regulatory and compliance capabilities embedded into product development processes, an organization can’t meet the increasing product sustainability requirements from customers.

PTC was able to strengthen its capability in helping develop more sustainable products through acquisitions:

  • In December 2008, PTC announced its acquisition of Synapsis Technology, Inc., a vendor focusing on environmental regulatory compliance solutions.

  • In June 2009, PTC acquired Relex Software Corporation, another specialized software and service provider for product reliability and safety.

In my opinion, material compliance, product reliability, and product safety all lead to one direction—product sustainability.

Social Product Development

Social product development is not a new concept within the PLM domain but it can’t reach the prosperity unless social computing technologies are widely adopted. Generally speaking, having a broader range of product stakeholders’ (including customers’ and end-users’) opinions as the input in the earliest possible stage of product development is an exemplary approach to making downstream processes leaner.

In December 2008, PTC started offering Windchill ProductPoint (a PLM solution built on top of Microsoft SharePoint) with social product development as one of the main selling points. This approach shows PTC’s efforts of using SharePoint’s Web 2.0 features for internal socialization among product designers and developers. I hope PTC will go further and include more participants in product socialization, and incorporate the social product development features into its other Windchill offerings.

On PTC’s Web site—categorized under business initiatives—there is a page dedicated to LPD. Personally, I’d like to see more information than it currently provides, but at least it shows the company’s belief that LPD is one of the top business initiatives related to PLM adoption.
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