Customize is NOT a 4 Letter Word
PLM Blog - Aras User Blog


Graphic courtesty of Michelle Verbeeck Designs

Every day I talk to people who’ve implemented legacy PLM systems. And when I ask them how much of their system they’ve deployed, I always get the same answer. Not much!  Whether it’s Windchill, Teamcenter, Agile or whatever, the story is always the same: they’ve invested X years and Y millions and usually all they’re using it for is CAD file management and/or change management. These people are frustrated and angry, as they keep getting more sales quotations from their vendor. And most importantly, they really NEED the advanced PLM functionality they thought they were going to get when they made their purchase decision.

So what went wrong? These are smart people, these are people who understand product development and technology…  you might even call them “PLM Alpha Dogs”. So, how do so many companies find themselves in the same position with their PLM system? I’ll tell you how – they bought the demo.

Legacy PLM companies spend lots of time creating custom demos that make everything look like it works right “out the box”. And the bigger the sales opportunity, the more time they’ll invest in building that demo. It’s no wonder companies swoon when they see it. Those demos are downright intoxicating. Unfortunately, they’re not real.

There are (at least) 3 truths to implementing a PLM system:

  1. You’re going to customize your PLM system
  2. Everyone is afraid of customizing their PLM system
  3. They’re afraid because customization traditionally increases cost and/or prohibits the ability to upgrade

You’re Going to Customize Your PLM System

It doesn’t matter how “out of the box” the solution is, you are going to customize it. Even if you don’t customize it today, you will at some point because your business isn’t going to stay exactly the same forever. The more “off the shelf” the PLM is, the further back you have to break it in order to customize it. The net result is that you pay for something, break it and then spend more time and money trying to get it back to a baseline so you can use it. Does that even make sense?

Everyone is Afraid of Customizing Their PLM System

Of course you are! You’ve seen that legacy code hairball. I wouldn’t want to touch it either. It’s hardcoded, old technology and the legacy PLM vendors like it that way. They don’t want you to touch it. However, they’re willing to do it for you – for a price.

Customization Traditionally Increases Cost and/or Prohibits the Ability to Upgrade

See above. Either by design or by lethargy, legacy PLM systems cost a lot to customize. And once customized, they are nearly impossible to upgrade. It’s a vicious cycle and before you know it the consultants have their own parking spaces in your lot and their own company ID cards.

So what do you do?

Well, you could rip out the legacy system you’ve already invested in and install a new one, but you’d waste all the money you already spent and likely end up with a similar set of problems.  You could build your own system. But that’s a risky undertaking. It takes time and people and resources - and you already have a full-time job. You’d also have to maintain it, which takes more time, resources and people. Or, you could use a PLM system like Aras that is designed to be customized.

Aras PLM – Built to Customize

It’s true. Aras PLM solutions are built on a modern, web-based foundation, based on industry standards through and through. They’re free to download, easy to use, and customized with a simple drag and drop – no time-sucking code compiling here. We’ll even give you the source to the PLM solutions. Oh, and those upgrades? Not a problem. We’re so confident we even do them free of charge for subscribers.

Yes, we offer out-of-the-box PLM solutions with best practices and all the basics in there, along with tons of functionality. And we built them all out for you so that when you customize – and you know you will – you’re moving forward from the get-go, not backward.

And here’s the best part: Aras works right along with what you’ve already got.

There’s no need to trash your existing PLM or PDM. If you’ve got CAD file management under control, that’s cool with us. Thanks to some nifty federation capabilities, we don’t have to own the data in order to revise it, track it, route it, use it, build on it, share it, or send it over to your ERP and bring it back.

Aras builds on the investment you’ve already made, giving you the advanced, enterprise functionality you need today in a flexible system designed to change and grow with your business. And you can learn more at 


Posted Fri, Sep 23 2011 1:32 PM by Jennifer


PLM Blog - Aras Corporate Blog wrote PLM – Back To The 80s?
on Wed, Nov 9 2011 4:17 PM

When I read in the Twitter feeds from Oleg and Jonathan Scott at The Dassault Systemes Customer Conference