Role-based Workflows, Classification and Security Permissions in Aras

June 8, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should allow for the creation of workflows by specific roles (role-based workflow), so that individual users belonging to a specific role or group are guided through a workflow that is tailored for their process requirements.

Peter Schroer:

The entire Aras Innovator platform is a roles-based system including workflow processes.

All Workflow and Lifecycle assignments are made to Identities in the security model.

Identity is an Aras abstraction that resolves to either an individual person, all persons trained to perform a role, or all persons that are members of a group, where groups and roles are also hierarchical.

Classification can be used for different roles / groups by product line, product type, program project, plant, division, doc type or any other designation (or combination of) to guide BPM workflows.

Business rules can of course be based on other attributes for whatever complicated workflow scenario your business requires as well.

We provide training on how to set-up, administer and customize Aras Innovator’s workflows, lifecycles and classification structures as well as security permissions for identities, roles and groups.

For additional information see ‘BPM Workflow Voting, Conditional Process Steps and Dynamic Assignments in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’.

BPM Workflow Library and Custom Workflows in Aras

June 7, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should enable a library of workflows from which administrators and authorized users can select and apply workflows appropriate to the process, product, project or other requirement. This library should contain both process flow and business rules.

Peter Schroer:

The standard out-of-the-box Aras Innovator PLM solutions include this capability.

Workflow Maps is the Aras term for the library of processes that are maintained by the administrator or power users that have the appropriate permissions.

Your company will have dozens of Workflow Maps in the library.

You can easily modify, extend and integrate your Workflows using the graphical drag-and-drop editor in Aras Innovator’s Solutions Studio.

You can even create entirely new Workflows from scratch in minutes instead of months.   These can be for your global PLM environment or even non-PLM business processes.

We provide training on how to manage and customize Aras Innovator’s workflows.

For additional information see ‘Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras’ and ‘Change Process Definition, SOA Workflow Service and Integration in Aras‘ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’.

Aras Workflow Process Map Library

Screenshot example of Workflow Map library in Aras and the initiation of a New Workflow (Create New)

BPM Workflows, Email Alerts and Custom Email Capabilities in Aras

June 6, 2012

MarcL: Triggers must be provided to send email messages and distribute defined packets of information at appropriate, defined events within change processes.

Peter Schroer:

At every Activity in a Workflow (and State in a Lifecycle, Deliverable in a Project, Action Item, etc.) the Aras modeling engine supports defined triggers (multiple events are available, for example for a Workflow, a trigger is fired upon Activity Assignment, upon Activity time-out, upon Activity Vote registration, etc).

In Aras Innovator the drag-and-drop Solution Studio user interface allows these events to be easily linked to email notifications (SMTP compliant, which works well with Microsoft Exchange as well as Lotus Notes and other email packages).

The email notifications are constructed of Layout Templates and Recipients.

The layout of the email messages will include content from the items that are being routed by the Workflow / Lifecycle and can include File attachments as well.

The emails can be plain text or rich, formatted HTML, HTML with XML or other options.

Emails can include secure URL links back to specific steps in Workflows, Project activities and other Items in PLM where the user must authenticate to gain access.

They can also include standard template text as well as dynamically generated content.

We provide training on how to customize and manage Aras Innovator’s workflows, emails and alerts as well as other related capabilities.

For additional information see ‘Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’.

BPM Workflow Voting, Conditional Process Steps and Dynamic Assignments in Aras

June 5, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should support conditional process steps, time out, alternate approvers, delegate to, and majority rules voting and other sophisticated scenarios in the workflows.

Peter Schroer:

The Aras Workflow service is a full-featured enterprise class business process management (BPM) engine that is highly scalable and secure.

Alternates, delegates, pooled resources, dynamic assignments, voting schemes (linear, weighted, majority, veto), escalation upon timeout and other capabilities are all standard features in the Aras Innovator platform.

The default Out-of-the-Box processes that come with the downloaded version of Aras Innovator are the ISO, PMI and CMII standard processes.

Your PLM administrator has secure access to customize any of the out-of-the-box workflows or create all new BPM workflows without complex programming using the drag-and-drop Solution Studio.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras‘ and ‘Change Process Definition, SOA Workflow Service and Integration in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’.

Using PLM Change Control Workflows to Manage the PLM System’s Own Definition in Aras

June 4, 2012

MarcL: The PLM solution should be able to have workflows managed by the system itself as objects that can be placed under change control and can be assigned versions.

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator’s Workflow Maps (e.g. Aras term for the business process definition) are Item Types (e.g. business object) in the PLM system.

As such they have permissions, versions, and can be controlled by their own change approval workflow.   In this way, the PLM is used to control its own internal system definition of processes.

This style of change management for the PLM system can also be applied to Forms, Lifecycles, business rules, etc.

NOTE:  while Aras can be used to control its own system/process definition,  and changes can be made in real-time by real-people,  this is not the recommended best practice after the system Go-Live to production.

At one point in the evolution of a PLM deployment the end-users are thrilled that PLM change requests (add a field, change the form, etc) are made in real-time as fast as they ask for the changes.

Later though, if the form layout continues to change in real-time when they are using the system,  the video arcade effect of the moving buttons will affect productivity.

The recommended best practice after Go-Live is to instantiate three instances of the PLM solution;  Development, Test, and Production.

All model changes made using the Solution Studio drag-and-drop design tools, can be exported as XML Packages, and easily moved between Aras Innovator instances (this is also how we synchronize federated networks of separate Aras Innovator instances).

Normal practice is to move multiple Packages from development to Test for integration testing, and then at defined intervals, move the tested Packages into the Production environment for rollout.

We provide training on how to tailor, customize and manage Aras Innovator’s workflows and business items.

For additional information see ‘PLM Solution Tailoring and Customization by End Users in Aras’ and ‘Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras’.

BPM Workflow Serial & Parallel Paths and Modeling to Customize and Extend PLM in Aras

May 31, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should support custom workflow processes with the steps in the flow being sequential and / or parallel in the same process. There must be tools provided to support changes and customization of the processes as well.

Peter Schroer:

Aras PLM Software Simple DCO Workflow Process

Simple Out-of-the-Box DCO Workflow Process in Aras Innovator

The Aras Innovator platform a pure Web services architecture, where everything is a service.

It includes a Workflow service which is effectively a robust, general-purpose BPM (business process management) capability instead of a hard-coded engineering change workflow module like other PLM systems.

The Aras Workflow service supports multi-step processes, with combinations of serial and parallel activities, branching, looping, dynamically assigned roles based on business rules, and is inherently integrated with all of the other functionality in our PLM solutions.

XEROX Aras Custom PLM Software Global Change Process

XEROX’s Custom Global Change Workflow Process in Aras Innovator

The BPM capabilities are very robust and scalable.   A workflow process can be really simple, like start-action-end,         or very complex with multiple parallel paths, conditional business rules, weighted voting and integrations to SAP or other legacy systems.

In fact, Aras Innovator’s workflows can be used as part of the complete PLM suite or in a federated approach to provide only the new functionality needed on top of and integrated with existing systems.  In this way, you can modernize and add secure Web capabilities to older systems like PDMs, ERPs, etc.

Workflows can be customized and extended or you can create entirely new workflow processes from scratch by Modeling them in Aras Innovator’s browser-based graphical Solution Studio (e.g. without complex programming).

Aras PLM Software Solution Studio Workflow Customize

Example of Run-Time Workflow Modification using Solution Studio in a Dev Instance of Aras

You can customize the workflow’s process steps, change the schema, add business rules and make modifications    and you are doing it in Real-Time.

When you Save, the changes are instantly propagated and the next time an instance of the process is initiated it will include the changes.

Of course we strongly recommend the best practice of having separate environments for dev, test/staging and production. Moving customizations from instance to instance only takes a couple of minutes.

Aras is unique with the technology to allow real-time process and data model changes, because of our model-based architecture. 

You will be trained to use the integrated Solution Studio for drag-and-drop designing and modifying of workflow processes (similar UI to Visio, except it’s the actual running system).

For more info on these capabilities see ‘Change Process Definition, SOA Workflow Service and Integration in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’ or ‘Business Process‘.

PLM Solution Tailoring and Customization by End Users in Aras

May 29, 2012

MarcL: PLM solution should support tailoring, configuring and customizing by approved users for specific forms and workflows. Any changes to standard objects should be capable of being monitored and audit trails maintained with notification of changes to designated personnel.

Peter Schroer:

In Aras Innovator’s Model-based engine, access to modify the model (data dictionary, meta-data, etc) is controlled by the same authentication and access control rights as the end-user permissions.

The Aras Innovator PLM platform uses its own security model, to control its customization and administration.

Your company can choose which components of the “Model” (i.e. your company’s PLM solutions) to allow certain groups/departments of users to edit and maintain.

IT or app dev can maintain the entire PLM system or you can choose to delegate portions out to certain end users while keeping control over other parts of the system.

Delegation of the administration for Form Layouts, Workflow Processes, Project Templates, Lifecycle States and other business items are commonly moved out of IT to the power users that are process owners or functional managers with responsibility for process definition.

While responsibility for integrations and more complex system functions is kept under IT’s control.

This division of labor makes administration of a large deployment scope more manageable and creates local “ownership” by end users which encourages adoption and simplifies IT’s help desk duties as well.

Monitoring or oversight of changes made and audit trails is standard Aras Innovator functionality.

All changes made by end users are supportable and upgradable without impacting the customizations.

We provide training for you and your end users on how to tailor, configure and customize Aras Innovator, and you Do Not need to be a programmer or in IT to learn how to do it.

For additional information see ‘Making PLM Forms Look Exactly Like Existing Paper or Legacy Forms with Aras’ and ‘Lifecycle, Workflow and Other Types of Process Management in Aras’.

Electronic Signatures, Workflows, Lifecycles and Security in Aras

May 24, 2012

MarcL: PLM solutions should provide a secure way for electronic sign-off of controlled Parts, CAD documents, specifications and other objects. Please describe how access controls and permissions are combined with meta-data attributes, prevention of modification of released data objects, and other measures, to provide electronic sign-off.

Peter Schroer:

All business objects (Items) within the Aras Innovator platform are controlled by an access rights management service, that complies with the security requirements of our US Gov’t and defense industry customers for “need-to-know” level security.

The security model can be used at the object instance paired with individual user level (only Bob can see Spec#001),  or for simpler administration,  hierarchical groups and roles can be defined which are expressed as patterns that are applied to sets of business objects  (anyone on the Electronics team can see the design files created for the EX-001 new product). Digital rights management (DRM) on the actual files can also be included.

Once the Lifecycle of an Item has advanced to the designated state, the access rights to the Item automatically switch to a Read-only level (normally at Release, but can be anything you specify), that object is completely protected against modifications.

The out-of-the-box CMII compliant processes use the Aras Workflow services with electronic signatures to capture the authorization and approvals.

Once the Workflow has secured the correct votes with signatures,  it automatically promotes the Lifecycle status of the Item to Released (which in turns locks down the access rights).

Approval mechanisms, electronic signatures (passwords and 2nd level passwords or e-signatures), audit trails, and notifications are all standard out-of-the-box capabilities within Aras Innovator.

Aras has built-in capabilities to satisfy regulatory compliance requirements for e-signature such as 21 CFR Part 11 in the Medical Device industry (these settings can be turned on/off of course).

We provide training on how to set-up, administer and customize these capabilities as well.

For additional information on these capabilities see ‘Security Permissions & Access Controls in Aras’ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Lifecycle’ and ‘Security’.

Making PLM Forms Look Exactly Like Existing Paper or Legacy Forms with Aras

May 23, 2012

MarcL: Form creation and management tools should be available to design custom electronic versions of a company’s specific forms so they look & work like existing paper-based forms or legacy systems that are being replaced.

Peter Schroer:

The Aras Innovator platform is unique among enterprise PLM systems due to the powerful flexibility of the Model-based SOA framework.

A very simple, graphical, drag-and-drop user interface is included in the Aras Innovator solution studio to support the layout of Forms and other business objects.

Since the resulting forms are DHTML  (dynamic HTML),  it is possible to use any HTML features and functions in the forms,        allowing unlimited artistic freedom to re-create existing legacy screens or paper forms exactly the way they look and function today.

MOST IMPORTANT,  these changes can be made in real-time by actual users (with the right permissions) instead of a large IT exercise,  and all changes that are made are supportable and upgradeable.

Your personnel will be trained on how to create, modify and support unlimited company specific forms,  and all this customization work will be upgraded by Aras to future versions of Aras Innovator as part of a standard Aras subscription package.

For additional information on these capabilities see posts tagged ‘Customize’ and ‘Upgrade’.

Aras PLM Software Solution Studio Form Editing

Screenshot example of Form editing in drag & drop Solution Studio – can layout Aras Forms exactly like your company’s existing Forms


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