Posts Tagged ‘business process’

PLM Solutions, Openness and the Aras Business Model

September 12, 2012

MarcL: Aside from the Aras technology, maybe you can explain a bit more about the Aras business model and the Aras solution suite?

Peter Schroer:

Peter Schroer Aras CEO

Peter Schroer, Aras CEO & Founder

In 2007, Aras took a unique position in the PLM market by adopting an open source business model.   What we’re doing is bringing a Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) business format to the PLM market: get rid of the license costs and just offer enterprise subscriptions. It’s a big advantage for your company for a number of reasons:

Subscription-only gets rid of the big up-front PLM license cost (capex),

It reduces your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which means you get a greater ROI and achieve it faster, and

It’s a more balanced relationship where you’re not forced to take on disproportionate risk before you even start implementing.

How we make money

Aras distributes its software without license fees, and earns revenues from optional subscription packages that are similar to the maintenance contracts required by other enterprise software products except with significantly more benefits such as free upgrade services no matter how much you customize – I don’t know any other enterprise software companies that are doing this… it’s a major benefit for customers and commitment on our part.

The Aras subscription gets rid of PLM user and module license fees reducing the risk of acquiring an enterprise PLM system,       and it provides us/Aras with a profitable recurring revenue model.

What we provide OOTB

We have developed a number of solutions ourselves which are included in the initial download of Aras Innovator. These make up our out-of-the-box PLM solution suite.   Our OOTB solutions are similar in scope, scale and depth to the OOTB solutions that come with a Windchill or MatrixOne.  However, our PLM solutions are aligned tightly with industry standards such as ISO, PMI, and CMII. If these standards fit your company’s way of doing business, then the Aras is an “install this morning and start using this afternoon” PLM system.

How we offer more

The corporate community of companies that run Aras, users and partners, what we call the Aras community, has also developed dozens of other solutions on the same Aras Innovator platform framework, and your company is able to take advantage of these solutions for new PLM innovations, best practices and value added enhancements. These are available on the Aras project site if they are open source or from an Aras ISV partner if they are commercial solutions (meaning apps you have to pay for).

Why this all matters to you

The purpose of the Aras project site is to provide an online area where user-driven innovation can occur. We are creating an environment where companies like yours can post ideas, share best practices and take action to transform your business.

We are encouraging secure, self-sufficient collaborative development on PLM solutions because we believe that the next generation of innovation in PLM will come from people like you at the millions of companies around the world that use PLM software every day.

We also believe that your corporate processes are unique and changing constantly thru continuous improvement. And it’s those special practices that make your company competitive. Your company has to be in control of your own destiny and that’s what we are offering.

At the end of the day, what we’re doing is providing your business with a whole series of OOTB PLM solutions on an advanced PLM platform and we use a subscription-only format that’s more cost effective. And we’ve made it highly scalable, flexible and extensible so your company can innovate for new advantages over your competition… we think that just makes sense. In fact, we believe it’s a fundamental necessity and the future of global business.

For more info on this see Open PLM – The Future of Enterprise Product Lifecycle Management (free logon needed) and here’s some more about our commitment to an open business model and how Aras is Different or these videos from my presentation at the Aras ACE International conference.

Federation with ERP, PDM, Legacy Systems and Cloud-based data using Aras

June 20, 2012

MarcL: PLM solution must be capable of integrating with the ERP system so that data is available in PLM such as material costing, inventory on-hand, etc. Please describe how this is possible.

Peter Schroer:

Aras Innovator includes a standard service called Federation. This Web service can be used for integrations with legacy applications (called Federations) that expose attributes from the legacy system, such as Cost attributes in SAP, with the materials data stored in PLM.

For the end-users, they will see a single form, with data in the correct context that has all the information they need to perform a task (or workflow or report) without knowing the actual data storage location of those data.

This data does not need to be view-only, but can be editable as well. It is managed by the same need-to-know security permissions in Aras so the users have access to only the data they are authorized to see, add, update, etc.

Secure Federation capabilities in Aras are not limited to on-premise systems, and can include Cloud-based data sets as well like component databases, compliance validation and other data sets of authority in the Cloud.

The flexibility of the Aras Innovator PLM system even allows federation configurations in which all Part, Material and BOM data are authored in ERP, and PLM is just a viewing portal.

However, most companies prefer to develop parts, materials, cost models and other product data within the PLM solution, and after workflow review & approval, drive this cost data to the ERP once it becomes “Released”.

The same type of system Federation can be performed with legacy PDM / PLM systems in use in your company as well. This can be useful if existing PDM systems are in place at various sites for CAD management, although more robust PLM capabilities are needed for complicated processes like NPDI, enterprise change, supply chain, quality or outsourced manufacturing.

The “right” configuration depends on your organization, business practices, and the level of complexity of your products and development process.

Aras architects and certified partners can help you evaluate your company’s requirements during the initial phase of your deployment and recommend a configuration that is optimized for your company’s specific competitive practices.

We provide training on how to do federated integrations with other systems like ERP as well as how to administer these capabilities.

For more info on these capabilities see ‘Integration and Federation in the Enterprise with Aras’ and ‘ERP, Item Masters and Data Attribute Federation Between ERP-PLM in Aras‘ or check out the Posts Tagged ‘Integration’.

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’.


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