Don't Be Scared. It's Just PLM. Part V: Rapid Start vs. Teamcenter, implementation and The Cloud

Acuity Account Executive, Chris Trina sat down with our resident Teamcenter guru and Senior Application Engineer, Pat Kennedy recently for a little Q&A/Fireside Chat on the intrinsic value of a quality PLM system. Here is the final installment!

Click here for Part I Part II, Part III & Part IV.

CHRIS: So the big questions I get are: What should people start with? Teamcenter or Teamcenter Rapid Start? And if it’s Rapid Start, how do they eventually grow to full PLM? What does that take? Do they have to completely uninstall Rapid Start and then re-install full Teamcenter? How do you bridge the gap between the two? 

PAT: Well, in fact now, there isn't a gap. We like to say that Rapid Start is Teamcenter with this extra set of preferences and so on that have been pre-packaged on top of it, and that’s not an exaggeration. It really is Teamcenter. I can take an out-of-the-box  Teamcenter  installation and make it look and work exactly like Rapid Start, just by doing the things we would do for a great big company. Because great big companies already have PLM and if they switch to a new PLM  system  or at least they already have something, for example, a homegrown PLM, those people already know what they want and to them they will look at Rapid Start and think  Oh yeah, that’s nice, but we already know what we want and it’s not that. So for them, they will buy,  just the base Teamcenter and then we will build out for them what they already know that they want. 


But you know most companies, especially young companies, companies that have not had PDM of any kind yet, they actually don't know what they want. They know that they need to solve these problems and they know that they need to be able to formalize a release process. That's what Rapid Start is perfect for because it's giving them this kind of pre-configured Teamcenter. 


I think that’s a pretty good terminology for it because it's as if someone like me came in and made all of these little tweaks for them so that they could manage all of their CAD data from DAY ONE without any trouble. That’s what Rapid Start gets them. It's a great starting point and it's not going to limit them because we have different Teamcenter modules and different add-ons that work with Rapid Start, but not everything is in there. What if they want something that's not on that list?

Okay, it's easy, we go in there and we run this routine. We use the same software that we use for patching, for adding modules into Teamcenter. It's the same software that we use to, in essence, change Rapid Start so it's not limited anymore. It's easier than an upgrade. It’s easier than a patch.And so, at that point, they are not limited anymore.

They have one decision to make and it’s: Do you want to keep all the bells and whistles of Rapid Start (because there are some nice little extras that they fit in there just to make it easy to use)? Do you want to see just those things, or do you want to see all of Teamcenter?  


Frankly, you know when you look at Rapid Start and go thru the menus and the icons and stuff and compare it to Teamcenter, Rapid Start has much shorter menus, a lot fewer choices and that's by design. We want it to be easy for people to learn and use. What happens if they can’t find the choice in the menus that they want? Well, that's because we hid it.

So when you go in there and kind of flip the switch, so to speak, so it's not just limited to Rapid Start anymore, you have to make the decision: Okay are you going to leave  just the menus from the Rapid Start list or are you going to give them the full boat--everything. And basically, that's it. That's the choice. 


CHRIS: And then they're off and running and can add anything that they want... 


PAT: And yet they still have what they bought with Rapid Start, which is the workflows and the configuration. Things like that, all those myriad settings that we would have had to do by hand, those are already set for you. You don't have to redo all of that just because you switched from Rapid Start to full Teamcenter. Those are still there. You don't lose that.  


CHRIS: Makes sense, right? 


PAT: Yes, there's no roadblock.  


CHRIS: It's so easy. It really is when you lay it out the way that you just did, it makes you think: how do people function without it? I guess maybe it's just a you-don't-know-what-you're-missing-until-you-try-it, situation with Teamcenter. All the while you've been living in a cave, sharing files on a File share site and maybe you've gotten by, but once you see what's really out there -- what you actually can do, -- your stress level would probably go way down because you’re not constantly juggling and wondering.  


PAT: I actually feel sorry for people who have to try to go through a product development process or even a release process, without some kind of PLM system to help them through the way. How do you get everybody on the same page? Oh my gosh! Meeting after meeting after meeting and all the emails and Skypes and just trying to get everyone on the same page... What a hassle! That's got to be the most inefficient thing I can imagine. Everybody’s got a full plate. Everybody has lots of work to do, they don't have time for three more meetings today. If you don't have to have  meetings you can put your time into your information, into the system and then the system automatically pings the next person. That ping says: Okay, here are the files, take a look at them. Here are your instructions on what you need. Give your thumbs up or thumbs down. If you give your thumbs down, give your reason why so that when we route this back to "Joe" he knows that you found a problem, and this is what it is.  


That's what workflows do for you. That's what is part of PLM’s job. To be that system that's making sure that everyone is on the same page instead of having to have some poor soul who is having to get on the phone, rattle everybody's cage and make sure they do this or do that. Oh my gosh. That would be so hard. 


CHRIS: I look at our file sharing system, and we don't even make anything here, we just have quotes and PO's  floating around but when you go into our file sharing system it can be a mess. Sometimes I go in there and I’m wondering: is this the most recent, is this the most up to date quote on this project?  Even for what little we have to manage, using a system like that is a struggle. I can’t imagine if we actually were building something. 


PAT: Sure, so for like a quote, the file you're going to send to a customer is probably a PDF and the name of the file is going to be the quote number or something like that, but there's so much more information that you really need in order to find that quote 6 months or 3 years from now. You're going to know other things, you're not going to know the quote number. You're going to know the customer, you’re going to know what product you were quoting them or you're going to have an idea of maybe the time frame. None of that is in the file name. 

But you know, good systems, like PLM systems keep track of all of that stuff so you can search on all or any of those terms in order to find what you need. So when you roll out Sharepoint it's kind of a blank sheet. It keeps track of who put the file in there and when. And it knows what kind of file it was. It knows the difference between a word file and a PDF. It's kind of a dumbed down PDM system and really, maybe not even that to tell you the truth.

This blank sheet, is hard to use and that’s why there are so many Sharepoint consultants out there that go ahead and tweak it so that it makes it easier for people to search on other things like: What product does this quote apply to? What customer is this for? Which version of the quote? Ultimately, people are going to say well, we are okay on this but not on that, and then you have to regenerate the quote. Are you going to give it a different quote number? Probably a different version of the same quote number.

So, there you're talking about a need for version control. Consultants get paid pretty serious money to go in and customize Sharepoint to do that. This is why we have Rapid Start, it does those same kinds of things in Teamcenter so it's ready to go. You don't have to pay a consultant to come in here and do all that tweaking. It's already there. 


"That ping says: Okay, here are the files, take a look at them. Here are your instructions on what you need. Give your thumbs up or thumbs down. If you give your thumbs down, give your reason why so that when we route this back to "Joe" he knows that you found a problem, and this is what it is. "

Patrick Kennedy, Senior Application Engineer

CHRIS: It's so good! Those are the big ones that are always brought up initially. Version/revision control, part numbering and signing off on the workflows. That seems like the core of Teamcenter and Rapid Start. 


PAT: Well, and hopefully, it’s the core of what people need to accomplish. But there are some other things that also come up. A lot of times people need to get to their data when they're on the road. At that point then you need to put this PLM system in a place where everyone can get to it. There's many ways of doing that. With our existing customers, who have Teamcenter in-house, well then, each one of their people on the road can connect their laptop back to the company network through a VPN and wherever they are, they have connection to Teamcenter and the data that it contains.

For companies that are purposely dispersed--I mean you think of some companies that are just a tiny little office and most people are working from their homes or are constantly out on the road-- well at that point, then you really need to start looking at the cloud. 


If everybody is working remotely, there's really no true central office, then the common denominator for everybody is putting it out on the Internet. That's why the cloud exists. And we have answers for that as well.  


A couple of different ways of doing it: If a company already has their own Cloud infrastructure, we can add Teamcenter to that. If they want us to create that for them we can work with cloud experts to build that out.

What has kind of started and is going to rapidly increase also is what Siemens themselves are doing. They have worked with a very large Amazon 3rd party, who are real experts in their field, to build out this very big cloud environment of Teamcenter Rapid Start that people can get access to just by paying an annual subscription fee and have their data in there with state-of-the-art security, and back up and disaster recovery and replication over multiple zones and regions. It doesn't matter where you are, in the world, you can get to your data.  


CHRIS: That's the future. 


PAT: A lot of companies are purposely distributed. You see a lot of startups that way. I can imagine, really any company where they're not going to do their own manufacturing, could easily fall into that bucket, if you will. I mention manufacturing because, some companies do build their own products, actually many companies build their own products because if they do, then they don't have to pay a profit margin to some other company.

You know those outside manufacturing companies, they have to make a profit. So, at some point, every company that produces something has to decide,  are we going to start building that in house or not. Do we want that profit that they are making? Do we want to bring that in house? 


Of course, that involves effort and risk and all of that. They have to make that decision. If they decide yes, then they're not only bringing in a whole lot of machinery, they're also bringing in a whole lot of people into a single location--usually a single location, at least with the smaller companies we are talking about.

Growing companies, well that becomes kind of a central office automatically, doesn't it? Yeah and so, if a small growing company is already to that point and they're coming to us for PLM, that could be the perfect place to install Teamcenter. If not, the cloud is going to do just fine for them. 


CHRIS: This all makes perfect sense. Thanks Pat. Really enlightening, actually. 


PAT: So what other things are people saying they need to get done??? 


CHRIS: Ahhhhhhh… let me think about it while I eat my lunch.... 


PAT: I’m here if you think of anything!

Click here for Part I Part II, Part III & Part IV.

Lindsay Trina

Siemens PLM
Rapid Start
the cloud