June 21, 2010
PTC Extends Windchill PLM with SharePoint
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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On June 7 PTC expanded Windchill, its family of PLM solutions, with the announcement of several new and enhanced solutions built on the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 collaboration platform.

  • Windchill PPMLink - A new program portfolio management solution that couples stage-gate methods with unique capabilities to aggregate program and product-related metrics, improving visibility and decision-making
  • Windchill SocialLink - A new solution utilizing social computing capabilities to bring the collective wisdom of communities to bear on product development challenges
  • Windchill Web Parts for SharePoint - An enhanced solution that consolidates critical information from Windchill and other enterprise systems for presentation in a familiar Microsoft SharePoint 2010 environment for easier, extended information access
  • Windchill ProductPoint - An enhanced solution, to address the specific CAD data management needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMB)
Prior to the launch of Microsoft SharePoint 2010, PTC was invited to participate in Microsoft Corp.'s Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for SharePoint 2010. This provided PTC early access to SharePoint 2010, and was established to yield benefits for product development organizations in the form of enhanced executive visibility, wider-information access, and improved team productivity. Through increased R&D investment and active participation in the SharePoint 2010 TAP, these new PTC solutions are being announced weeks after Microsoft's initial public release of SharePoint 2010.

“PTC believes in Microsoft's vision around the SharePoint 2010 business collaboration platform for the enterprise,” said Jared Spataro, director, SharePoint Product Management, Microsoft. “The potential for PTC to deliver great product development solutions for customers, based on the SharePoint platform is demonstrated by the early success of Windchill ProductPoint and the release of these new PTC solutions, offering significant value to manufacturing companies seeking to improve product development processes.”

Windchill PPMLink

Windchill PPMLink extends Microsoft's Enterprise Project Management capabilities with configurable stage and gate processes, and scorecards that aggregate traditional project management measurements with PLM-derived product attributes. Further, it allows each project team the freedom to choose its own solution for project management while facilitating comprehensive bottom-up metrics reporting.

In a December 2009 independent Forrester Research, Inc. report, “It's Time To Revisit Portfolio Management For Product Development,” Senior Analyst Roy C. Wildeman stated that “Across the product life cycle, few processes have as much impact on a company's product innovation efforts and financial performance as managing the R&D project pipeline and resulting new products.” He also stated in the report that “[PPM] applications can help clarify and align product development strategy with the core strategy of the business.”

Windchill Web Parts for SharePoint

Windchill Web Parts for SharePoint 2010 provides a single, consolidated view of product information by enabling SharePoint users to easily view, search, and edit Windchill data together with content from ERP, finance and other enterprise applications. Using Microsoft's Business Connectivity Services, Windchill Web Parts for SharePoint 2.0 offers new and enhanced capabilities that expand the current search, assignment, and executive reporting features and take full advantage of the SharePoint environment.

Windchill SocialLink

With Windchill ProductPoint 1.1 and Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0, PTC first brought social computing features into product development applications. Now, PTC is announcing its development of a dedicated solution, enabling companies of all sizes to realize the value of social product development. Windchill SocialLink will combine social computing enabled by Microsoft SharePoint 2010 with a rich knowledge of product data, and deliver a modern user experience, seamlessly accessible across all PTC solutions. Content tagging, filtering, and activity feeds will automatically disseminate relevant knowledge quickly to product communities and “communities of practices,” self-forming groups united by shared professional interests. Uncovering and utilizing the collective wisdom of the crowd will enable faster and more-effective decision-making.

Planned capabilities and associated benefits of this new solution include:
  • Community provisioning for information sharing and collective problem solving
  • Dissemination of relevant knowledge to community members intelligently extracted from product content and metadata housed in the Windchill PLM system by way of activity streams
  • Knowledge and expertise discovery, via personal profiles which are continuously updated based on PLM system usage
  • Modern, engaging user experience delivered via a social toolbar offering connectivity to all PTC product development solutions
Windchill ProductPoint

Windchill ProductPoint offers CAD vaulting, sharing, visualization, mark-up, and data reuse within heterogeneous environments, typical of SMB product organizations. Additionally, new data loading tools facilitate the direct migration of Pro/INTRALINK 3.x content, including as-stored configurations, metadata and full version history, into Windchill ProductPoint.

“By extending SharePoint 2010, Windchill enables everyone -- design engineers, program managers, and top executives-- to participate in the product development process in a meaningful way through a familiar platform,” said Brian Shepherd, executive vice president, product development, PTC. “This results in better, faster decision-making, which can ultimately drive a sustained competitive advantage for our customers.”

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

We just returned from the PTC/USER event. PTC demonstrated these SharePoint solutions and several other things at the PTC/USER World Event 2010, June 6-9 in Orlando, FL. PTC said it expects these and other solutions will be available later this year. While the Windchill/SharePoint announcements were definitely significant, a number of other things were introduced and discussed at PTC/USER, as well.

The company is undergoing a massive transition on several levels and most of the concerns and complaints we had experienced in the past with the company and its products, services, and direction are being addressed in a positive way.

First of all, this was the first major event where PTC's new president and CEO, Jim Heppelmann (effective October 1, 2010) took center stage as the new leader going forward. Heppelmann is succeeding Dick Harrison, the company's current Chairman and CEO, and will report directly to the Board. I really think that Heppelmann at the helm is a good thing because he is a “product guy” with an engaging personality (no BS), as well as a good perception and attitude toward his customers. Before leaving the stage, however, Harrison said that PTC estimates a 38% increase this fiscal year in software licenses across the board - CAD (Pro/ENGINEER), PLM (Windchill), etc. On the whole, though, it looks as if PTC is working to achieve a 50/50 balanced split on CAD and PLM, and not favoring one over the other like a swinging pendulum, as has been the case the past several years.

Speaking of attitude, that's another big change company-wide that I experienced. Whereas before, PTC had a transactional, tactical approach with customers; this attitude and way of doing business has evolved to more of a strategic, partnership relationship. The former arrogant attitude and stance has been replaced by one of confidence. All good things when trying to win the hearts, minds, and budgets of current and prospective customers. Heppelmann said that going forward, “Winning the big relationship is more important than just winning the big deal.”

Heppelmann said that PTC will continue to help customers with software and services for product development, as well as process improvement. It is this process aspect that he says distinguishes PTC from the competition, whom he said have a narrower product focus. He also said that there is a continuing and pressing need for new fundamental design and engineering approaches - changing and improving such things as the UI on software products is incremental, not monumental.

On the PLM front, Heppelmann said that he believed for investment and ROI considerations, PLM has significant advantages of ERP systems. In fact, he said, “PLM has gotten as big and strategic as ERP.” PLM is obviously one of the big dogs at PTC, especially knowing that the company (by its own admission) has spent more than $100,000,000 on Windchill R&D in a little over a decade since acquiring it.

On the CAD side, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire was not really discussed all that much. However, something big seems to be in the works. Known now only as Project Lightning it is PTC's self-proclaimed “vision and strategy for the next 20 years of mechanical CAD. Without offering any details, it will supposedly allow a large potential user base with 2D and/or 3D direct and/or 3D parametric capabilities. Again, no details were given except that Project Lightning will provide choice and “the right tool for a given task and user.” Project Lightning will be unveiled on October 28, 2010 in some sort of virtual event. What it will be is unknown; what it might be is intriguing.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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