PLM, SharePoint and ProductPoint Lessons

PLM, SharePoint and ProductPoint Lessons

I’m following SharePoint and PLM. One of point of my interest was to analyze how Microsoft SharePoint can be used in PDM/PLM as a technological platform and business driver. Going back in 2009, I posted SharePoint PLM Paradox?. The potential of SharePoint was promising. The potential realization of this business opportunity for PLM companies was interesting.

SharePoint: Shifting Gears

I was watching SharePoint development for the last few years. I’ve seen the highest level of excitement related to SharePoint 2007. Technology was okay. SharePoint huge success came from free distribution of WSS (Windows SharePoint Services). I’ve seen many companies jumping onto SharePoint opportunity to solve their problems in collaboration, files sharing and portal solution. Coming to 2010-2011, I heard a different perception with regards to SharePoint. I posted – PLM SharePoint: Silver Bullet of Fierce Criticism? The most visible piece of the conclusion was related to heavy dependencies of SharePoint development projects on consulting and services during the deployment and operation.

What is the point of  Windchill Product Point?

Few days I discovered the following note in Pro-Engineer forum related to PTC and ProductPoint. Navigate your browser to this link. It was available at the time I wrote this post. According to the information on this forum and PTC ProductPoint Retirement FAQ – PTC is retiring Windchill ProductPoint and providing current customers with the opportunity to upgrade their Windchill ProductPoint licenses to Windchill PDMLink for no additional charge through December 31, 2012. This information made me think about potential lessons PLM industry can learn from trying to combine PLM and SharePoint in a single product.

These are my initial 5 points:

1. SharePoint is a technological platform that requires implementation and services. To use it for small manufacturing companies can be dangerous and depends on deployment configuration can be problematic.

2. Microsoft business interest is to deploy SharePoint to bigger companies, and it can be asymmetric with the interest of PLM companies to solve PLM SMB problem using SharePoint.

3. There are alternative ways to solve PLM usability problems rather than re-use SharePoint UI patterns. PTC just released new version of Windchill (10.0), which probably delivers better user experience.

4. Maintenance of multiple PLM products is probably way too complicated.

5. PLM for SMB is probably not only about better user experience and subset of functionality.

Just my thoughts… I’m looking forward to discussing these lessons learned with you and to know what is your take? Based on the conversation I hope to have a better understanding of what can be a potential future of SharePoint and PLM development.

Best, Oleg


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  • David Chadwick

    Your tracking of the developing PLM/SharePoint story has been very perceptive – here are some of my thoughts on the issues you are highlighting:

    For most SMBs I dont think SharePoint is dangerous – they have it already as part of Windows Server – and implementing a focused PDM solution on top is straightforward in my experience.

    Agree that Microsoft is more focused on promoting the higher versions of SharePoint (Server, Enterprise) – but that shouldnt hold SMBs back from taking advantage of PDM solutions that build successfully on the Foundation version

    Addressing usability can be done combining SharePoint capabilites where it is strong – for example document and task management – with PLM specific solutions in areas such as product structure and visualisation

    I hate to describe one on our products as a “tortoise” but it might just fit for our SharePoint based Solid Edge Insight -we have a ten year history of releasing this with Solid Edge and have exciting plans for the future – I think our customers would agree that our “tortoise” has been a good bet and ignoring the “hares” has been validated

  • beyondplm

    David, Thanks for the commenting. I’ve got a small visibility of SolidEdge Insight. I thought the product was released time ago and Velocity (incl. TeamCenter Express) actually replaced him in the portfolio… But, maybe I’m wrong. Can you shed some lights on this? Tnx, Oleg

  • DavidChadwick

    Solid Edge Insight has always been part of the Velocity Portfolio – but I am not surprised by you commenting on the low visibilty as we have not marketed it as actively as we could have. Insight is also very focused on providing an excellent design data management solution for Solid Edge users whereas Teamcenter Express has wider multi-CAD capabilities. Going forward our SMB customers will continue to have a choice of SharePoint based or Teamcenter based solutions. Regarding your query on maintaining multiple PLM products of course this is an issue but I feel more in the area of positioning the best product to meet a customers needs – of course we reuse a lot of code between the two solutions.

  • beyondplm

    David, thanks for the clarification.

  • christian barr

    Hi Oleg, thanks for your perspective here on SharePoint and PLM. Very insightful indeed.
    PTC continues to see value – and therefore continued investment – in the proliferation of SharePoint in the product development enterprise. It’s a good platform for delivering PLM and supporting PLM process needs. But as a pure PDM platform (via Windchill ProductPoint), the Windchill 10.0 release has eclipsed it for SMBs, not just for the nice new easy UI, but b/c many of these customers have real needs – like multi-CAD and change management – that can be met with Windchill PDMLink.
    I look forward to chatting more on this topic in June when we see you at PlanetPTC Live.

  • beyondplm

    Christian, Thanks for your comment! The story of SharePoint is indeed interesting. I think, it was (and still is) a very insightful product for Microsoft, which is trying to shape their post-consumer market story. I’m looking forward to meeting you in June. Best, Oleg

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