The effectiveness of your Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution and its ability to manage the information associated with the entire lifecycle of a product from conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal, can be the difference between costly inefficiency and profitable efficiency. However, the complexity and cost associated with many traditional PLM solutions often puts these solutions out of reach of most small and mid-size companies. That’s why the on-demand PLM solution from Arena deserves due consideration from any product manufacturer looking to increase their efficiency and productivity and why sourcing and procurement professionals should be familiar with it, and its benefits, since the greatest cost reductions result when sourcing is involved in product development from day one.
Arena, founded in 2000 by ex-manufacturing executives who needed an easy to use, affordable, and quick-to-implement PLM solution that could take advantage of the internet as a delivery mechanism to allow for collaboration both within and beyond their four walls, is different from traditional PLM providers in that it is easy to implement, easier to use, and accessible to all of your partners, to whatever extent you want it to be.
Whereas a typical behind-the-firewall PLM solution is often challenging even for trained power-users, as expensive as SAP (comparative speaking), and significantly complex and time-consuming to implement (with implementation and configuration cycles of six months to two years not uncommon – and sometimes only for basic functionality), small to mid-size users of Arena can often be up and running in a day, with the most complex implementation maxing out at about a month.
Arena also has all the traditional benefits of an on-demand solution – including no large up front cash outlay, economies of scale, free upgrades, rapid responsiveness, and collaboration in addition to an ultra-configurable fine-grained security model, cirriculum-based on-demand training, and multiple role support to allow you to buy just the capabilities you need for each user. This makes the application very secure as you can control, right down to the domain and IP address, who has access to what and when the information expires and ultra-deletes, very useable as a user can access just the training resources she needs when she needs them, and makes the application very affordable as a company only has to pay for full access for the users that need it.
Furthermore, Arena is a very stable company with over 300 customers from garage shop operations all the way up to entire divisions of companies like Xerox. Many of these companies use the application across departments and with suppliers and partners distributed all over the globe. And when you factor in that they do a quarterly analysis on application usage on a customer-by-customer basis to determine not only what customers are using what features but what customers are not using the capabilities they paid for, so that they can contact those customers and find out what they need to improve either in the application, the training materials, or the customer support, you know that they’re not going anywhere.
Arena is particularly suited to the mid-market that they’re focussed on. Their on-demand model allows them to offer a flexible pricing model that can support three guys in a garage all the way up to large mid-market companies and their focus on the Product Information Management (PIM) aspect of PLM allows them to offer a PLM for mere mortals solution that anyone can (learn to) use. So if your mid-market company is looking for a PLM solution, make sure that the candidate solutions are those that can also be used by sourcing professionals like you and consider pushing to have Arena added to that list. After all, when it comes to on-demand, there just aren’t that many PLM providers, and fewer still that built their solution on-demand from the ground up. In the former category, I believe there’s PTC’s Windchill solution, which is resold by IBM, and Oracle‘s hosted Agile solution (which isn’t really true SaaS), but in the latter category, and I’ll admit I’m not an expert in the PLM space, I don’t know of any other on-demand PLM solutions that were built to be on-demand SaaS from the ground up.