Connecting Experts to Get Products to Market Faster

Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink provides social computing capabilities with full connectivity to the product data in Arbortext PDMLink.

Updated 2/3/11: SocialLink is only available in the full Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill)

For many companies, the product development process now crosses organizational and national boundaries, making it more difficult than ever for team members to interact. Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink meets these challenges by combining social computing with rich product content from Arbortext PDMLink, to build powerful communities of innovators. Built upon Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink creates a place for product teams to engage within product and practice communities:

  • Create product and practice communities that capture and foster collaboration across the product development organization
  • Organize information based on product content from Arbortext PDMLink, improving relevance for community members
  • Deliver the right content to the right stakeholders in the right context

Here’s the idea:

We all know that collaboration is critical to the product development process. Products are becoming more complex, so development teams have to keep pace by bringing on more types of specialists. How can product development team members leverage the capabilities of experts from throughout the far corners of the extended enterprise to solve problems without delays?

Typically, you start by looking inside your team for the expertise needed to overcome these challenges. But in the common situation when you come up short, you’re faced with a difficult challenge.

It may be very difficult to locate an expert with precisely the credentials needed to tackle the problem at hand among the many technical people in the organization. The expert’s title or the specific project that the expert is assigned to might give little clue to whether he or she has the expertise needed to help solve the current problem. It may take a considerable amount of time for emails and phone calls to identify the right person. Even once the right expert is located, they will probably be far from the team that needs assistance, making it difficult to bring their skills to bear on the problem.

Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink addresses these issues by delivering powerful social computing tools that can improve product development team interaction throughout the product development lifecycle. SocialLink allows you to associate product data to communities and collaborative activities. Product designers and engineers can now engage one another in real time within the Arbortext PDMLink environment to ask questions, share information, solve problems and stay in touch with their colleagues.

Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink makes it much easier to locate experts throughout the organization. Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink includes Communities of Practice that can be established and organized by people with shared professional interests, such as plastics or Cloud Computing or DITA. Or, you can create communities that are linked to specific products in Arbortext PDMLink. Product developers can create profiles that provide a detailed description of their areas of expertise and experience. These skilled professionals can contribute knowledge by writing posts to their blog in the context of the product community or community of practice that technical writers can leverage when writing initial product documentation.

A product development team member trying to solve a problem can search for someone with the right expertise by searching profiles and blog posts. The team can post a question to a related practice or product community. Team members can automatically receive notifications of answers to their question, new posts that match a search query or other items of interest. Alerts can be received via the Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink activity feed, emails or toaster pop-ups in the user’s desktop environment.

Once a virtual team is assembled, real-time conferencing makes it possible to begin work immediately on solving the problem at hand. As each member of the virtual team makes comments or adds information, the response immediately appears in Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink. The association within product data dramatically improves the collaborative process. For example, a team member can link to a component when posting a question.

Imagine that one of your technical writers is developing the content for a new interface and wants to make sure that the actions they’re describing match what engineering has been implementing. The writer has never documented this kind of behavior before and would rather have someone with more experience involved to make sure the assumptions so far are correct. The project engineer that the writer would usually go to, isn’t available, so the writer posts a rendering of the proposed text on the UI Community of Practice to solicit input.

A engineer, with relevant experience, working late in Germany receives notification of the question and immediately responds and suggests a change in the text that should improve readability based on assumptions that can be expected by the highly-technical audience. The technical writer immediately messages a senior writer and an editor and asks them to join the conference to get their feedback on the readability of the proposed text change. The team members each provide comments and within a few minutes everyone agrees on a new text that resolves the technical and issue while meeting readability and usability constraints and avoiding a cost increase due to publication and translation later on.

Arbortext PDMLink (Windchill) SocialLink provides social computing capabilities such as microblogging, discussion forums and real-time activity feeds with full connectivity to the product data in Arbortext PDMLink. It enables product development team members to discover experts within the organization while providing a channel for real-time communications that solves problems faster than ever before. The result is a substantial acceleration and improvement to the product development process.

Arbortext Content Manager Web Parts for Sharepoint

Arbortext Content Manager Web Parts for SharePoint seamlessly integrates Arbortext Content Manager (aka Windchill) with Sharepoint.

Arbortext Content Manager Web Parts for SharePoint seamlessly integrates Arbortext Content Manager (aka Windchill) with Sharepoint. The integration allows you to deliver content that exists inside ACM to the rest of the enterprise.

ACM Web Parts for SharePoint gives you the power of a “single source of truth”, a master data management system with the ease-of-use and familiar Microsoft environment that SharePoint provides. Your staff is more productive because they can find the right content, at the right time, when they need it, the way they need it.

ACM Web Parts for SharePoint has several key features:

  • It provides views and access to the information contained within the master data management repository, including business reports and metrics, 3D reports on assembly and products status, document libraries, images, task lists, etc.
  • It gives you access to perform ad-hoc searches to quickly find or access essential content that lives in Windchill or SharePoint
  • It gives you access to SharePoint’s native calendars, wikis, and discussion forums that enable collaboration among users and associates that content back to the related content inside ACM.
  • It can be combined with other web parts to capture data from additional enterprise systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), or manufacturing execution systems (MES). As with other web parts, you can include ACM information into your comprehensive dashboard view of the business.

ACM Web Parts for SharePoint 2.0 is supported by Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and takes advantage of the most advanced capabilities of SharePoint to improve the user experience.

  • Search results aggregate all known ACM and SharePoint content
  • Search results include visualization-rich results, such as icons, images, and fly-out detail panels
  • Search results include SharePoint metadata such as tagging and rating of product content from key contributors.

Note: For traditional engineering groups who use the other PTC products, ACM-specific web parts include a 3D Creo Elements/View image viewer, a 3D Creo Elements/View report in which parts are color coded by specified criteria, a related items web part used for associated documents and drawings, an entity details web part, and a structure viewing web part used for parts lists and where-used reports.

ACM Web Parts for SharePoint combines the power of ACM with the simplicity of SharePoint to expose key product content from ACM within the familiar SharePoint environment. By improving access to product data, you can streamline many processes throughout the enterprise and enable collaboration between cross-functional groups during the product development, content creation, and delivery processes.

Given enough time and resources, Sharepoint can make anything happen

How does anyone figure that time + effort = zero cost?

by Liz Fraley

Recently I was preparing my talk for the Gilbane Boston conference coming up in December. I’m presenting along-side two people I respect a lot: Barry Schaeffer and Doug Gorman.

I’ve known Barry for years and years. He’s the former President of X-Systems, a company that was an Arbortext partner from before they were PTC. He’s an FA&D insider who knows this industry from one end to the other, up and down.  Doug, is the President of SimplyXML. I’ve only gotten to know personally recently, but I’ve felt his presence over the years. He was CEO of Information Mapping, a company with a long history inside the industry that everyone knew. Both of them have been helping companies take a transformative adoption to their content strategy for as long as I can remember.

Our joint presentations are centered on the topic of Content Management Solutions. So while I was doing my research for my presentation, I was reading through some of the things I’ve retained in my archives for one reason or another. I was reading an AIIM ebook about SharePoint, when something they proudly proclaimed struck me.

“There’s nothing SharePoint can’t do that time and resources can’t make happen”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I mean really! There it was in plain black and white, the naked truth that if you throw enough money and person power into developing customized code you can get the tool to do what you need. WOW!

Now is it just me, or do you all see the same flaws I see? If I am going to invest in a tool to solve a business need, why would I want to spend countless amounts of money and resources on getting it to do what I need. I mean shouldn’t there be a solution to my needs that comes out of the box and solves the majority of my needs? Is that too much to ask for? I don’t think so. In fact there are companies that spend money and resources in developing just the tools I need. Once I have my business needs fully defined, all I need to do is analyze the tools and select the right one for me.

And yet, over and over again, I hear this refrain. “I could do it for zero cost if I use open tools.” So I’m wondering where the heck are they getting that information from? Then, a week or so ago, there was a tweet that caught my eye:

@xmluser #xml10 Don Day running through scenario for a zero cost DITA implementation (except for time & effort)

How does anyone figure that time + effort = zero cost? Where are they finding free labor? Do they have an inside track on a team of coding elves that are will to work for nothing? I mean honestly, who are they kidding? There is no such thing as free. It just doesn’t happen. Everything has a cost so buyer be aware, you get what you pay for. You may find a tool that is open, but don’t be misled thinking that it’s free or zero cost. In fact, you may end up spending tens of thousands in labor and time to get that “free “ software to do what you need it to do. And don’t forget that once you get the tools working you will need to maintain them forever. Yes, that will cost you.