As companies complete the yearly evaluation of their PLM objectives there may be some new discussions brewing. Product development processes have changed quickly over the past few years to support new types of supplier collaboration, digital transformation efforts, and flexible sourcing strategies. These paradigm shifts have become major drivers for new functionality within PLM systems, and in many cases have stretched the limits of legacy applications to a breaking point. Over-customized systems with a history of unresolved technical debt are driving many companies to a point of reflection, wondering where do we go from here?

When considering the feasibility of implementing new functionality in their old PLM applications, companies are faced with a few critical questions:

  • Does my current PLM software provide the capabilities to support our future vision?
  • Should we invest time and money to update our PLM software to the current version?
  • Should we move to the cloud? (Spoiler alert: yes, always yes)
  • Will a SaaS offering be able to handle my company’s specific needs?

Before we even start

The hard reality for many of today’s PLM systems is that they are not ready to move forward. Before a major investment of work is initiated in any enterprise system, it is best practice to be on the latest version of the software. Unfortunately, this is not where most companies are right now, and it is not easy for them to get there. In a recent CIMdata study of mindshare leader PLM solutions and their ability to execute upgrades, the results showed the average upgrade cost was between $700K and $1.2M and on average the upgrade required 11 to 14 months depending on the solution.

If a company is going to invest significant time and resources in upgrading their PLM system, it opens up the door to other, more dramatic conversations. This can be evaluating a move to the cloud, use of a SaaS solution, switching to a new software solution…or all of the above.

First, the easy question

While companies were initially apprehensive about moving their PLM systems to the cloud, many have utilized a cloud-first approach for other enterprise application deployments. According to CIMdata, “Cloud-based PLM adoption has been slow, but interest is picking up. In most of CIMdata’s industrial consulting engagements today, the question is ‘why not cloud?’ with a lot of push coming from corporate IT and even the C-suite.”

As executives and IT professionals strategize on their PLM visions, industry analysts agree cloud deployments will dominate the next generations of solutions. As Gartner states, “Today, the cloud underpins most new technological disruptions, including composable business, and has proven itself during times of uncertainty with its resiliency, scalability, flexibility and speed.”

Is SaaS the answer?

The answer is …. it depends. The questions of complete functionality and using a SaaS solution needs to be taken together and it varies depending on the SaaS offering. SaaS offerings benefit an organization’s aggressive PLM strategies by offering new levels of resiliency in the environment. CIMdata reports “Based on our research and industrial consulting experience, CIMdata believes that the flexibility and scalability of cloud-delivered SaaS solutions can significantly help companies execute their digital transformation plan.” The bigger question is if the specific SaaS offering you are considering provides the level of capabilities needed to deliver the complex solutions you require. This is where decision makers need to ask:

  • Does the SaaS offering provide all of the applications and capabilities of the on-premise solution in a single offering?
  • Are all my company specific requirements aligned with the out of the box functionality and if not, can the SaaS offering still deliver them?
  • Will I be able to control when upgrades are pushed into my regulated environment?
  • How do I know the provider is following industry accepted security processes?

The reality is that most SaaS PLM offerings do not provide all the capabilities of the provider’s flagship product, even if it’s branded with a similar name. Some applications or capabilities may not be included with the standard subscription. Additionally, the solution may not have been fully rearchitected to leverage cloud services yet. These solutions simply use a VM version of the on-premise product.

While the SaaS model provides typical benefits like new functionality delivered to the customers on a regular schedule, this often comes with a trade-off. Most SaaS offerings limit or prevent customizations for company specific requirements and force upgrades to a customer on the provider’s schedule. Of course, if you are looking to run your organization exclusively with the out of the box functionality provided by your vendor this may not be an issue, but the unique demands of large companies usually conflict with this “one size fits all” approach.

Aras Enterprise SaaS

Aras Enterprise SaaS is the answer to these concerns. It is more powerful than any other PLM SaaS offering. Only Enterprise SaaS provides a fully capable, business-ready SaaS PLM environment with complete systems engineering and digital thread functionality ready to transform your organization all as part of a single offering. Furthermore, Enterprise SaaS is flexible to meet your most complex business requirements. It is the only PLM SaaS offering to support unlimited customizations and provide the capabilities to create unique solutions with no limits to complexity. Unlike other SaaS offerings that force upgrades, Aras delivers upgrades on your schedule eliminating compliance issues, risks, and associated liabilities of systematic updates. Enterprise SaaS guarantees the security, availability, and confidentiality of critical data with SOC2 and CSA STAR certifications minimizing exposure of sensitive information and risk of a data breach.

Curious to learn more? Check out our Aras Enterprise SaaS brochure.