If PLM is so easy, then why does it take years to deploy, cost millions of dollars, fail to meet expectations, and languishes in a highly customized frozen “PDM-like” state where it will cost millions to upgrade? Plus, users don’t like it.

Daniel Goleman has a great book entitled, “Emotional Intelligence,” where he writes about our two brains, one rational, and the other, emotional. One of the points he makes is that stressful situations can cause us to stop thinking clearly, disrupting our ability to prioritize because we see things in more complicated ways than actual reality. I think this can be true when it comes to how we view PLM.

My experience has been that companies don’t even want PLM products. They want specific outcomes—ones that change over time. What you plan for today, will not be what you need tomorrow. PLM is therefore a transition game—one where you must adapt, which means agile deployments on flexible, upgradeable platforms. That’s key, and if it’s not understood—PLM can get hard and it won’t be your imagination.

A common argument used in PLM circles is that technology is not the problem—people are the problem. That’s incorrect. And while some organizations, struggle mightily with the concepts that negatively impact their culture, people are truly a company’s greatest asset. So, assume you handed your best team antiquated, inflexible technology. The outcome and your culture will suffer. Technology matters.

And of course, any time people work against people, it’s counterproductive, which leads me to one other observation from my 30 year PLM journey, which is that there are many stakeholders with well-meaning agendas as well as  vendors and possibly consultants with even more. There are always competing requirements. The best teams don’t avoid this; they address it with transparency, by continually forming better habits, holding themselves accountable, and working together as a collective team with strong engagement. On successful PLM deployments everyone involved contributes to the success—it’s a community effort.

I believe with clear and rationale thinking, “Ease of Ownership” in PLM is not only achievable, but is being experienced today.

Let’s take some of the arguments:

PLM is Expensive

According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, Boeing signed for $1 billion worth of PLM over a thirty-year period. Okay, that’s not cheap, but Boeing has approximately 40,000 engineers and this purchase spans thirty years. You can do the math.

PLM License Fees are Complex

I have no patience for complex licensing and maintenance schemes, and haggling over discounts, none of which are geared toward helping the customer. I don’t know exactly where all the PLM vendors stand, but fortunately the world is quickly moving toward subscription models.

PLM Deployments Take Years

There are a number of disastrous PLM deployments I can cite that dragged on for many years, and failed. At a high level, it comes down to a gap between what is attempted and what could be attained. The specifics vary related to the lack of openness, the flexibility of the technology, and the motivation of the collective stakeholders involved. But like all projects that go south, there was some level of avoidance, a lack of accountability, and often a poor choice of technology and/or vendor.

It’s not like anyone is still required to do waterfall deployments or dozens of POCs to prove out capability. If you’re looking at a first minimum viable production deployment that extends beyond a 4-6 month window, you may want to question your scope, the team, the technology, etc. Large PLM deployments for fortune 100 customers with full change management, multiple CAD integrations, and ERP integrations are deployed well within those time frames today.

Customizations Prevent Upgrades

A customer recently told me there is no such thing as a PLM related product that does not need to be customized. Bingo—every company that’s going to win in the marketplace is unique and they customize “sustainably” to gain that advantage. If you really want a vendor that doesn’t perform your upgrades, and you have a great reason to be on a rigid platform, then budget the millions accordingly. But that’s a choice, because there are vendors that don’t make you pay for upgrades.

The Community

Back in the spring of 2016, I called Aras and asked to speak to a salesperson to get a budgetary quote, which a member of the Aras Community did for me, and showed me the subscription “selling” price on the website, with a click through agreement. They showed me the Aras Roadmap, and informed me that I could just download the software Aras Download and use it—it’s free with an Open API. If I wanted them to perform the upgrades including my customizations, then I’d have to be a subscriber.

“Software Maintenance?” I asked

“No, just the subscription price on the web,” the Community person said.

“Discounts?” I asked.

“No, just the subscription price on the web,” they repeated.

“We do an insane amount of customization—really crazy stuff. Surely you charge extra?” I asked

“No, just the subscription price on the web” they repeated.


“Unlimited . . . included in the subscription price,” they said.

This is where it gets tricky on the psyche. My emotional brain tells me PLM ownership is supposed to be painful. A “selling” subscription price and a road map on a website with a click through agreement. What would we do with ourselves without prolonged negotiations, squabbling over discounts, terms and conditions? My sourcing person will think I’m nuts, unless we’re prepared to dig in our heels and waste months. This is way too easy. Who are these comrades in the community with their transparent low-key approach? Who are they kidding—free upgrades of our customizations? Unlimited training? Where was the sales pitch, and the convoluted pricing schemes? How could PLM ownership be this easy?


Let’s start with the math. Going to the Aras website, Subscription Pricing, let’s assume 50,000 users. That’s $14 per month x 12 months = $8.4 million, which works out to be $168 per user for a year. This is where I checked on my families’ yearly cell phone charges. Not good! And yes, with SQL Server, a Windows Server and a .NET framework, your kids can download a full blown PLM product in about 45 minutes about the size of MS Word for free. Take their cell phones away and tell them to download PLM.

Okay, what’s the catch?

Free upgrades including migrations of all customizations, no matter how many changes I make. Hard to believe—I know, but absolutely true.

How can Aras do this? The answer is superior open, flexible, scalable, and resilient architecture, but also a commitment to an Open PLM Community. Going back to what made PLM hard—much of it comes down to the motivation of all the stakeholders. At Aras, there are no add-on products to sell and no commissioned sales people with an agenda that differs from what’s best for you. Aras has plenty of PLM apps, but they incorporate everything, using the same services and modeling engine you would use to customize an application. Therefore, you just get all the new technology when Aras upgrades you, along with all your customizations that you or any contractor performed at the same subscription price. Since Aras is doing the upgrades, there is a high level of engagement as the entire Community is part of a collective team.  This and the fact that Aras is responsible for upgrading its customers, results in 90% of the subscribers being on recent versions.

It’s not only open licensing free downloads, ease of deployment, free training and free upgrades. The community also extends to thousands of users, partners, developers and enthusiasts around the world. There is strength in numbers, which is why Aras fosters the Aras Community where you can share your ideas, customizations, and work together, if you wish. Aras encourages everyone to tap into this rich network to collaborate on solutions, support one another, and help us make our products and technology better every day.

If you want to eliminate risk and make your PLM Ease of Ownership a reality, I suggest you click on the Aras Subscription and Services.

The value of PLM comes from better access to product information, greater coordination of processes, more informed decision-making, and the ability to respond to and capitalize on changing market conditions. PLM does not need to be hard or risky. You can now take a more rational approach.

There is a new standard in Ease of Ownership—Aras.