A longtime ago in an airport far away. It was an early Monday morning. The line for security snaked through the entirety of the stanchions and extended into one long line all the way back to the carousels. I chatted with the guy in front of me as we made the trek to the bins and the scanners. We talked about inconsequential things like golf and politics.

Just as the bins were appearing over the horizon, a TSA agent approached the man in front of me. She was towing in her wake a mother with three children, pushing a double wide stroller, everyone had back packs, empty water bottles, and an assortment of pillows and stuffed animals.

With a perky smile she asked my new friend— “Sir, would you mind if this lady could get in front of you?”

He looks at his watch and responds “Well, actually I’m running a little late and it looks like I might miss my flight so probably not.”

“No problem sir, you have a great day.”

She goes to the man in front of him, “Sir, would you mind if this lady could get in front of you?”

The man two spots now in front of me replies, “Sure no problem.”

The lady and her entourage are ushered ahead of us in the line. My new friend and I look at each other, he says, “What just happened?” We are both still somewhat in shock, but we knew better than to argue with the TSA. “I guess we’re stuck”.

He says, “You know it’s interesting, my boss and I recently had this same conversation, he asked me “What happened” and I told him “I guess we’re stuck.” He went on to explain that he managed a PLM implementation for a large global enterprise. He said that when they were investigating systems, they were promised by one of the major players that their solution was ready out-of-the box and we didn’t need a customized solution. “It contained built-in wisdom and we would be fine. Except we weren’t fine, we found that the productivity increases we were looking for were not in the out-of-the box solution we purchased but would be found in a more customized approach. We spent a bunch of money with some offshore developers and bolted onto the side the other 20% of functionality that fit our specific needs, rules, and processes. And it was great, we saw some good gains.”

He went on, “Now we are five years down the road. We are two and a half releases behind on our initial solution, and our business has changed. We have had a couple of acquisitions, our regulations have changed, and we are exploring different business opportunities. We investigated upgrading our current system, the company that sold us the original said they we would certainly love to get us on their current release, but our customizations would not be coming along. We were stuck. We tried to find the offshore developers again, to see what it would take, they were out of business. We approached a domestic company, the amount they quoted was so far out of our budget to be laughable. We were stuck.”

“Hmmm, I said, that’s interesting.” “My company also invested in a PLM system a few years back, with the understanding that our vendor anticipated we would need to fit it into our specific ecosystem and would need to customize it. And that’s what we did, without help from outside developers. And we continue to develop―we have developed a couple of applications that automate some of our peculiar business rules and processes, we have a roadmap going forward, and we are on the current release.”

“But what about the upgrades, how in the world do you afford them?”

“Oh, Aras does the upgrades for free, including all of our customizations. Sorry, gotta go, my plane is boarding, nice talking with you.” And I left him crying into his latte at the Starbucks.