PLM 360: Saving You From Death by Spreadsheet Management

We all agree that spreadsheets are extremely easy to manipulate. Manage an action log? Track your vendor list? Plan your next design requirements? Put a quick Gantt chart together? Rows, columns and formulas are so flexible that anybody can use them and literally drive all of your business processes! However, as your company grows, hires more employees and expands to new locations, a new challenge emerges: those nice and easy spreadsheets get exponentially multiplied, are saved in random locations, travel from one person to the other by email, are not so up to date anymore, and become totally unmanageable… well, the spreadsheet honeymoon can quickly turn into your worst corporate nightmare.

In the previous post “There is a Better Way with PLM 360”, we highlighted the fact that Autodesk PLM 360 offers powerful ways to automate your engineering and business processes. PLM 360 uses the concept of workspaces to act as storage spaces for your data. Many useful workspaces such as “Items and BOMs”, “Project Management” and “New Product Introduction” are coming out of the box and are ready to use. The figure below displays a standard Autodesk PLM 360 Main Menu where Categories act as placeholders to organize workspaces. The workspaces contain all the pertaining records.

Categories, Workspaces and Records
Figure 1: PLM 360 Categories, Workspaces and Records

Each workspace could be compared to a spreadsheet - where PLM 360 fields would be equivalent to spreadsheet column titles and each PLM 360 item records would be equivalent to spreadsheet rows. For example, the “Customers” workspace would contain as many records as you have customers. And each record would contain all details relative to one customer: the name, address, website, primary contact, logo, etc. Any attribute that you want to track can be easily setup. The figure below provides a great overview of how a spreadsheet can be translated into a PLM 360 record inside a workspace.

Transform Spreadsheet
Figure 2: Transform your spreadsheet into PLM 360 data

Using this paradigm, it becomes possible to capture any spreadsheet into PLM 360 records by adding / modifying fields in “out of the cloud” workspaces or by building dedicated workspaces. From this point, your business data is going to be taken out of email inboxes and file servers and will become properly tracked and available to all your users.

Taking control of your data and ensuring everyone has access to the same consistent data is one of the basic capabilities of PLM 360; and ERP Guru can help you implement this solution in no time. Quick wins! Contact us for more information of how Autodesk PLM 360 can add value to your processes, projects and people management.

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There Is a Better Way with PLM 360!

At the beginning of the year, we took an introductory look at what is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). In September, ERP Guru attended Autodesk Accelerate 2014, the very first Autodesk PLM 360 conference, in Boston, MA. We have been absolutely amazed by how PLM 360 users have taken their system to the next level, finding better and faster ways to do business. This figure, drawn during the Accelerate Conference, provides a great overview of what PLM 360 is all about.

(This figure was provided by Autodesk) 

Spreadsheets, emails, papers, file servers… A great deal of companies try to manage their processes with manual tools. And as they grow, they lose control. Autodesk PLM 360 offers a better way to bring processes, people and projects together by providing the “right information” to “the right people”, at “the right time”. Being on the cloud, PLM 360 takes your company one step further to being free of your expensive-and-hard-to-maintain-hardware-infrastructure. Connect PLM 360 with NetSuite, or any other ERP, CRM, or PDM systems, and you will be able to share real-time data across your entire company, the globe, on computers, tablets, and phones.

ERP Guru team at Autodesk Accelerate 2014

We really liked how Zep Solar, a company dedicated to bringing solar energy to the masses with their revolutionary technology, embraced the PLM 360 application programming interface (API) to automate their label creation. Talk about an innovative way to harness PLM 360’s flexibility and agility!

(This figure was provided by Autodesk and Zep Solar)

Houlder, a fast growing vessel design and solution provider for the offshore industry, also presented how they adopted Autodesk PLM 360 to replace their confusing spreadsheet system and to handle project execution. As the company is expanding, PLM 360 supports growth and continuous improvement.

Your company could be the next success story and ERP Guru’s PLM and ERP experts are excited to assist you in implementing PLM 360, integrating it with your other systems and bringing your business to the next level! Contact us for details.


ERP Guru Takes on SuiteWorld 2011

The ERP Guru team arrived back at their respective airports this past Thursday after a whirlwind four days in San Francisco. This year NetSuite opened its doors to users and partners alike, making it their largest conference to date. It is my best estimate that NetSuite saw nearly 2000 people roll through the doors of the Marriott. The opening weekend was devoted to pre-conference training, and ERP Guru's arrival coincided with the official start of the conference.

Tuesday morning's general session was led by Zach Nelson, NetSuite's CEO. "The Cloud Changes Everything" was the title of the presentation and Zach sure showed the crowd the extent to which NetSuite is leading the way. NetSuite's business is clearly changing course; "Let's face it, no one wants to do accounting in the cloud, they want to do business processes." stated Zach Nelson during his keynote address. This shift is evident in Accenture's coming on board as a partner along with NetSuite's goal of selling to Fortune 500 companies. The impressive announcement that Groupon is now a NetSuite customer proves that the company is moving towards a larger, more geographically diverse client base.

Evan Goldberg, co-founder and CTO of NetSuite, was the speaker at Wednesday's general session. His presentation focused on NetSuite's growing assortment of partner applications. Social tools from Qontext, supply chain execution from ebizNet and Google App integration from Celigo were all unveiled. SuitePhone mobile extensions were discussed, but from the reaction of the crowd, improvements to NetSuite's analytics and means of presenting graphical information stole the show.

A larger portion of the conference was dedicated to breakout sessions. NetSuite offered eight different streams ranging from Sales, Executive Insights and SuiteCloud Platform. I personally attended the sales centric sessions and was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of the presentations. All talks were delivered by either Directors or VPs of NetSuite which fostered a sense of intimacy with the the growing company.

Overall, SuiteWorld 2011 was a huge success. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post reviewing some of the more technical solutions that were unveiled at the conference.

August: Tips & Tricks

1 - RSS/Atom Feeds on your Dashboard
It is possible to publish information from news sources and RSS feeds on your personalized dashboard. There are certain feeds that NetSuite offers as a default; however you can also display custom RSS feeds from other sites or create a custom feed to publish messages to users of your NetSuite account.
Display custom RSS feeds from other sites with these steps:
  1. Choose Personalize Dashboard so that the “Add Content” pane appears.
  2. Select RSS/Atom Feed.

To remove a feed, click the X in the upper-right corner of the portlet.
*Note that a RSS feed that an admin has set up is automatically added to your dashboard.

2 - What’s the difference between KPIs, KPI meters, and KPI scorecards?
  • A KPI shows a quick table of the key performance indicators that you select to be displayed. The table includes the KPI name, the period being compared (this month versus last month, for example), the current value, the previous value, and the percentage change. This portlet provides a quick overview of a number of KPIs.
  • A KPI meter shows how you’re doing on a particular KPI.
  • KPI scorecards are powerful analytical tools that are mainly used by managers to monitor the relationships among KPIs (ie, they can monitor the company’s fiscal health).
    3 - Setting a minimum order amount
    In some circumstances or business models, it may be necessary to require that customers order a minimum amount (ie, if credit card companies are charging you a certain percentage per order etc).
    In order to set the minimum order amount in NetSuite:
    1. Navigate to Setup >Web Site >Set Up Website
    2. Select the Shopping tab.
    3. Enter the minimum order amount desired for orders
    Following this, any order that totals less than the amount you set will receive an error message. Alternatively, you can also set a minimum order quantities (not dollar amount) for individual items by filling out the Minimum Quantity field under the Sales/Pricing tab.



    An Introduction to Product Life Cycle Management (PLM)

    Successful companies focus on core competencies to produce truly valuable products and services. Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) helps manufacturing, as well as architecture, engineering and construction firms to manage product design and production details in order to achieve just that. 

    Product Life Cycle Management
    Product Life Cycle Management - Cycle Components
    But what does a PLM system actually do, and what should it include? 

    By integrating people, data, processes and business systems, a PLM system provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise in order to unite business processes and solve varying business needs.

    In general, PLM refers to the upfront parts of the product cycle - the management of CAD, product design data, documentation and BOMs as well as integrated product and project management. In an Aberdeen survey in 2012, respondents denoted which capabilities should be part of an integrated PLM solution -  the top five can be seen in Table I. 

    In essence, an effective PLM needs the capabilities that can centralize product data and manage the related workflows. 

    Benefits of PLM Software

    The traditional benefits of PLM software focus around time, cost and quality, and as a result has significant impact on internal (improving use of cost-center resources like core R&D, engineering, prototypes, and samples), supplier-facing (enhancing the ability to purchase materials, parts, and customer services) and customer-facing (increased knowledge for product characteristics and development) operational efficiency.

    Potential business benefits include: 
    • Greater visibility to critical information
    • More efficient business processes
    • Improved supplier collaboration
    • Faster time-to-market
    • Improved compliance to industry standards
    • Higher product quality 
    • Faster response to market dynamics
    • Improved program and project visibility
    • Reduced waste
    • Greater component reuse

    Overall, when deciding whether or not to adapt a PLM solution, it is important to assess business objectives that highlight the 'pains' or needs that you desire to solve with a PLM system.