What Aras can learn from Arena Solutions
Several studies by researchers Terence R. Mitchell, Leigh Thompson, Erika Peterson and Randy Cronk have shown that people usually only remember the beautiful moments of the past and the bad feelings are quickly faded out. What remains is a pink memory, called Rosy View, which usually has nothing in common with reality.
You can find more information regarding this studies here:
Temporal Adjustments in the Evaluation of Events: The “Rosy View”
Why I am starting a PLM related article with a psychological study? Well, a couple of days ago I had some nostalgic feelings regarding my previous PLM system: Arena PLM from Arena Solutions. Oh what a beautiful piece of software, a real pleasure to work with it! I can not remember anything negative!
During my nostalgic trip I discovered that Arena Solutions has an office in the direct neighborhood of Aras! Both Aras and Arena should make a company outing to visit their neighbors, it´s just an half an hour bike ride. And there’s a lot to discover! From my point of view, Arena is the perfect counterpart to Aras and vice versa.
PLM systems are hard to compare, each one has it´s own flavor, strengths and weaknesses. This article shall highlight a couple of technical details in Arena, that I sometimes still miss in Innovator. The following points solely represents my own point-of-view. I will definitely not make a representative, objective, thorough or in-depth comparison, as I mainly cover topics shown in Youtube video. In addition, always keep mind that the author is highly affected by temporal adjustments (see the beginning of this article)!
You are cordially invited to join my nostalgic trip, which is mainly based on this Arena Solutions promotional video: Arena PLM Overview
Innovator spreads user-related information across several ItemTypes. We have separate ItemTypes for:
- Visual Collaboration
- Search Center
- Recently Visited Items (if you use the available Community Project)
Arena unifies most of these notification features in an all-in-one dashboard. Especially notice the Downloads tab, as Arena already integrates an Export option. In Innovator, you have to take care for this task by yourself.
Arena Items and Aras Items do the same job. They are more or less equal. They were probably both inspired by the same magical oracle².
Some details in Arena:
- Arena offers more OOTB functionality regarding RoHS, REACH and Conflict Mineral documentation
- Watch the top right corner! There you can see an integrated data importer for end users so people can import their beloved spreadsheets.
- File handling in Arena is from my POV a little bit more flexible and intuitive. Arena allows to reuse, relink and pass through files through different levels very easily.
- Arena from integrates Vendor and Manufacturer data more thorough and in a deeper level than Innovator. You can quite good differentiate, if your Manufacturer is also your Vendor or if you purchase stuff from a complete different source. I never got warm with the Aras Vendor ItemType.
- I really liked the Arena calculation system for prototype and productions costs. Especially when you are in an early stage of product development, Arena provides you better options to get an realistic overview of your estimated costs. And ‘costs’ in Arena are more transparent and easy to follow, case they are directly calculated from Manufacturer Parts, not from ‘generic’ Part Costs.
Now here can we start a discussion if this kind of stuff is really essential for a PLM software. I somehow understand why Aras didn´t spend too much energy in product calculation and Manufacturer/Vendor separation. Procurement is not the main task of PLM and you normally will try to connect your PLM to the ERP to get the relevant data. But a few more calculation and compliance features would definitely be a nice addition.
Comparing and redlining
In Arena, it´s quite easy to compare different revisions. Even better: Their redline tool can refer to your change management processes. So you can easy determine what has changed and what change process is behind. You can even compare to planned future changes, even if the item it self hasn´t changed yet!
Comparing is daily task for each PLM end user. In Innovator compare options are unfortunately very limited. If you use the OOTB Structure Browser, every little piece of data related to an item will be compared. In worst case, this can be tons of metadata which is completely useless for the end user. Luckily you can customize the Structure Browser via code, but you soon will notice that it still remains some kind of… disappointing. We neither can compare properties nor make a simple diff of two BOMs. You most of the time end up doing manual side-by-side comparison.
If you ask me which feature I miss most in Innovator: It´s the Arena redline tool!
Speed, stability and the likeliness to fail
The Arena cloud was fast, incredible fast. In addition Arena never crashed in the 1 year I was using it (as far as my pink memory remembers). Innovator already crashed in the first marketing demo I attended a couple of years ago. I underrated this iconic moment. This sentence shall not indicate that Innovator is an unstable software. Not at all! It shall express that the flexibility of Innovator is a benefit, but also sometimes feels like a constant challenge.
Doing this kind of comparison is highly unfair from my side. Arena is cloud focused PLM, while Innovator can be hosted where ever you want and has it´s biggest benefit when it comes to customization. It´s a classical fact can learn from MTBF¹ calculations – more moving parts, more can go wrong.
To be fair, Aras spend a lot of energy to improve the general speed and stability of Innovator. But still simple things sometimes will lead to surprising issues. It´s the price you pay for flexibility. In the end, we all have to face the frustrating fact: Regular users don´t care about the software background. They just want that the software does the job reliable and fast. It´s an huge task for Innovator admins to use Innovators flexibility without loosing performance and stability. Innovator is a software for people who are not afraid of customization – and also not afraid of challenges. But probably this sentence can be applied to the whole PLM topic (and of course all other types of business areas).
For me the perfect PLM combines
- Arena´s feeling for usability and (how I would call it): Respect for data. This involves not just data protection but also their way they preserve and improve data quality.
- Innovator’s definite strength in customization. This even allows the use of the software for topics beyond classic PLM.
These two companies would really be a perfect match! But as we don´t live in a pink world, an unification of these two companies is highly unlikely. However, there is nothing wrong to get some inspiration from each other.
Today’s software is complex and the requirements are constantly increasing. We will never reach perfection. But it’s more important that we are all idealistic enough to never give up reaching the higher goal.
Map data from Google Maps @2019
Screenshots from Arena PLM taken from:
[Arenasolutions] (2018, August 20): Arena PLM Overview [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKYEPqRFWWA
Temporal Adjustments in the Evaluation of Events: The “Rosy View”
¹ Mean time between failure (MTBF) refers to the average amount of time that a device or product functions before failing.
² An oracle is a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle]