Simplify, Collaborate, Integrate and Innovate are four ordinary verbs. They are also the four foundational tenets of Upchain that make us different from any other traditional PLM solution out there. We will explain these four unique tenets in a series of posts to highlight how UpChain helps product stakeholders Simplify, Collaborate, Integrate and Innovate better in their ordinary work. In this, the first of a four part series, we introduce our first extra-ordinary tenet: Simple.
“It’s complicated” is a phrase that conjures up many emotions. Maybe you’re seeing someone but you’re not officially a couple. Maybe you are trying to explain your job to someone who just isn’t getting it. No matter the situation, no one wants it to be complicated, and yet it so often is. Some things are just intrinsically complicated and finding out how to simplify them can cause even more trouble, especially in a business. We at Upchain believe things get complicated because of a lack of easily accessible information where and when you need it. Without this information, people create workarounds like scheduling meetings, emailing files, traveling to meet remote stakeholders and too much more. People will also complicate things even more by entirely recreating information based on the assumption that it does not exist. More and more businesses are turning to PLM systems to connect and facilitate order in their organization, as well as within their value chain, i.e. the people outside of their organization who are required to get products to the market. Yet, even this is failing them. The reason these PLM systems fail, according to CIMdata Inc.’s recent publication, “Why is PLM Often so Hard?”, is that their architecture was not created for a multi-system/diversified business, they were designed for engineers by engineers, and they manage only current processes as they exist.
What often happens with an already implemented PLM system is that it may obstruct, rather than support, work. This is because of the complexity of how traditional PLM systems work. This causes users to adapt, figure out workarounds, to get their job done on time. These workarounds then become accepted practice for everyday work leaving the PLM system compromised and unable to function as the formal Master source of truth. Despite this reality, PLM providers claim success because the system has been implemented according to the contract.
And relying on workarounds is no solution. At the individual level, innovation is lost because the stakeholder spends much of their time doing low value administration tasks like searching, changing, buying, updating and meeting, all of which are mostly reactionary. So the question becomes, how do we uncomplicate things? How do we make them simple?
Upchain has entered the market with a totally new vision for PLM, making complicated work simple. Upchain founder and CEO, John Laslavic, has decades long experience in the industry, and has seen firsthand where and why PLM is necessary, as well as where and why existing PLM’s have fallen short. Traditional PLM systems have rigid data models and complex cascading UI menus and screens. A SaaS solution, Upchain has a fundamentally different architecture which enables users to combine system level primitives into virtual new workflows and business solutions. More importantly, the system UI changes upon the user profile and progress of an item through the P-L-M journey. An Upchain user is always presented with the minimal UI to support their choices at that time. Upchain proprietary algorithms continuously track user behavior patterns to produce shortcuts to tasks. Additionally, throughout the product, helpful in-context information pops up when hovering over a menu button. All these features, and so many more, are there to make things simple.
Work gets pushed over the wall, moving one person’s problems over to the next. This continues so that the old paradigms continue, even despite advances of modern technology. Upchain is not just challenging that paradigm, but knocking it down. Upchain is giving power back to the individual product stakeholder to affect change in their own work, their workgroup, and throughout the entire Product Lifecycle ecosystem by democratizing the product data and process across the value chain.
Upchain also advocates enabling subsets of the entire Product Lifecycle Management challenge. In addition, it automates discrete processes within guard rails while aligning to a clear vision, mitigates risk and grants quick wins. It also boosts individual productivity by freeing up personal cycles to focus on higher value tasks.
Upchain has a user centric philosophy. Our goal is to be invisible to the user. We do this by inbedding behind the scenes into all the tools a user already uses, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, from within a CAD user environment such as Solidworks or Altium, and from a project lead’s point of view. This flexibility, together with the way Upchain tunes the UI experience to present only salient functions necessary for the user tasks at hand, minimizes disruption to the user. All of this allows an Upchain user to remain concentrated on their primary job, not worrying about things beyond their own tasks- that’s what Upchain is for.
Simple is desirable, yet often has been hard to achieve. Apple founder Steve Jobs once said “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains” (BusinessWeek, May 25 1998). Upchain has made PLM simple.