5 Must Haves for a Supplier Collaboration Portal for PTC Windchill

For manufacturers using a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system like PTC Windchill, an integrated supplier portal has been a long sought after key to extending the value of their PLM system into their supply chain. It’s no surprise why. Recent research shows that companies spend an average of 50% of engineering time finding, packaging, and sharing data. And 54% still use email attachments to share product data. Clearly manufacturers need a way to combine the convenience of file sharing apps and the simplicity of email/chat communication with the power of PLM. To help we’ve gathered the 5 must have capabilities that would power a Supplier Collaboration Portal for PTC Windchill.

  1. A modern collaboration experience that fits the way people work. If you’re going to convince everyone who doesn’t use PLM every day to leave their convenient everyday collaboration tools behind, you need a modern collaboration experience that fits the way they work. We all live in email, chat tools and other real-time collaboration apps. A supplier collaboration portal needs to embrace this natural daily routine. A mobile-first experience that adapts the experience based on the device being used is critical. A social style feed of conversations, content, feedback, and markups simplify the many applications typically required get work done.
  2. Simple ad-hoc file sharing: If your collaboration tool is a one-way street, you’re only winning half the battle. Yes, you need to be able to share PLM data out to your procurement teams, contract manufacturers and other suppliers, but they also need an easy way to share files back with you. That’s it. Make it easy for anyone to drag and drop their files back in so you get them on time. 
  3. Robust, automated integration/understanding of PTC Windchill: If you’re collaborating with your suppliers in a tool that doesn’t understand Windchill data and lifecycle management, you might as well keep using screen captures in PowerPoint and email attachments as your collaboration platform. You need to share the BOM. Or maybe 2D or 3D CAD. Or other structured data components (JSON) from Windchill. Synchronizing with Windchill version control, lifecycle states, workflows and packages is critical to ensuring everyone has the right data at the right time across the value chain. Collaboration activity and conversations are traced back to the source in Windchill for complete traceability. And the system must be capable of doing all this hard work for you with automation services and APIs so people can stay focused on innovation.
  4. IP Security meets Flexibility: This is a tough one. Your contract manufacturers and other suppliers need access to the data, but you don’t can’t give them the files. A supplier collaboration portal for PTC Windchill must have powerful yet flexible security features. You may want to allow download access for some users and not for others. You may want other users to be able to print. You may want some users to only view in a browser and mark up for feedback. You may want dynamic markings in the browser, in downloaded files, or in prints to deter malicious intent. Or you may want to redact items before it is even shared from PLM. Bottom line, IP security is paramount to effective supplier collaboration.
  5. Multi-sourced content clearinghouse: If you only use Windchill to manage product data, this might not apply. But if you manage product data in any other system, or have a heterogeneous PLM environment (often through acquisition), you need to share more than just Windchill data with your contract manufacturers, strategic suppliers and other downstream users. This means your technical data packages (TDP) and the collaboration platform must speak the language of all your systems, not just Windchill, that you use to manage product data. This ensures that all required data is accessible and actionable by everyone who needs it. 

Bottom line, manufacturers need a digital collaboration solution that does all the hard work for them so everyone can focus on innovation. Do make the most of your Windchill data by extending it to everyone who needs it. Don’t make collaborative compromises that lead to emailing screen captures and file attachment. And optimize collaboration with contract manufacturers and other strategic suppliers today with Anark Collaborate.  

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