Transparent PLM – Teamcenter Solution for Document Management Challenge

Product development companies need to manage a wide variety of documents in different formats and types as they design, manufacture and support their products. Gone are the days when paper documents used to run businesses. Today everything is digital, but very often these digital documents related to product and product development are created in siloed environments disconnected from product development processes. Document authors often recreate or reenter information from product development into their documents.

If the document authors don’t have visibility into the latest product changes, documents become out of sync with product updates. This impacts critical business processes due to inaccuracies or lack of current data. For organizations working globally, another challenge is the high cost and time involved in building complex documents that have multiple language/regional and regulatory requirements.

Teamcenter addresses this challenge by enabling documents that relate to and support product development to be stored alongside product data and processes. When documents are managed in the context of product data related to parts, or to other documents, companies have a single version control, access control and process control system for the entire enterprise, including product data and documents.

Source material from product data can be accessed and used to create documents like parts catalogs, work instructions, service material, specifications for suppliers, trade studies, or even regulatory filings. The documents can then be delivered  as appropriate to the end user in the required format, whether as a PDF or HTML web page, an interactive web tool, or exchanged with customers or suppliers using an industry standard.

The Teamcenter document management solution is focused on improving the document quality while streamlining the process of document creation and delivery. One of the central themes to this is “Transparent PLM.”

In a transparent PLM approach, users continue to do all their document work in their existing document authoring tools, the like Microsoft Office product suite.  They can also do the PLM activities – including review, approval or version or effectivity tracking, etc – directly from the same Office products.   With users continuing to work with document tools in which they are already proficient, they become more productive and the learning curve involved with a new PLM tool is eliminated. This helps with easy user adoption of the solution without any formal training requirements.

The solution enables consistency and standardization in documentation via use of document templates. Use of templates and automatic synchronization of document properties with Teamcenter attributes not only simplifies the document creation process but also reduces errors from manual data entry. With Teamcenter’s out of the box integration to Outlook, users can synchronize Teamcenter workflow tasks with their Outlook instance and execute their PLM workflow tasks by accessing the attached
documents directly from Outlook. The markup management capabilities enable collaborative development by allowing multiple reviewers to make comments concurrently.
All the markups and decision trails are stored in the system for future audits. The solution also allows rendering of Microsoft Office documents into a neutral format with print stamp and watermarks for distribution.

The benefit of the transparent PLM approach begins with faster adoption and reduced training costs, with easy to learn PLM functions inside common document authoring tool like Microsoft Office. There is an increased productivity for document authors while they contribute to product documentation by making it faster and easier to locate and incorporate product data into their documents.  The document consumers are also benefited by  storing the documents in the context of rest of the product data, there by facilitating easy search, retrieval and use of latest information. By extending PLM for document management, companies can increase the value of their existing PLM investment by extending access to information to more knowledge workers and by enforcing corporation-wide standards and security for all kinds of product data, including documents.

One comment

  • Patrick Culliton

    Hi Pradeep,

    How would you recommend a company link Teamcenter documents to SAP objects, for example objects such as Equipment Records and Sales Orders.

    This is a challenge today; receive an order for a custom product -> where do I store supporting documentation?

    Interested in your opinion.

    Kind Regards,