Upgrading your Teamcenter PLM environment is always a challenge with all the integrations and changes coming in new versions. Surprises and delays can happen due to unexpected errors and findings. Your PLM vendor may or may not perform to expectations. Below guide will help you to make it a success.
How to choose the right time and right version to upgrade?
Right time is extremely important as it is a lengthy and time-consuming process if you have a big user base and complex environment. You do not want to find out that some dependent software is getting out of support soon after upgrade or the new version has a critical bug which is not resolved yet. Upgrade should be driven by need to get maximum value out of it. Check versions of all integrated and dependent software like CAD, ERP, Database, MS-Office, etc. to see that they remain supported for next 2-3 years on new version.
You can download the certification matrix from siemens website here https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/global/en/support/certifications.html. Synchronize your upgrade cycle so that you need not upgrade before 5-6 maintenance patches of second latest version is released.
Which version to upgrade to?
Upgrading to latest version is certainly tempting because of so much marketing and fanfare around latest versions but new versions always comes with new bugs. Normally the second latest major version with latest patch is more stable. The more time has passed after major release the better. But if you have a critical bug or need a function in latest release then a carefully planned and extensively tested upgrade version can be an exception. Siemens has launched Teamcenter 13.0 now (jun2020) and Teamcenter 12.4 is the latest major version available. It’s a good time to move to TC12 now.
Lessons learnt and Best practices from past upgrades
1. Set your upgrade goals clearly
Ask yourself “why do I want to upgrade?” Is it to stay supported from Siemens and/or need a new functionality and/or improve performance? Check if all the goals are getting met by upgrade. Sometimes performance issues are not resolved by upgrade as the problem could be in data model or database. Resolving those issues separately is recommended. List upgrade goals in terms of requirements and verify against the upgraded system in sandbox to take a GO/NO-GO decision. With each new Teamcenter release there is a performance improvement but if you have problems in database tuning or data model or infrastructure etc. then performance might decrease.
2. Define the upgrade scope clearly
Defining upgrade scope clearly avoids hassle and negotiation with vendors. It gives accurate picture of efforts and time required at early stages. Sample items to include are:
- Configuration (BMIDE) upgrade
- Customization Upgrade
- Integration upgrade – CAD, ERP, Office etc.
- Refile for NX if NX is upgraded
3. Stop new development
It makes sense to stop any changes to current system after starting upgrade process. Otherwise it is difficult to identify if any problem is due to version or new change.
4. Simplify your data model
You might have customized or configured your system to achieve certain functionalities in the past. Review them to see if those can be achieved Out of the Box (OOTB) in the new version with some adjustments with users. This will not only improve performance but also make your next upgrade easy and less costly.
Certain requirements can be redundant in present setup and can be removed from system or traded for new. Moving information from “custom forms” to Item Revision properties and getting rid of the forms can definitely improve performance. Similarly, custom reports can be achieved using OOTB methods.
5. Test, test and test…
Testing is the key to success for upgrade. Extensive testing can find out deep hidden problems that can stop operations after upgrade. A company with roughly 1000 users who happily and successfully upgraded and went live. After a week, a critical bug was discovered which made their entire environment stop after roughly 1.5 week of activity due to a bug in server manager. Siemens was already working on issue to fix and released the path after few months but till then customer had to restart servers every week to keep them from crashing. Problems such as this are difficult to identify in test environment and needs special load testing scripts. Involving lot of business users is also important as testing by vendors is mostly non-functional and away from day to day reality.
Ask your vendor to read all reviews, problem reports, enhancements, bugs, and error reporting on the chosen version to see if any business-critical issue can be a showstopper. Lot of bug fixing after major release is common and fixes are released in patches over time. Hence wise to wait for maintenance patches for new versions.
6. Upgrading more than two versions
Temp upgrade does not support jump over more than two versions, but it is possible to do it internally. For example, an upgrade from TC8 to TC12 would look like upgrade from TC8 to TC10 and then TC10 to TC12. Process can be done internally without users getting to see intermediate versions. Some extra efforts will be there for two internal upgrades but better than upgrade twice with interval.
7. Infrastructure changes
Upgrade after more than 3-4 years usually calls for infrastructure upgrade and it’s a good time to do if you have not done recently. Your servers might be outdated now and may not support new version of database or Teamcenter. All layers must be carefully matched so that everything is supported for next few years. Delays in procurement of new hardware is also common as there is dependency on other departments and vendors. Hence place order well before in time. Some time you may have to reorder to satisfy RAID levels or comply with backup strategy.
8. Move to hybrid cloud environment
Using cloud servers for database and application servers is becoming more and more secure and economical. Volume can still be hosted in-house and cache servers can be hosted on cloud for remote locations. Even though you are not ready to host production environment on cloud, try to host your sandbox or testing or training environment on cloud to gain experience and be ready for future. Download Free trial of Teamcenter X to get a feel of Cloud based SaaS TC environment. This can be useful for training purposes.
9. Make placeholder for your IOT data
It is economical now to get real time performance data from your assets and collect them for analysis. Creating a placeholder for certain key data on products can be very useful for designers to design better and save material costs. The necessary connectors for live data can be easily accommodated as part of upgrade as it may involve hardware and software tweaks. Contact us for more ideas and information about this.
How to get management approvals (Benefits and ROI)
Management always wonder why we need money every alternate year to upgrade PLM. It is hard to show them the return on this investment. Most of the time it is budgeted but still does not get necessary support or approval. It is a good strategy to get management onboard for once by showing business benefits and ROI on upgrade investment.
You can create your own benefits calculation based on time saved and cost of unsupported versions or we have some benefit calculation spreadsheets for particular industry type that you can get free from us. You should also calculate cost of business disruption due to unsupported software and risk of delaying product development.
Although these things are necessity or obvious but showing a ROI can get you additional support for your PLM program. If you want to get rid of approval cycles, we also have a 3, 5- and 10-year smart upgrade plans wherein you can choose to upgrade to major and minor releases certain number of times in these years. We help you in getting one-time approval and lucrative discount with guarantee of success. Long term contract will give you peace of mind and you can cancel contract anytime if you are not satisfied.