Like everyone else, our business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…and just like everyone else, our focus has been on listening to what it is exactly our customers need at this time. The ways that we’re adapting and responding to the market are in direct response to the feedback we’re hearing from our customers. Now, we don’t want to be insensitive and talk about products/ solutions that make no sense…so let’s talk about what does make sense and what has the most impact during this time.
One of the solutions that is receiving a lot of attention right now, is Product Data Management (PDM). So, we connected with one of our PDM Gurus, Rohan Sanyal, to better understand why PDM is such a relief for our customers and what everyone should know. Join us for this PDM Q&A…that is Quarantine and Answers, of course.
(*The following was loosely transcribed, as we tried to omit some of the fillers, and tried to ensure easy understanding.)
Marketing (M): We’ve been getting A LOT of demand for PDM. I think it’s because a lot of our clients ‘knew’ what PDM could do, but now that they’re ‘experiencing’ the worst-case scenario for file management—the perspective has become more profound. What do you think?
Rohan Sanyal (RS): Definitely. Since its now pretty much government mandated that most of us work from home (WFH) we still want to have access to our important documents and files in order to able to work on them. Customers are asking about PDM because collaborative file sharing is now more difficult with people working remotely.
M: Right. We’re all experiencing this unprecedented circumstance and we’ve been stripped the luxury of being able to walk down the hall and ask our coworker, ‘Hey is that assembly done? Can you send me the latest version?’
RS: Exactly. It’s extremely unfortunate but it also magnifies the need for file management.
M: I’m glad you used that word… ‘magnifies’ because that is the right word here. Dig into that.
RS: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. File sharing collaboration and keeping your documentation in a secure area has always been an important facet of every company but now with WFH, connecting to other people is a little more difficult and ensuring that your data isn’t overwritten is a real concern. Network shares, DropBox, all of that becomes more critical, but, PDM can do a better job at ensuring the organization of files because of the plethora of options it offers.
Options (Offline, Remote, Cloud)
M: What are those plethora of options?
RS: Sure. Let’s dive into a couple of them. After doing so many implementations and services I’ve come to know a lot of these tools. A big one is being able to work offline. PDM allows you to do that. It’s a capability of many clients. You can also use remote access to your vault if you’re away from your company network through your VPN, using something like Cisco AnyConnect. A new one that many of our customer are adopting now, is of course, hosting their vault on the Cloud. You can imagine how accessible that can be.
(*By the way, we’ve learned new prospects are often hesitant to move to the Cloud due to security, but we can ensure that PDM on the cloud is no less secure than PDM on your local server. There is a lot of compliance and security in the way we provide this offering, and our partners at EpiGrid ensure nothing but the best.)
M: That’s awesome. Let’s dig into those further. I remember you having a discussion with me about VPN and how it could provide a little relief when you’re working offline with it. Something about your WiFi connection…I’m probably saying that completely wrong and out of sorts, but I think there was a good nugget there. Do you mind explaining that whole process?
RS: No, of course. You hit the nail on the head. What some people don’t know, especially when using VPN, is that it’s not just about a strong connection. See, they can have a really solid internet connection yet they’re noticing pretty significant delays when accessing their vault. This is a common occurrence with VPN and a common example of that is with Cisco AnyConnect. It’s a very versatile tool but you have to understand that Cisco AnyConnect, or most PN softwares, don’t just connect to your office that may be 10-15 miles away. First, it goes to a server in a different state, most likely Atlanta, and then comes back to your office, and then back to you. Thus, there is a common source of delay when working with VPN.
M: Hmm, and then so…what’s the work-around?
RS: A very common work around is to do it in bursts. What I’ve seen people do is connect to their office via VPN in the morning, let’s say when you grab your cup of coffee. Then you grab the files you need (in your vault) via checking them out. After, while you’re in the client, you choose to ‘work offline’. At this point you don’t even need the VPN anymore, it’s as good as working locally.
M: That’s awesome and then your roommate/ partner/ or kids can continue to stream Netflix uninterrupted. I never would have thought that PDM could provide some internet relief so thanks for sharing. Moving on, a ton of our customers who listen in to this interview or read along might have some questions. They might be thinking, ‘Okay, yeah. I need PDM now. I want to get it—but is that even going to be possible? Do I have to wait until after the quarantine? How long is the set upset given that we’re all working remotely? Etc.’ What can you tell those people?
RS: I think that’s a fantastic question. As someone who has implemented PDM very frequently, I am still doing that. I am still providing services. DesignPoint has taken a lot of measures to ensure that we can still serve and support our customers during this challenging time. Essentially what we would need is a connection to access your production environment, like a server to host PDM, and then consequently, the connection to the clients, to ensure that everything is installed correctly. We can enable that remotely. So, the ramp-up time really isn’t affected too greatly at all because of the pandemic. We are taking measures to ensure that our customers are still receiving the services they need, with the same amount of care, even though we can’t physically be there on-site.
M: That’s great to hear. I want to redirect you for a quick second. Let’s go back to our existing PDM customers because I feel like in servicing those clients, we’re discovering all the opportunity and value that PDM brings during this time. For instance, what you shared earlier about VPN, that came from you connecting with our clients and seeking to understand what’s happening and how you might be able to help/ support them. You found a work-around in working offline but I’ve also heard you mention something called PDM Web2. I know that’s a thing…but that’s about all I know. Can you please explain that, because if I’m not mistaken that is another solution?
RS: Absolutely. I’m glad you mentioned it! For those of you who have invested in PDM Pro, you have something called PDM Web2. It allows you to open your vault through a web browser. For instance, I was able to access my own vault through my phone. You can also access it through a tablet, netbook, etc., so long as you have internet connection. Obviously, this is very useful for different hardware scenarios too. Let’s say that you’re a Mac User, Safari can still access it! Overall, this is great for a lot of different users, not just the end user.
M: Okay, I see where we’re going here. Yes, this is a game changer for what we’re experiencing. I also think it’s important to home in on that last bit because it isn’t just end users who leverage PDM. Other people within the organization approve designs, or templates, and push things over the fence.
RS: Absolutely. You couldn’t be more correct. There are admins, secretaries, owners and everyone else in between that still need access. PDM wants to facilitate a collaborative environment with all departments—that’s the goal! We have customers who have really tapped into the PDM functionalities and they do their reporting on there, they do time-off requests there—a lot of procedural things—so it’s a big deal to be able to access the environment as easily as possible (no matter who you are).
M: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, how do customers know if they have PDM Web2? You said it’s basically anyone with PDM Pro?
RS: That is correct. You need to have PDM Pro. To see if you have Web2 or not, feel free to give us a call and have us look in your environment…we can tell you. I don’t want to get super technical, but you can look at IIS, that’s usually accessible on your server, to see for yourself. But again, if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate in reaching out. We can tell you.
File Management AND Streamlined Communication
M: Okay, so clear call to action to our viewers, give us a call if you’re not sure. Got it. Alright. So far, we’ve learned about some great options for working offline, we’ve shared nuggets for our existing PDM customers, all the while showcasing the value to our customers who might not have been evaluating PDM until now. Am I missing anything? Is there anything else you want to make sure our customers know?
RS: I think you got all of it. I just want people to walk away and understand that PDM can help expedite and simplify their processes now more than ever. For instance, both Standard and Pro can facilitate notifications between users when certain things reach certain stages and workflows. This is useful because, again, we don’t have the luxury to walk over to a colleague and talk about a specific file that we’re both working on. PDM doesn’t only facilitate that dialogue, it also automates that workflow through notifications about where a project is in its lifetime. Standard shows the notifications while you’re logged into the vault and Pro can take things a step further by notifying you through emails. As a result, you can see it on your phone and you’re always informed whether you’re logged into your machine or not. You know what’s happening.
M: That’s an excellent way for us to wrap up. PDM can, and should, be used to manage standard procedures within an organization. I believe we’ve always understood the strength that PDM held for file management. I think during these circumstances we’re learning more about another quintessential strength of PDM, which is streamlining communication. It can be a little challenging to speak to every person in your company when everyone is suddenly and unexpectedly working remote. Alright, I want to thank you for your time and your insight. It means a lot.
RS: Sure, thank you.
M: And to our customers…. I hope you found this useful. It is our absolute pleasure to support and serve you. Now more than ever, we’re ready to show up (even if that’s just virtually) and be the partner you need. We’re here for you. We’re listening. We’re open to leaning into each other during this time—and we’re confident that we will come out stronger. Thanks again.