The support-backed open source model also means that the pricing has nothing to do with deployment characteristics like number of seats, number of servers, or number of modules implemented. Henning says that's important because it gives him the freedom to move toward expanding his use of the software incrementally, without quite knowing when he will get the next phase of the project done or start to enjoy its benefits.
"We don't have a timeline - we really can't because of the constraints of the number of people we have to work on it," he says. Still, expansion of the PLM system is the one initiative that's moving forward at a time when "everything else is pretty much running with what we've got, as we've got it."
Ogihara initially implemented only one Aras module, for quality control, about a year and a half ago. The manufacturer is now gradually expanding into other aspects of PLM. In particular, Ogihara is using Aras to implement a system for managing engineering change orders handed down from its customers, a process that until now it has managed with paperwork, spreadsheets and phone calls.
"For us, this is what we see as a time saver, a people saver. It means we don't need a person running around to schedule changes and let everybody know this change is coming," Henning says. Resistance to the new automated process is likely to be minimal, given that staff reductions have left those employees who are left eager to find some way to get their work done more efficiently, he says.
"It's amazing what you find you can do when you must do," Henning says. "We always thought we had been a lean company from the start."