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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Over the past 9 years my team and I have gradually prepared exactly this – it’s currently spread out in about 600 Word doc’s, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, and Visio Diagrams on a network drive available to our team, along with zillions of notes spread thru descriptions of reports, preferences, etc. Diagrams and “cheat sheets” provided to users have made huge difference in our success. Maybe all this could be compiled and made available somehow ☺

[cid:image001.png@01CF28B7.1C03EFE0]

There are very large number of decisions that need to be made in order to use the system in the optimum way for each particular business. MANY of the default configurations and settings need to be changed. It’s definitely challenging to document what you’ve decided to do, then configure the system to match, then test to confirm - ongoing. These decisions affect many people’s daily work in a major way. Many are tough to change after they are in use.

The documentation feels like it’s addressing a bizarre and strange world to those of us who came to PLM from Engineering and CAD admin. Likely the CAD side of things feels that way for those who come from an IT operations background.


Note: We have had quite good experience with tech support in general – but success is highly dependent on phrasing the questions and supplying a lot of screen captures.
18 REPLIES 18
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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Obviously,Mike's intentions here is to help, and I applaud his efforts which have frequently helped others, including myself..
Unfortunately, Mike also confirmed Buddy's concern by admitting that his company needed to create 600 support documents.

Bottom line: Windchill is too difficult to administer due to scattered documentation, knowledge required in multiple technologies that are not coverred by Windchill documentation. I would add that the PTC makes it worse with exceptionally poor documentation, that is frequently incorrect/misleading, or has completely missing topics & examples.


Gerry Champoux
Williams International
Walled Lake, MI



In Reply to Mike Lockwood:


Over the past 9 years my team and I have gradually prepared exactly this – it’s currently spread out in about 600 Word doc’s, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, and Visio Diagrams on a network drive available to our team, along with zillions of notes spread thru descriptions of reports, preferences, etc. Diagrams and “cheat sheets” provided to users have made huge difference in our success. Maybe all this could be compiled and made available somehow ☺

There are very large number of decisions that need to be made in order to use the system in the optimum way for each particular business. MANY of the default configurations and settings need to be changed. It’s definitely challenging to document what you’ve decided to do, then configure the system to match, then test to confirm - ongoing. These decisions affect many people’s daily work in a major way. Many are tough to change after they are in use.

The documentation feels like it’s addressing a bizarre and strange world to those of us who came to PLM from Engineering and CAD admin. Likely the CAD side of things feels that way for those who come from an IT operations background.

Note: We have had quite good experience with tech support in general – but success is highly dependent on phrasing the questions and supplying a lot of screen captures.

From: BuddyHudson [mailto:-]
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Gerry , PTC is not lying to you about their Tech Support training documentation not being available to the public.....

Have you ever worked with Tech Support? It is obvious there is not training, that is why they can't share it publically.
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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Hi guys,


When I read this, I just want to laugh how true this is.


I really wish PTC Windchill knowledge and user manuals was all in a wiki and google searchable. Even this forum is not google searchable. All the great feedback andsolutionsfrom everyone is lost in time.


I'm now copying my stuff in here and putting it here:


http://ezcollab.com


Just a keeping up the hope,


Patrick

In Reply to Mike Lockwood:


Over the past 9 years my team and I have gradually prepared exactly this – it’s currently spread out in about 600 Word doc’s, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, and Visio Diagrams on a network drive available to our team, along with zillions of notes spread thru descriptions of reports, preferences, etc. Diagrams and “cheat sheets” provided to users have made huge difference in our success. Maybe all this could be compiled and made available somehow ☺

[cid:image001.png@01CF28B7.1C03EFE0]

There are very large number of decisions that need to be made in order to use the system in the optimum way for each particular business. MANY of the default configurations and settings need to be changed. It’s definitely challenging to document what you’ve decided to do, then configure the system to match, then test to confirm - ongoing. These decisions affect many people’s daily work in a major way. Many are tough to change after they are in use.

The documentation feels like it’s addressing a bizarre and strange world to those of us who came to PLM from Engineering and CAD admin. Likely the CAD side of things feels that way for those who come from an IT operations background.


Note: We have had quite good experience with tech support in general – but success is highly dependent on phrasing the questions and supplying a lot of screen captures.
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Fellow ‘chillers,

I couldn’t agree more with the gripes about the hundreds (a thousand or more?) of pages of PTC’s WC Admin material spread across a dozen or so “Guides”. It’s absurd and a h-u-g-e burden on WC admins. A real time-killer and thus a money-eater.

I only have about 1-1/2 of WC admin experience but like many in my shoes I started out cold. And plowing through those Guides is like reading War and Peace.

The bulk of material alone is worthy of complaints, but the structure and verbal gobbly-goop of the contents adds insult to injury. Many otherwise ordinary words used in the Guides have two meaning and the reader doesn’t realize that until well after having read a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire chapter.

For instance, the word “organization” sometimes refers to the Company for which you work…, and sometimes it means “Organization” in the sense of Windchill hierarchy. That is, of course, a vast difference in meaning. And yet “organization” is seldom capitalized or bolded, etc., to convey its meaning in the context of the word’s usage. And “organization” is just ONE example. There are many, many others throughout the Guides. It’s maddening.

And many explanations of a topic in ONE Guide refer the reader to OTHER Guides! Are you kidding me? After reading 50 pages on a topic, PTC’s authors need to refer the reader to several other multi-hundred-page Guides?!?

All these impediments only add to the difficulty in understanding an already complex subject and an even more complex software scheme.

Perhaps users could have forgiven PTC for such documentation during the initial release of WC. But the product is “mature” (don’t laugh too hard at that one…) and now there is no forgiving the time and money PTC’s customers have had to chew-up.

I’m not a ranter by nature, and I find no pleasure in bashing PTC or any vendor. But PTC has made a challenging undertaking (i.e. deploying a PLM package) even more challenging. Nearly unbearable. I could give PTC a real earful.

Between the engineering parts of my career, I spent many years developing and delivering MCAD training. PTC has clearly made a choice that enabling customers to easily install, config, and manage their own PLM is not high on PTC’s priority list. The proof is the lack of reasonable Guides.

I’d love PTC to prove me wrong. I’d love a great, single, task-oriented, step-by-step How-To Guide complete with the same hierarchy sketches, ACL guidelines, Lifecycle diagrams, etc., as we admins have had to develop on our own to understand what the hell is going on. I’d buy that Guide in a heartbeat. But I don’t see any signs of PTC publishing that single Guide anytime soon.

My only solace: I see that many of you have had (or are having) the same experience as I have. And I never entirely give up the hope that PTC will read enough of our hardships in the Forums and choose to do something about it. Where’s the Young Buck at PTC who is trying to make a name for himself (herself) by making customers so happy that they send unsolicited letters of praise to Big Daddy Heppelmann?

We all await that Young Buck.


Scott Pearson
Senior Designer
CAD System Administrator

[cid:image007.png@01CF28D0.C5E5BCF0]S O U T H W E S T R E S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E®
Space Science and Engineering Division
Space Systems Directorate
Department of Space Engineering
6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

I am probably NOT looking forward to implementing Windchill. Well said though. Documentation for a standard user needs to be readdressed. I miss having a decent PRINTED  copy of the help manuals. There used to be "decent" how-to diagrams. Now the graphics have been scrunched down into a 2" x 3" image. NOT GOOD.



>
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

I can search part of the PTC community on the Google but not all recent activity. I wonder how much content could be "Googled" and accessible. [cid:image001.png@01CF28CD.02C73490]
Of course there is still a need for structured documentation. Also I think that we have so much content on the PTCUser.org website which could be opened?
Thanks,
Preeti
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Hello Buddy

you putting your finger where it hurts. I do not consider Windchill as an engineering tool/toy but as a business system and as a business system it is very complex (and must be very complex). I surprise sometimes people from the ERP world when I show them that PLM can in fact be as complex if not more than ERP to implement (again it depend on how much you want to use of your PLM suite and how much integration you want.

I agree with you that there are lot of external and internal documentation and that often you need show how to translate it into your own company practices. PTC like and other software company try to make their product as flexible as possible so it can be used anymore. The dark side of it is that the higher the flexibility the more complexity it has. This is without mentioning the level of customisation each company may want to implement (one can question what is the need of customisation if the system is so flexible. One of the flexibility is to be customisable and on the other hand many companies want to stick to their current (very old) processes/practices and want the system to work their way rather than embrassing new, more efficient, working practices. (look how many people work with ProE,NX, Catia but still think 2D ..... )

Therefore, even if having a Windchill Admin for dummies sounds like a great idea, how useful will it be ? Usually this type of book cover the basics with some tips for beginners. If you are an advanced user/admin you may then find a couple of good trips here and then but really what would be the difference between buying the book and be limited to what has been covered by the author or go on the net and discuss with your peers, PTC etc.... In addition, every couple of years bring new thing and the book will be up dated (Will it be Windchill 9.1 (we got a lot to say about it) for Dummies, or 10.2 (hardly no one knows).


I would personnally prefer joining a recognized community (such as ptcusers). I have learnt a lot from that community and I hope, at least some of the members have learnt from me (Community is about sharing and even if one may believe not to be as competent as certain Guru out there, we all have something to share, something we experience and each company is different while doing the same thing ie PLM).

Sorry Buddy, I do share your frustration (and agree with the quality of Tech Support, not sure if it is because they got more customers they can handle or simply because all the nice talks they have about education etc is only for their customer and not internal staff....) I do not see any benefits of having such a book. Especially if you have already your hands in administration.

Let's PTCuser community be the best. Join us, and share with us your experience. We all have/need to learn from each other and let's make PLM be the 21st century revolution 🙂






Le Jeudi 13 février 2014 20h40, "Lockwood, Mike" <mike.lockwood@alcon.com> a écrit :


Over the past 9 years my team and I have gradually prepared exactly this – it’s currently spread out in about 600 Word doc’s, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, and Visio Diagrams on a network drive available to our team, along with zillions of notes spread thru descriptions of reports, preferences, etc. Diagrams and “cheat sheets” provided to users have made huge difference in our success. Maybe all this could be compiled and made available somehow J


There are very large number of decisions that need to be made in order to use the system in the optimum way for each particular business. MANY of the default configurations and settings need to be changed. It’s definitely challenging to document what you’ve decided to do, then configure the system to match, then test to confirm - ongoing. These decisions affect many people’s daily work in a major way. Many are tough to change after they are in use.

The documentation feels like it’s addressing a bizarre and strange world to those of us who came to PLM from Engineering and CAD admin. Likely the CAD side of things feels that way for those who come from an IT operations background.


Note: We have had quite good experience with tech support in general – but success is highly dependent on phrasing the questions and supplying a lot of screen captures.
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Hey Buddy,

Have you ever tried going through
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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Hi Shashikanth,


Just to give you some feedback on https://precisionlms.ptc.com. That training is really meant for end user UI training. It does not encompass all the required Administration knowledge required for keeping Windchill alive and performing well. Some sites like http://ezcollab.com/ are making that attempt to be globally presentable, searchable, indexed, and easily accessible.


You got to either love this stuff by enjoy making it streamline or hate it because it is never ending. Working with any PTC Windchill Suite of tools, you have to have almost expertise in all fields of:



  • Windchill UI functionality in the entire suite of Windchill (limitations and gaps) even between versions

  • Windchill Data Model (or proper Data Architectual Model beyond the limitations of Windchill)

  • Multi-tiered system archtitecture [web-server, servlet engines (load balanced), method servers (foreground and backgrounds), clusters (web-server/hardware limitations) or monolithic (multi-core/socket hardware, Linux VM (no hardware limitations))

  • Windchill Application Architecture java with heirarchy of classes, methods and html template/js with some AJAX now based on both the data model and imbedded code (limitations and gaps). With the vision of true intended business functionality or just limitations of programming architecture

  • System Infrastructure Architect with some knowledge how this beast (large implementations) can be tuned to perform with the business requirements:

    • LAN or WAN (multiple nics for user, backups, SANs), switches

    • DNS

    • AD (multiple forest)

    • OS (Red Hat Linux, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX, Windows)

    • java versions with 64 bit and 32 bit

    • servers (blades, clusters, different VM hosting enviroments and their limitations)

    • SANs with different blocks sizes, formats, LUNs, mounts, types backups, restores

    • Databases of Oracle, SQL Server and hopefully in the future PostgreSQL (thanks Les (Comdev))

    • Windchill WGMintegration (MCAD, ECAD, XML Documents, software)

    • Index Search Tools

    • Reporting tools with Cognos, Query Builder, Custom

    • Customizations to fit Windchill Solution and Business Architecture

    • Code management with deployment methods

    • UATs, load and performance testing

    • communication between applications (web services which is now old technology)

    • latest technology of all the above


  • Understanding of CRM, PDM, PLM, PIM, CM/CMII, MRP, ERP.

  • and much, much more


Dave Demay is absolutely correct, you have to have experience on breaking it to understand the gaps, limitations and how to improve it. You have to be completely flexible with the all the above points to provide the best solution that meet your needs of the business and not just IT infrastructure or your own experience. Technology constantly changes and sometimes provides huge jumps of improvements to provide solutions to where you were finding chaos before.


Which is why I love the term chaotic. I don't believe 1 individual can be an expert in all these fields. You either need a great team to produce all the best practices of documentation that will pull all their experiences into hundreds of forms of documentation to capture all types of environments and conditions to fit the needs of the business/customer. Spending millions and the business impact/risk of failure is high. According to some industry averages 90% of PLM/ERP implementations fail. So, getting it right the first time or making sure you have placed the proper foundation so you can scale/grow you implementation properly with the right vision and overall understanding of the overall business solution is very important.


CRM, PLM, MRP and ERP tools of Windchill, Enovia, MatrixOne, TeamCenter, Agile, SAP, JD Edwards, BAAn, DocumentX, Sharepoint, People Soft, etc, are to necessary to achieve the overall business solution. A lot of these tools can overlap on providing functionality to achieve the end goal of the overall business solution. It's all a matter of implementation balance between the tools or even just one that you need to achieve your goal. You have to know the overall business requirements even before simplifying or else it becomes not scalable or integratible between solutions. "Engineering tool" versus "PLM tool" versus "PIM tool" that’s the level you have to either simplify (Pro/INTRALINK) or take it beyond. Once you achieve one level, the business may expect you to go to the next level that they are having problems managing.Authoring and managing the information is an art sometimes. Making it run lightning fast and painless is another art.


Good luck,


Patrick




In Reply to Shashikanth Shankaracharya:


Hey Buddy,

Have you ever tried going through https://precisionlms.ptc.com or PTC University? I think it would be very helpful to you.

Thanks,
Shashi
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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

PTC's removal ofIntralink as a solution leaves the majority of those who have no need for Windchill's extensive capabilities no way to readily control only their CAD data.


What is surprising is the apparent need for an in-house team that is larger and more capable than the Windchill development team to reverse engineer Windchill to use it.


x

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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

I looked at ezcollab and wondered why create another support site? PTCUser and the PTC Communities site already cover the need well; as, to a lesser extent,does Eng-Tips and probably dozens of others.


Getting answers to questions on a particular topic does not improve with an increased number of places to ask because it justleaves the number of people who can answer less likely to find and respond while increasing the chances of getting poor answers.


It does bring to mind a great anti-company strategy. Create so many support websites for a product that infrequent or new users can't find the useful ones and assume the product is poorly supported by a community.

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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

WC Documentation sucks! When I'm calling PTC support to help resolve sometimes simple issues on our Linux / clustered instance: ohhh we do not have clustered image availabe, ohhh we do not use Linux version as our test instaces, frustration was beyond any possible levels.....


BUT hello! let's not finish this week in pesimistic way, 10.3 will be a LOT BETTER!! - I do not have ANY doubts about that !?!?!? 🙂 - do you?

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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Hi everyone:


Let me step in and make some suggestions and define a list of action that might address the concerns in this thread.


What is see is both high level of frustration and some acknowledgement that ths is difficult stuff. I agree with both sides. There are improvements we can and are making to the product and documentation to address the administrative processes and tooling associated with Windchill.


And I suspect everyone on this thread recognizes that running an enterprise system as important and powerful as PLM (any vendor's version) is a large sophisticated job. Let's take some of the energy in this thread and refine it to a point where I can bring it into our product planning / priortization process for resolution.


Please contact me directly (email -) if you want to be included in a small meeting (I'll organize) to discuss your concerns and try to address them in a systematic fashion.


Thanks,


Jon Bachman
VP of Product Management
Windchill and Enterprise Infrastructure
PTC


-

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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

Better is all relative! Better than 6.2.6, where I started using PDMlink, YES. Better than 9.1, where I am now, yes. Better than 10.0, where I am trying to get to, I certainly hope so.

Your first sentence sums it up for all of us. Mike hit the nail on the head with his 600+ created documents to document how his company manages Windchill. Even PTC in their own documentation say you need to "Create a Work Instruction Document"* as the first step in an upgrade. I run 3 sets of Windchill servers. One is unclassified where I do OOTB testing, implementation, upgrades and documentation creation. I then have a test and production set of systems in a classified environment. I have to be sure I get my questions answered on the unclassified side because no one can see my classified side systems outside our office.

*Windchill Upgrade Guide, Release 9.x to Release 10.0, Windchill 10.0 M040, May 2013, Chapter 2 - The Windchill Upgrade Procedure

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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

I find it funny that PTC sells software that allow XML tagging so a company can generate owners manuals specific to a complex product that is configure to order but can not figure out how to use the same product to deliver admin guides specific to a companies Windchill configuration. I should be able to select the configuration architecture option from an overloaded BOM and the 100+ admin guides, best practices, white papers, etc... Should filter out all of the useless information that is not specific to my configuration.




On Feb 14, 2014, at 11:15 AM, "Loosli, Ben H" <-<<a style="COLOR:" blue;=" text-decoration:=" underline&quot;=" target="_BLANK" href="mailto:-">>">mailto:->> wrote:

Better is all relative! Better than 6.2.6, where I started using PDMlink, YES. Better than 9.1, where I am now, yes. Better than 10.0, where I am trying to get to, I certainly hope so.

Your first sentence sums it up for all of us. Mike hit the nail on the head with his 600+ created documents to document how his company manages Windchill. Even PTC in their own documentation say you need to “Create a Work Instruction Document”* as the first step in an upgrade. I run 3 sets of Windchill servers. One is unclassified where I do OOTB testing, implementation, upgrades and documentation creation. I then have a test and production set of systems in a classified environment. I have to be sure I get my questions answered on the unclassified side because no one can see my classified side systems outside our office.

*Windchill Upgrade Guide, Release 9.x to Release 10.0, Windchill 10.0 M040, May 2013, Chapter 2 – The Windchill Upgrade Procedure

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RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

After venting off I must say I was somewhat unfair to PTC.


One advice to future users or who are thinking of expanding WC that we “all know that” but somehow ending up there many times anyway:


Make sure you have big IT budget and strong C level support (and I mean strong and committed beyond the phase of enthusiasm after talking to PTC sales reps and signing for example $0.1M, $1M or $10M contract)


If you do not have this don’t go there. You will dedicate your best IT people and without money (to get decent consultants if needed) , without decent WC documentation and decent PTC support those good people will burnout and you will be left without people and system. Been there, done that.


So really PTC documentation and support are only additional variables causing the frustration but “decisions” were made and we march on!

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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

I like PTC's documentation. Yes, its a lot, but most of it is excellent
once you find the right manual.

As for documenting the site-specific configurations and changes, I agree
that there is a huge opportunity for PTC to help us out.

I bet if they looked at all the places that have "Comments" and add some
additional hangers for comments, that they could generate a "Windchill
Doc" that makes online help files in HTML that list out all the
configurations and their comments in a reasonable way. For example,
lifecycle templates have comments, as do worflow template, activity
template in the workflow templates, even contexts have "descriptions" and
context preferences have "Descriptions" and when you edit them they have
"Comments."

If you could add comments to light types, IBAs, Administrative Domains,
individual access control rules, OIRs, etc, then run a build job to
travers all the site-created comments for anything that was modified from
initial installation, you might generate something that looks like the
Windchill Help only showing all the things you changed with your own
comments as to why you changed them. The system would be mostly self
documenting, and you might not need many word files and spreadsheets
documenting all your configurations that are then hard to maintain over
time.

Al







[solutions] - RE: [Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so
cryptic!

Hendrickson, Marc
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[Windchill] - Why is Windchill Administration so cryptic!

For file-system-based configuration, e.g. xconfs, Apache configuration,
etc, this can be achieved by managing the files in a version control
system, complete with extensive comments for all changes, a history of
all changes, an ability to rollback, etc.

For configurations in the software itself, an ability to add comments in
all of these places would obviously require enhancements to the software.

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