For this episode of the “PLM Quick 30,” we’re excited to welcome our two summer interns, Melissa Dove and Griffin Lynch. Melissa is a rising senior at Purdue University where she is studying industrial engineering. Griffin is a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh where he studies computer science, mathematics, and philosophy. We discuss how their university courses transfer to the PLM consulting industry and their impressions thus far of what their summer working at ArcherGrey will entail.
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The transcript is close to a literal transcript of the spoken word. Please excuse any grammatical errors, spelling errors or break in the flow. The podcast is a non-scripted conversation with natural flow aimed to deliver value.
Melissa: I’m really excited to have an internship with ArcherGrey because I’m looking forward to taking everything that I’ve learned in my Engineering and Statistics classes, and being able to apply it to like a real-world business setting.
Griffin: And I’m looking forward to trying to see how my strengths will be applicable to this because I think consulting is sort of a weird mix of, you kind of take a lot of different pieces of expertise that you pick up throughout the years and work them together.
Patrick: Hello everybody. My name is Patrick Sullivan. This is ArcherGrey’s PLM quick 30. And I’m super excited today because we have internships established, and we’ve got excellent junior consultants here in our internship program. They are students at Purdue and Pitt. And we’re going to have a conversation with them and actually this is going to be a multi-series Podcast event.
Patrick: And so we’re going to capture the essence of them at the beginning of this internship. They started this past Monday. So we’re going to take a status check on this Podcast and then as we progress through the summer, we’re going to check back in with them and see how things have evolved related to their fluency and digital transformation and PLM.
Patrick: So Griffin, Melissa, welcome to the Podcast.
Griffin: Happy to be here.
Melissa: Thank you for having us.
Patrick: Yeah, it’s going to be fun. So everybody buckle up. Let’s start off with some introductions here. And let’s get everybody to have the opportunity to get to know you a little bit better.
Patrick: So Melissa, why don’t you introduce yourself, tell us what you’re majoring in and something you’re looking forward to this summer aside from this internship with ArcherGrey.
Melissa: Sure. So my name is Melissa Dove. I am going to be a senior studying Industrial Engineering at Purdue university. I’m really excited to have an internship with ArcherGrey this summer because I’m looking forward to taking everything that I’ve learned in my Engineering and Statistics classes and being able to apply it to like a real world business setting. And work with the Oshkosh Defense in Wisconsin and see how PLM applies to their company.
Patrick: Yeah. Great. Thanks. Thanks for that introduction. Griffin.
Griffin: Hey. My name’s Griffin Lynch. I am a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I Study Computer Science, Math and Philosophy there. And I’m looking forward to kind of trying to see how my strengths will be applicable to this because I think consulting is sort of a weird mix of, you kind of take a lot of different pieces of expertise that you pick up throughout the years and work them together.
Griffin: Because I mean there isn’t like a consulting major. You kind of have to take what you have and then just listen and be good at critical thinking. And those are kind of the major things. And I’m excited to see what I can do with that.
Patrick: Yeah. Well, we’re excited to have you both on board. Thanks for the introductions. And so this first week, well, let’s talk a little bit about your college experiences and some of your favorite courses and then we’ll kind of step into, it’s Friday, the first week of orientation here at ArcherGrey. So I’d like to reflect on that and then look to your impression of what’s to come so we can reflect back in a month or two and have another conversation to see what you’ve been exposed to, and how your opinions may have formed a little bit differently. And your perspectives may have changed a bit.
Patrick: So rewinding a bit and talking about school, why don’t we talk, what are some of your favorite courses or topics and why you’ve selected specific majors and how that aligns with what you’re looking to experience through this internship.
Melissa: Yeah. So within Industrial Engineering, I’ve had a lot of experience with working on projects with teams, project management. So I think in terms of an overarching theme of engineering at Purdue, there’s a lot of emphasis on having a plan and executing it in like organized and logical means.
Melissa: So I’m excited to kind of, I think that’ll apply a lot to product life cycle management itself because there’s a lot of steps to everything and there’s a logical flow through that process. So to be able to kind of take everything I’ve learned working on projects in school and apply it there, I think it’ll translate in an interesting way.
Melissa: And so also with those projects, like each project is kind of built around a specific topic. So I’m excited to see how maybe like some of those specific topics that I’ve learned about will apply. For instance, some of my favorite courses at Purdue, I’m really interested in the operations research side of industrial engineering. So that kind of goes along with system modeling and optimization.
Melissa: I had done some projects a little bit around that of kind of building a model around a situation and then trying to find how we can kind of tweak that model to make it better and ultimately optimize to get the best results.
Melissa: And then another class that I’ve taken at Purdue was a computing class that is focused on industrial engineering systems. And so to see how things such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and internet of things are kind of becoming the future of the business world. It’s something that we’ve talked about in classes but it’s different when you’re sitting in a lecture hall versus you’re out and hopefully getting experience with that in the real world.
Patrick: Yeah. I mean it’s definitely applicable. And it’s interesting as you talk about projects, one question that came to mind is, have there been due dates where you’ve been against a due date that you had to be resourceful, creative in order to hit that due date? Because you talked about a sequence of flow and a plan which is super important because it gives everybody something to focus on on how to move forward.
Patrick: But then you start to discover new information which impacts the direction that you may be headed and you have to be able to react and still hit that due date on the other side, which is quite frankly, I assume it happened in some of those projects. Did you experience that?
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. So with several like larger projects that I had to work on, there was different phases that each had their own kind of due dates. And so as you’re working on each phase, you’re getting a different idea of like, how much work there really is and how it all kind of adds up. And so when you’re working against the deadline, you have to be strategic and you know what you’re trying to get done in that phase and how it is going to then lead into the next phase.
Melissa: And that’s something that I noticed when we were talking a lot about PLM this past week, was there’s kind of like those checkpoints throughout the process. And if you’re behind at the first checkpoint that’s going to kind of trickle over down the line. So yeah.
Patrick: Yeah. And sometimes you have to be resourceful and maybe working a bit more efficiency and realizing that 100% isn’t necessarily the goal. 80% can get you to where you need to be in order to ensure that you’re hitting the deadline. But making sure that the quality’s there where you’re not jeopardizing end product.
Melissa: Yeah. My freshman year, first year engineering professor, he talked about that and how to get to 80% of where you want to be, will take say like six months, but then to get to like 90% just like the extra 10% will take an extra year.
Melissa: So it’s kind of you have to decide what’s worth it, in terms of finding a balance between time and quality because the closer you try to get to 100% the longer it takes.
Patrick: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a comment from experience, it sounds like. All right, great. Thanks for that feedback. I appreciate it. So Griffin, from your perspective, what are some of your favorite courses that you’ve taken and how do you hope to apply it?
Griffin: Yeah. So thought it was kind of interesting Melissa that you were talking about kind of modeling logical systems because that’s kind of the one through line that I see for my three majors. So philosophy is kind of all about taking logic and applying it to life.
Griffin: Math is obviously one of the most strictly logical subjects you can study. And then computer science, the whole idea is kind of we manage to get rocks to think. So now how do we make them think in a very intelligent manner? And so that through line and being able to look at everything through, first, let’s try and get a model for it and see how it works out, see what the implications of that model are and see how we can develop it to a point where it both reflects the situation that we’re trying to model, at least well enough that we’re getting the right results 80% of the time.
Griffin: And then using that model, whether it’s a computer science model or studying ethics, looking at different situations and seeing what your model is telling you you should be doing and seeing how we can apply that to real life or production environments. And so I think that those skills which I picked up throughout, I mean a bunch of different classes you kind of get, I took a proofs class and this was a philosophy class actually.
Griffin: And basically it was, I mean it was a super easy class. It took a very small amount of brain power because all you had to do was sit down and learn this very, very small topic and then just apply it a bunch of times. And it’s like an introductory philosophy course. And if it wasn’t required for the major, I probably wouldn’t have taken it.
Griffin: But it was, I mean it’s easily the most important class I’ve ever taken just because before I took that class, I didn’t have a good mental model of how like just proofs work. And so I struggled in math. I would have struggled in the theoretical computer science class I took this last semester. But because of that class, which kind of forced me to just repetitively work a good model of how to build a logical structure and figure out what the through line between everything is.
Griffin: That class I’d say is easily, I mean it’s been foundational to helping me succeed in math, succeed in philosophy and do a lot better in computer science because you don’t necessarily need that skill in computer science. But if you want to really, really deliver success, it’s one of the most important things.
Patrick: I mean those are interesting comments because especially, well, I mean really in any field when you’re talking about developing software systems, I mean systems are designed to perform a function. And at the end of the day, somebody’s consuming either that technology or inputting data into it, which ultimately results in product or information or decisions being made.
Patrick: And so it’s awesome to hear that you’re getting, one, that exposure that helps shape your perception of not just fulfilling a requirement, for instance, if you’re coding software. But thinking about how it’s applied, the relationships it has with the technology and more importantly what problem you’re looking to solve and who’s going to be consuming it in what way?
Patrick: So with that holistic perspective, ultimately you’re going to be developing architecting software that’s meeting a need in the marketplace. That’s awesome. Cool. So thanks for sharing that.
Patrick: So transitioning into ArcherGrey’s first week orientation, I guess to piggyback off of what you just said, there’s, I don’t know, there’s probably more, but I’m going to say three areas that are important from a consulting perspective to look for and to pay attention to as you’re kind of going through this from my perspective.
Patrick: The first is the consulting side. They’re like soft skills, being able to interact with the client and like we were just talking about being able to understand what the requirements are. Why is it important? Who’s going to use it? How is it used? And so that’s the understanding aspect of it. To dig into some of those details. So the consulting side.
Patrick: Then there’s the technical side, like understanding whatever the technology that’s going to be applied and the different ways that it could be applied and how it connects. Like doing one function within that technology may impact another. So thinking downstream and upstream, is an important perspective.
Patrick: So the consulting side, the technology side, and then the analytical side. So being able to look at multiple pieces of the puzzle and looking at it from an analysis perspective of, again the impact but a little bit different, more of problem solving than it is specifically tactical from the technology perspective.
Patrick: So with that comment, let’s talk about orientation. How did it go this week?
Melissa: It went well. There is a lot of information that we had to kind of digest in the last few days. And it’s been really interesting to actually get it. It started at a very high level, with kind of just understanding like what ArcherGrey does, what kind of softwares that PTC has.
Melissa: And then going more in-depth at the different softwares that they offer. So we were even able to kind of have like a little WebEx meeting with some representatives from PTC who walked us through what their programs do. And so being able to even see the user interface was very eyeopening. I guess to see exactly what Windchill is for example, and how that can help a business and how there’s so much that goes into it.
Melissa: It’s huge amounts of data and information and it’s not only just how to like inputting that data and storing that data, but then knowing what to do with it to be able to better the business processes. And so as it goes through product life cycle management, how we can make it more efficient. For example, the change management process and how you can more quickly deal with problems that might arise and fix them and be able to then have better ultimately finished product.
Patrick: Yeah. Yeah. Well that’s a good insight for the first week. So I’m glad that, well thank you to PTC for helping give you exposure to Windchill on the systems associated to it. So Griffin, how about you? What were some of your first impressions this week?
Griffin: I’d say so far what I’ve learned is that there’s probably going to be three main distinctive things that we’re going to be learning over the summer. So we’ve been covering the software Windchill most extensively. And we’ve been seeing kind of from the documentation what it’s like to run Windchill in an optimal environment, and kind of the sub structure of how all that works and what in a perfect world the business would be using it for.
Griffin: And I think that the optimal efficiency is something that we’re going to be striving for and trying to make work, especially for Oshkosh because we’re going to be working there. But the second topic is obviously going to be challenges that you’re going to run through and figure out from the implementation perspective because we don’t live in a perfect world.
Griffin: I know that there kind of … are we allowed to talk about like challenges that Oshkosh is having? I mean like, just because I know that they’re doing like moving data from their old system into the new system, but I’m not sure how much of that I’m allowed to talk about.
Patrick: Yeah. So, well, yeah, glad you asked the question. Yes. It’s apparent they have moved to a new platform and their enterprise platform is a PTCs Windchill. In fact, we should be releasing a Podcast with Brent in the coming weeks, quite frankly. And we’re doing a joint presentation at Liveworks on that journey.
Patrick: So yes, it’s public knowledge, but as far as talking about some of the details, we’ll probably want to. But migrating to a new platform because it’s important for their business, and in fact the name of the presentation that we’re doing in Liveworks is from-know-to-go.
Patrick: And so Brent, on the previous system, they had customized it and it had been, the business would come to them asking for enhancements, “Hey, look at this new technology. Can we implement this capability?” And the constant answer was, “No.” Because the particular platform that they were on didn’t allow for that extension.
Patrick: So now with PTCs products being implemented and Windchill specifically, they are getting requests from the business of, “Hey, can we go pursue this?” And it’s, “Yes we can, but should we?” Which is a super powerful position to be in because now you can leverage technology to actually achieve the things that you’re looking to from an organization.
Patrick: So go ahead with your thought.
Griffin: Yeah. No, that was actually one of the things that I found really interesting about Windchill, is that it obviously has these best practices coded in, but then it also has a lot of that configurability. That means that if you have an old technology that you need to plug in, you’re not going to have to necessarily always take all the old data, download it, scrub it, go through a whole months long cleaning process and then re upload it.
Griffin: More times than not Windchill’s like integration hooks, which I thought was very, I mean it makes the usability of it increase drastically, which I’ve been kind of admiring.
Griffin: And then kind of the third thing that is separate even from those other two, is just soft skills like interaction and whatever are very important. But sometimes the most important thing is just listen. Like you just need to like, so from an academic standpoint, what I’m used to with projects is you get a PDF. PDF has the exact description of the project and if you fill out everything that’s on that PDF, you code it up to spec and whatever, then you’re going to get 100%. And sometimes you’re not able to do that, sometimes it’s a timing thing, sometimes it’s you just end up not doing it.
Griffin: But with consulting, what I’ve been learning so far is that it’s a very different game. What’s most important is you go in and you have to start off by asking the right questions. You need to figure out what you can learn from them. And then second, you need to develop a good model of the problems. Even separate from what they’re saying, because more often than not, they have their own view of what’s going wrong, but they may not understand every detail of the underlying issue.
Griffin: They might say, “Hey, this software is crashing once every three or four days. Do you what’s up with that?” And then you realize it’s a problem with how the entire server is configured and you’ve only got a month to fix it before the entire system shuts down. I mean, not that I’ve heard anything like that, but just using that as an example.
Patrick: Right, right. Yeah. I mean, like we were saying before, changing one thing can impact multiple other things. And having that tear and discipline to think about it and more importantly track it down, it makes the difference in the quality of the services that are being provided. So all right, those are great.
Patrick: I was actually talking with Lewis Kennebrew. For people who don’t know Lewis, he’s a Senior Director of our Business Process Consulting practice and he helped with orientation this week. And he shared with me some of the activities and topics that he covered with you guys.
Patrick: I am interested, there was one in particular around bill of material that I’ve really thought hit home. I wish somebody would’ve done that for me when I started with ArcherGrey 12 years ago, but I thought it was awesome. Well, first of all, could you explain what that activity was? And then I’m interested to hear you guys’ opinion of that exercise.
Melissa: Yeah. So we were given a model plane that had about 40 pieces or so, no 30, I think somewhere around there. And it came all this assemble and we had to kind of go through and track the bill of materials in terms of all the different pieces of the plane. But then what I think I took away from the activity the most was that there is a lot more that goes into it than just the physical components that make up the plane.
Melissa: There was also a little screwdriver that was tooling that we needed to consider. And then there was packaging and so there was the engineering bill of materials and then there was the, what was it? Service-
Melissa: …. manufacturing answer. So there’s different types of bill of materials that all had to kind of be taking into consideration. So when we’re putting it together, we had to kind of consider those at different points. So when the plane was all done, sitting there completed, well then we had to think, “Okay. Well, now how does it get shipped out and to the customer?” Because that’s another step that is still a part of the overall process.
Patrick: Yeah. Great. Griffin, what’d you think of the exercise?
Griffin: I thought it was really cool. One of the things that Lewis has been talking about is he’s been sharing his own personal stories about consulting in various different corporations. And one of the things he always talks about is at the very beginning, there’s always a lot of push back from the different departments because the engineering department has their bill of materials and they think, “Oh, this completely describes the product and this is everything we need.”
Griffin: And then they send that off to the manufacturing department and the manufacturing department builds their own bill of materials and they’re like, “This is what we need for the chipping and the whatever.” And everything that goes into making sure we can send that to people.
Griffin: And then that goes over to the service department and they have their own bill of materials where they say, “These are the different parts we need to go out and send service parts off to different dealerships and stuff.”
Griffin: And so that activity was kind of, I mean it actually finally solidified what the difference was between the engineering, the manufacturing, the service bill of materials. Because before that I’d had this, kind of foggy idea that the bill of materials was like this list of parts and then somehow was different when you are actually building it versus when you had the engineers sitting there with the CAD document gallon.
Griffin: And then the service people had their own list of stuff that went into it. But I had no idea why. And so that was kind of vital and helped me understand like what Lewis was talking about when he said, “Bringing all of those departments together can start to cause great discussions.” Obviously because people start to realize what each other’s roles are and working together is always easier with communication.
Griffin: But that’s why that initial pushback happens is because everyone thinks this is what you need to build the product. Whereas, that’s not what everyone needs to build the product.
Patrick: Yeah. When he told me that he did that and the exercise around it, I thought, “wow.” Bill of material is a huge topic right now. As much as we’re talking about it enabling digital transformation, if you don’t have your house in order and the foundation set correctly, you can implement the new technology but taking full advantage of it so you can exponentially improve, you’ve got to have your house in order. And understanding those relationships with the bill of material is super important.
Patrick: I was meeting with a prospect earlier this week and in that group, the person who’s responsible for the PLM system is also responsible for the quoting process. And they’re looking to improve the quoting process. So you guys just talked about the engineering BOM, the manufacturing BOM and the service BOM and there’s efficiency to be gained there and awareness to have an understanding of what it takes to make that full product and maintain it.
Patrick: And then there’s the expectations that you’re setting when you’re quoting to, for instance, when a new project or whatever from a client perspective. So you have to take into account that downstream activity in order to sell it correctly so it’s profitable for the business. And how can you gain efficiency in making sure that you incorporate all those perspectives when you’re sending that quote out in the front end?
Patrick: But grasping the concept of bill of material and understanding how the information flows and how it impacts one another is huge. So that’s great. Thanks for sharing the feedback on that. So we’ve been in this conversation here for about 25 minutes and this is the ArcherGrey quick 30, so let’s wrap it up with one more question of what are you looking forward to the most over the next 10 weeks?
Griffin: That’s a tough one.
Melissa: I think I’m looking forward to kind of building relationships within ArcherGrey, and then also getting to know the people that work at Oshkosh because we are going to be having to work with them so closely and learn so much about their business. And so I’m looking forward to kind of working on those interpersonal skills.
Melissa: And in terms of, I’m excited to learn about all the technology side. But I think longterm benefits to my career, like who I am as a person will come a lot from also working with people and learning a lot from them because there’s only so much I can learn from a textbook or reading, going through an online module. I think I’m going to learn the most from interacting with different people.
Patrick: Great. We’ll certainly be checking back with you and revisiting that topic. So thanks for sharing that one. Griffin.
Griffin: I’d say I agree with that. It’s like you said, “There’s a big difference between what you learn in the classroom and what you learn in the real world.” And I think that one of the best things about this summer is that it’s going to get not just a surface level idea of what’s happening in the industry, but because we’re working as associate consultants, we’re going to be almost the top level view of what a company’s doing.
Griffin: So whereas a normal internship might put us in a back office doing data entry or whatever, we’re actually going to be sounding out how a company works and we’re going to be trying to understand what the industry needs of them, and what they are doing to make sure they meet the needs of their own clients, while we’re also doing that for ArcherGrey, for Oshkosh Defense.
Griffin: And so I think that, probably the key thing that this internship will help with is just giving the perspective of, it’s a perspective that we wouldn’t normally see because we’re going to get to peek behind the curtain a little bit. We’re going to understand the inner workings of a company and I mean maybe even see if we can help them sort it out a little.
Patrick: That’s great. Awesome. Perspective is key to everything. With a better perspective, you can make an impact, which is what I think we’re all here to do. So Griffin, Melissa, thanks very much for doing this Podcast with me. It’s been fun to talk to you guys about this, and I’m going to look forward to seeing how the summer progresses and then having you back in and have another conversation on the ArcherGrey PLM quick 30. Thanks again.
Griffin: That’s great.