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PLM Teamcenter Upgrade: All you need to know to make it a success

PLM Teamcenter Upgrade
PLM Teamcenter Upgrade

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 the right version to upgrade?

The 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. The upgrade should be driven by the need to get the 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 the new version.

You can download the certification matrix from siemens website here  Synchronize your upgrade cycle so that you need not upgrade before 5-6 maintenance patches of the second latest version is released.

Which version to upgrade to?

Upgrading to the latest version is certainly tempting because of so much marketing and fanfare around the latest versions, but new versions always come with new bugs. Normally the second latest major version with the 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 the 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 by Siemens and/or need a new functionality and/or improve performance? Check if all the goals are getting met by the upgrade. Sometimes performance issues are not resolved by upgrade as the problem could be in the data model or database. Resolving those issues separately is recommended. List upgrade goals in terms of requirements and verify against the upgraded system in the 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 an 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 the current system after starting the 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 the 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 an upgrade. Extensive testing can find out deeply hidden problems that can stop operations after the 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 the 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 the test environment and needs special load testing scripts. Involving a lot of business users is also important as testing by vendors is mostly non-functional and away from the 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. A 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 an upgrade from TC8 to TC10 and then TC10 to TC12. The 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 the new version of database or Teamcenter. All layers must be carefully matched so that everything is supported for the next few years. Delays in the procurement of new hardware are also common as there is a dependency on other departments and vendors. Hence place an order well before in time. Sometimes you may have to reorder to satisfy RAID levels or comply with a backup strategy.

8. Move to a 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 the cloud for remote locations. Even though you are not ready to host the production environment on the cloud, try to host your sandbox or testing or training environment on the cloud to gain experience and be ready for the 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 the 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 wonders 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 on board for once by showing business benefits and ROI on upgrade investment.

You can create the calculation of your own benefit 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 the cost of business disruption due to unsupported software and risk of delaying product development.

Although these things are a necessity or obvious but showing, an 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 the certain number of times in these years. We help you in getting one-time approval and lucrative discount with a guarantee of success. Long term contract will give you peace of mind, and you can cancel the contract anytime if you are not satisfied.


Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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