• The Finding PLM to Fit Mid-Sized High-Tech Companies ebook explains how smaller companies in the high technology industry find themselves stuck between full-featured Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems that feel out of reach and less capable solutions including cloud-based file sharing or very basic data management applications. They know they can’t afford the errors and inefficiency inherent to informal data and process management, but can’t afford a large time, resource, and financial investment to fix their problems. Unfortunately simple solutions like web file sharing, while very attractive, fall … [ read more ]

    Finding PLM to Fit Mid-Sized High-Tech Companies
  • The How-to Guide to Transitioning from 2D CAD to 3D CAD  shares best practices for moving from 2D to 3D. The guide shares the reasons you should consider going from 2D to 3D, common challenges to avoid, and benefits enjoyed by other companies who gone to 3D. The guide then shares advice to make your switch from 2D to 3D CAD a success. The recommendations were developed by analyzing the responses of Top Performing companies and comparing them to Average Performing companies.This eBook is one in a series of three:Transitioning from 2D CAD to 3D CAD Migrating from 3D CAD to a new 3D CAD Adopting … [ read more ]

    Best Practices for Going from 2D to 3D CAD
  • The Reducing Cost of Quality in CPG report shares perspectives from a survey of over 175 CPG companies to determine how Top Performers manage consumer packaged goods quality. The research finds that these leading companies are able to achieve better quality results with lower internal costs. The report analyzes their processes, organizational structures, and enabling technology to determine how they can get better quality results without placing a financial burden on the business.Please enjoy the summary below, or click the report to download a PDF overview (free of charge, no registration … [ read more ]

    Reducing Cost of Quality for Consumer Packaged Goods (survey report)
  • What type of experiences prepare engineering students the best for "real world" industry work? What should new graduates know when they start their first job?Please share your experience, thoughts, and lessons learned in this new survey on the engineering skills gap. We are exploring questions such as, what types of things do you look for in a new graduate? How can engineering colleges and universities improve their curriculum to better prepare students for today's modern products?  What concerns do you have about the future engineering workforce?Developing the future workforce is critical to the … [ read more ]

    What Skills Do You Wish Engineering Graduates Had? (Survey Invite)
  • This infographic shares the importance of developing a cohesive digital thread when developing formulated products in the consumer packaged goods industry. The digital thread should be driven by customer requirements and incorporate the recipe / formulation, specifications, packaging design, compliance information, claims, cautions, ingredients, labeling, artwork, and more to provide a full view of the product and it's design history. An effective CPG Digital Thread relies on an integrated Product Innovation Platform to connect product data from early in the front end of innovation through development, … [ read more ]

    The CPG Digital Thread (infographic)

Solving PLM Process Problems with Kenesto

Share

I had the chance to talk with the team at Kenesto to understand how their new product helps companies improve product development and product lifecycle management challenges through process automation. I also wrote about them in an upcoming article about alternative solutions that solve PLM problems. They are an interesting company with some strong credentials in both PLM and process automation, and they are bringing a unique solution to market. They are bringing a unique solution to market, challenging the traditional solutions by offering something valuable yet less complex.

What do they Do?

Kenesto helps companies automate business processes. For example, if a company needs to send a document like an engineering change order (ECO) to several people for input and/or approval, they could use Kenesto to route the communication to the right people and make sure that it progresses in the right order. They can also attach information (like an ECO form) to the process. Making sure that everybody is on the same page and acting on the process as they should be keeps things moving efficiently and hopefully prevents things from falling in between the cracks. Or more likely, falling into an overloaded inbox. Most of these communications today are via e-mail, which quickly becomes a mess when people start to forward/reply and there are suddenly multiple threads and instances of the original communication. Instead, their is one central process, and e-mail is used only for notification when it is time to act.

Kenesto solves some of the challenges caused by e-mail, but also aims to keep things simple. Unlike some of the more rigid, pre-defined process automation tools, Kenesto was design to make it very easy to implement ad-hoc processes. As the team explained, the solution is built on the premise that people know the process or define one as they go. This contrasts with solutions where processes are effectively programmed (and/or rules-based) that are built to enforce compliance with a specific process. They did mention, however, that you can predefine processes if you like, which certainly makes a lot of sense.

What do they Offer

So what is Kenesto? That is an interesting question. The website has a clear statement, “Business process automation for manufacturers.” In a discussion on Kenesto in Engineering Matters, Kenesto CEO Mike Payne disagreed with me when I said Kenesto is a BPMS. He pointed out Gartner’s definition of a BPMS to explain why the solution is not one. It is true, Kenesto does not fit that model. If I recall my history correctly, BPMS started with some really great workflow / business process automation concepts before it exploded and was assimilated into enterprise integration architecture vendors. So I will go on record saying Kenesto is not a BPMS by that definition, far from it. To me, though, it was what BPMS was meant to be before it became middleware. I guess I am not so concerned about what “bucket” to put it into. Analysts and software vendors often spend a lot of energy worrying about what category a solution fits in, and admittedly there are some practical considerations. But more importantly, I would rather focus on what it does.

Kenesto manages the flow of work and information between concerned parties. Call it what you want. The important things to realize from my perspective are:

  • Product development / product lifecycle management involve lots of people, and they need to communicate. Kenesto does that.
  • That communication benefits from the ability to share information with the group. Kenesto does that through attachments (and some level of data, that I still need to understand a bit better).
  • The communication benefits from having a status and named participants, with knowledge of what has been done and who is due to act. Kenesto does that.
  • The communication should span corporate boundaries and be easy to include new people. Cloud solutions like Kenesto offer that.
  • The company benefits from having an audit trail of that communication. Kenesto does that.
  • There is value in master data management / product data management where you have “one version of the truth” that is revision controlled so everybody always accesses the current information. From what I can see, Kenesto isn’t designed to do that.
  • BPMS systems went from a simple concept to being highly technical, structured, complex systems. From what I can see, Kenesto doesn’t do that either.

So what is Kenesto?

It is Kenesto.  😉

OK, I am an analyst so I have to try to make some category comparisons or I have to turn in my analyst card. Chad’s article is titled “A New Take on PLM” and I have heard others say similar things. I have heard whispers that Kenesto will add more data management capabilities, although at this time they have chosen not to integrate with lower level systems like PDM. Is this part of a new approach that separates PLM and PDM into separate layers and solutions, similar to what Autodesk is doing with their PLM 360 cloud PLM solution? Is it in fact the beginnings of a cloud PLM solution? My take is that many companies could use it to solve PLM problems in a simple way, and that might be enough for them. Or if they have a PDM system in place, they could use this to drive their processes. Even if they have PLM, this kind of communication / process automation tool can add value. The bottom line is that Kenesto is bringing process automation and manufacturing / PLM expertise together to solve some problems in a new and interesting way, and there is a place for it in many of today’s manufacturing companies.

So that’s what I hear from Kenesto, I hope you found it useful. What do you think? What else should I have asked them?

Speak Your Mind

*