What do you like best?
Arena's ability to track and record item data, provide access to suppliers, and release changes in a structured manor are its strengths. Items in Arena are separated between internal and external [supplier] items and provides a platform to set up complex relationships between the two sets - this along with the ability to control files/attributes for each item type separately creates a powerful way to control procurement and build to order specifications. Setting up partner access is quick and access parameters are straight forward. The change record features are sufficient and if processes can support supplier feedback in Arena, tracking implementation discussions and status of change records are available. The floor to implement Arena PLM is very low so long as the standard workflows align with company processes. The nature of Arena being a cloud based application makes accessibility its greatest feature. Item data is available anywhere in the world and complex supply chains are unified on one unified platform.
What do you dislike?
Process workflows and power user tools are somewhat rigid. Complex revision policies, proper product development tracking, and mass item update tools could all use improvement. Item revision policies force the latest revision to be the effective revision universally - in this model there is no control over the effectivity of incremental updates to BOM items. There are ways to get around this issue, but it leads to unnecessary complexity which is something a small business can't afford. Other PLM products offer linked/mirrored developmental and production workspaces, Arena does not have this feature. There is no straight forward way to track the incremental development stages for items that have already been released to a production lifecycle phase. For a small business in a constant state of growth and change - mass updates of item attributes is unfortunately a common place thing. Arena is constantly improving, but mass changes are largely still an incredibly manual process.
Recommendations to others considering the product
For a platform with such a easy set up, Arena is quite powerful. To get the most out of the platform, however, it would need someone familiar with the its limitations to properly set up the categories and item attribute fields to get the most out Arena from the start.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Arena provides a baseline and straight forward source of record. Despite some shortcomings that can often lead to confusion, processes can be created around the Arena platform that align worldwide suppliers together to build complex products.