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The Upgrade Oracle Agile PLM Users Deserve: Part II

Migration is always scary, but not as scary as an outdated solution approaching end of life. Part II of II.

It can be tough to remember a time before the internet became a cornerstone of business processes, but Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) was one of the first to set the standard.

In doing so, Agile rapidly emerged as a pioneering force in the realm of product development—back in the late 90s. I know because I was there. 

Adaptation and change were cultural virtues at the time. The new Millennium was looming large, the dot-com bubble was just beginning to blow up, and the digital age was still in its infancy.

I served as a senior software engineer at Agile PLM just as the internet was emerging as a key player in enterprise applications. Agile, at the time a smaller company on the verge of going public, capitalized on the outsourcing trend in manufacturing, embedding itself as a key player in the supply chain and product data management sectors. 

I was with Agile from 1999 to 2006, a period of significant transformation. Initially, Agile's user interface was a Windows-native client. However, as browser-based applications began to gain popularity around 1999, it became apparent that Agile needed to adapt. I led the development of Agile's inaugural web client, which quickly replaced the original Java client as the preferred interface.

After my tenure at Agile PLM—pre-Oracle acquisition—I moved on to Google and then to Propel Software, another PLM software solution, but this time with a cloud-native interface built on Salesforce's platform. This was a significant shift from the typical PDM and ERP-centric setups that had been significant in the 90s and early 00s.

In some ways, it’s incredible that the user interface we began developing in 2000 still forms the basis of the Agile PLM system used today, 24 years later. While I take pride in having helped build such a long-standing interface, I also question whether it should have remained unchanged when, in the modern era, continuous innovation is mission-critical.

It seems the buzzing culture of change of the late 90s quickly gave way to the cold comfort of stagnation.

When Change Goes Stagnant

Oracle Agile PLM now grapples with challenges in the rise of contemporary, user-centric PLM solutions. On one hand, Agile’s status as a stalwart in the industry is a testament to the early work done in its lifecycle. But its UI concepts, while solid, are built on old technology and haven’t kept up with the evolving demands of the business users—who themselves are facing pressure to meet the evolving demands of consumers and the modern supply chain. 

The need of the hour is a product that is highly configurable to the user's needs while also being proactive to market data. Agility is key to success in today's business environment. 

While Agile rode the wave of outsourcing manufacturing in the early 2000s and provided the necessary structure to enable it, it can no longer serve the needs of a business that depends on quick decision-making by a global, remote, and mobile workforce. 

Today’s market is teeming with competition all scrambling for the attention of a highly demanding consumer base. It's a fine needle to thread, continuously identifying, building, and commercializing innovative products that grow revenue while keeping down costs.

Threading this all-important needle of profitable growth relies on speed.

Agile PLM, primarily an on-premise solution, stands in contradiction with this need—driving a bigger gap between its older UX and cloud-based, SaaS models. This gap is increasingly evident in areas like cost management, project management, and quality management, where connectivity to cloud solutions and real-time responsiveness are critical to accelerating new product development, managing risk, and securing market share—all of which are critical to profitable growth.

Propel Software: The Natural Next Step (Up) from Agile UX

Many of Propel's leadership, including myself, have roots in Agile, so we understand Agile users and know the pain caused by the lack of updates over the past few years. We understand why Agile users would remain, notwithstanding the accumulating problems, because we’re human and we become attached to what we know. 

Those who feel the problems the most, the IT leaders, see the gaps with Agile, but they keep putting off change because they don’t want to upset the users who love it. 

Those same IT leaders should take a closer look at Propel—because their users will love it, too. Why?

Concerns about Propel user adoption are unnecessary because we've built a cloud-native solution with Agile users’ needs in mind, showcasing a nuanced understanding of the system’s foundational elements—from product portfolio management to product governance—and elevating them in a cloud PLM environment.

Propel features Agile users will love:

  • Global Search
  • Familiar Workflows: Highly configurable to business needs
  • List Views and Workspace Reports: Propel's list views and workspace searches offer enterprise visualization, enhanced data retrieval, and management. This is similar to Saved Searches in Agile. 
  • Dashboard and Homepage Reports: Propel's homepage is intuitive and configurable, showcasing the key reports and analytics each user needs, with added features that automate and streamline product record management. For fans of Agile’s dashboard view who always wished it could be customized to their needs! What’s more, business users can create reports using no-code tools.
  • Categories: Some elements are simply a case of learning new terminology for similar functions. For example, Propel “Categories” works much the same way as Agile’s “Subclasses.”
  • Tabs for Item, Change, and Quality pages: Propel's user interface is both familiar and enhanced. Modern design principles like no-code tools and drag-and-drop modules create a superior user experience. For fans of an all-in-one view with customizable tabs. Moreover, the UI can be tailored to roles. So your CAD engineer can have a different view of the Item as compared to someone from the supply chain department.
  • BOM management, change management, and redlining: Additionally, a notable feature in Agile that users appreciate is the clipboard function for managing items in a deeply nested Bill of Materials (BOM). The tab layout, record pages, and action placements in Propel are designed to feel intuitive and will help new users with a seamless transition.

All of the above are features Propel has introduced for the comfort, convenience, and efficiency of all new users moving over from legacy systems. 

Above & Beyond Agile

The bottom line is, that when it comes to user experience and data migration, the transition from Agile to Propel is not only seamless but substantially enhanced. 

We know this because the many customers who’ve moved from Agile to Propel have told us just that:

“We needed to upgrade our PLM from a very outdated Agile System. Propel provided this solution. Took us under their wing and paved the way for this to happen,” said QA Manager Chris Connor from the leading audio systems brand Meyer Sound.

Not to mention results like 74% faster product commercialization (Savant Systems), a 12-week launch with complete data migration from Agile (Precisional), and 100% compliance with intensive security regulations via Propel (Hart Intercivic).

With a cloud-native solution, the fact is users can do more with their data effortlessly, eliminating the need to rely on less efficient methods like Google Docs or spreadsheets. Our capabilities in automating workflows, integrating advanced project management tools, and providing intricate management are a leap forward from on-premise PLM systems.

Key innovations of Propel include:

1. Low-Code/No-Code

Unlike Agile's limited page attribute organization, Propel allows more flexible field placement and tab configuration without requiring coding, thanks to its drag-and-drop tools and low-code/no-code composability. Low-code/no-code is already a UI standard, but enterprise PLM is lagging and it’s non-existent with outdated on-premise PLM systems. With Propel, your organization can be among the early adopters delivering big efficiency gains by allowing users to make fast and easy UI updates. 

2. Role-Based Experiences

Role-based experiences are another area where Propel goes far beyond Agile's capabilities. PLM, by definition, is touched by many groups of users both inside and outside the company. They all need different views of information—e.g. CAD engineers, supply chain folks, change analysts, product leadership, etc.

In each case, their interface—reports, modules, and dashboards—is relevant to their role only, simplifying their interaction with the system. This is why a role-based configurable user experience is critical for productivity and efficiency, presenting the right data at the right time. 

3. Compliance

For product companies, especially those in medtech or life science industries, regulatory compliance is a significant concern. We’ve had customers who needed to upgrade from Agile due to slow, inefficient, and needlessly painful regulatory workflows, drastically impacting their cost of compliance. Propel's approach to closed-loop quality processes, like change management, is as efficient as it is comprehensive, ensuring consistent product quality and adherence to regulatory standards.

4. Security

Security risks have increased exponentially since Agile first arrived on the scene. Today, most CISO and IT departments will no longer allow critical product information to be sent over insecure channels (eg: PDX files shared via email). 

Modern cloud solutions support a configurable but iron-clad security model to provide secure access to data across the supply chain and global workforce. Data is encrypted at rest and in motion. Object and field-level security is in place.

5. Scalability

As a cloud-native solution, Propel is both flexible and scalable, accommodating from 10 to 10,000 users—and everything in between—without a hitch. Elasticity is a major benefit in a hypergrowth market, allowing for adaptation to varying user loads without compromising performance or security.

6. Routine Upgrades (Multiple Times a Year!)

Agile announced in the fall of 2023 that it would no longer be releasing the update it had been promising its users for years. This means users will have to implement clunky fixes, often paying for full-code programming and third-party integrations that must be maintained forever. By contrast, Propel rolls out new features and capabilities at least three times annually, with updates that are forward and backward-compatible across our entire solution. 

7. Integration

Propel offers version control through modern APIs and streamlined validation, with each new upgrade backed up by the robust and secure Salesforce platform. 

Today’s enterprise systems do not live in silos. This is especially true for PLM systems that should work seamlessly with upstream tools like CAD and downstream systems like ERP to weave a common thread across Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support. Propel makes it easy to get data in and out securely through standard API, offering low-code and no-code tools to build these integrations. 

8. Extending UI Benefits to External Partners

With Agile's on-premises setup, integrating external suppliers and partners into the system relies on cumbersome workarounds like VPN configurations. These stopgap fixes are not only outdated given the ease of modern cloud solutions, but they compromise data integrity and raise security concerns. In contrast, Propel's cloud-native solution facilitates easier collaboration with external parties without the security risks, including a built-for-purpose supplier community feature.

9. One Platform, More Value

Propel's product value management (PVM) solution unlocks the value of product data by connecting PLM with quality management (QMS) and product information management (PIM). These solutions combined create a unified value chain—closing the loop seamlessly from concept to customer and back again.

Moreover, Propel can provide features like real-time updates on parts and components—such as risk assessment, sustainability, and product cost management—using in-app notifications to alert users so they can perform all the impacted business processes inside the platform. 

Propel’s routinely upgraded user experience ensures users are working with the most advanced features available, helping innovative companies reduce time to market for new product launches, enhance the customer experience, and deliver profitability and growth.


Decades of working with PLM systems guide Propel in enhancing user experience and productivity in modern ways. Propel is built to be the next chapter in the Agile user’s story, a chapter that promises better decisions, enhanced value chain productivity, and a future-proof platform for the dynamic world of product lifecycle management.

In the end, staying put feels safe, but there’s a cost to doing so. Especially when an option exists that’s designed to reduce your risk of leaving Agile and guarantee user adoption.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself how familiar Propel feels, as well as the enhancements it offers. Get a product demo.

Click to read Part I, addressing concerns about user adoption when moving off Agile PLM.

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Post by
Kishore Subramanian
CTO, Propel

Kishore hails from Google, where he was a Sr. Software Engineer. At Google, he most recently worked on a Java/Kotlin library for the Google Assistant and led key areas for the Files Go Android App and Google Web Designer. His previous experience includes senior engineering roles at Motorola Mobility, JackBe and Agile Software.

Fun Fact: Kishore led the team that built Agile PLM's first web-based user interface.

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Kishore Subramanian