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First “T” of CAD – Tools

Tools – Talent – Technology – Training

These four T’s can be used to define your efforts in you job. Combine these four and you get a balanced approach to CAD.

Let’s look at the Tools

Tools relates to the ones that you select. Which ones will you use?  What will you use them for?

Defining the individual Tools that are in your firms tool box is part of your job as a CAD Manager.   The process for selecting each tools should be systematic,selective and inclusive of many voices.  But at some point, the CAD Manager has to weigh in with a choice.

No Choice:

Some CAD Managers don’t get a choice.  They inherit tools.  The tools are selected by others.  Or the client or project defines the tool.  These are realities that we all have to live with.  So working with tools that may not be on the top of your list is a day to day reality.

When you have no choice on the tools being used – you need to make the best of it.  Don’t complain about how crummy the tools are (even though they may be).  Do your best to get the best out of each tool.  Look for and build on the best parts of each tool.  Try to minimize or work around the areas that are weak.

When you Choose:

When you have the chance to choose the tools that your firm works with, what do you look for?  The best all around tool?  The best at one particular function?  The newest?  The cheapest?  There are many factors that go into software choices.  I could not really list them all.  And if I tried, I may miss the ones that you think is most important.

Is it cost?  Is it compatibility with other tools?  Is it what others are using (industry standard).  Is it knowledge of your users?  Is it training costs?  Support costs?

When I weigh the selection of CAD tools, I have to take all of these into account.  Leaving one out may sabotage your selection.  Wading through the impactful issues may be tough.

So here is a challenge: Comment on this post with your top three factors that go into software choices…

2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "First “T” of CAD – Tools"

#1 Comment By Ryan McVay On August 26, 2008 @ 2:02 PM

When it comes to software tool choices I tend to value how the tool intergrates with the other systems in the company as a high priority: I will look at MES and ERP first. Creating data silo’s that can’t be leveraged by others is not a good thing.

If that is not an issue, than I take a good hard look/guess at the future to see if scalablity is going to be an issue. Are we planning on opening plants/offices in different area and how will those be supported? (i.e. multi-site server and licenses, vars or direct support)

Finally, I look to see what type of product we build and determine some of the key functionalities based on geometry type and assembly sizes.

#2 Comment By John Person On September 2, 2008 @ 11:57 AM

Ryan makes a great point. Integration with your existing systems are important. Even if you intend to upgrade your platforms in the near future, changes in plans could make your recent purchase obsolete or unusable.

I try to make sure that the tools are or have been upgraded to follow the upcoming changes of software platforms they will be used on.

One other aspect that merits mentioning is ‘Learning Curve’ and ‘Acceptability’. Even the best tools are useless if your users can’t or worse, won’t use them.

When looking for a new apps/ tools, I ask myself one questions and categorize the tool in one of two lists. “Does this tool do something new or does it do something better?”

Depending on which, I gear my training differently (but I’ll comment on that one later)

(*Great Blog by the way, Mark.)