Collaboration in the product design space has never been easy, but it’s a whole new ball game today. Gone are the days when the engineer or domain expert central to a design problem or project task was just a stone’s throw away or even right across town. Today’s product development teams operate as a global business, yet there is still a need to communicate and share critical documents and design files just as easily as if everyone was working from a central location.
Not only does product-related data need to be easily accessible by multiple design centers around the world, it should also be available day or night across different time zones, affording engineering teams the benefit of 24/7 or “follow the sun” development processes. The data and materials must be served up in the native languages of each country so engineers have ready access to what they need in a format they can easily understand. Collaboration on a global scale has to work similarly to collaboration with local peers so design decisions can be made quickly, without misinterpretation and without taking a toll on critical project deadlines.
Beyond globalization, there are other challenges helping to rewrite the rules of collaboration. Today’s complex products have a much more varied makeup, requiring a higher degree of interchange between different engineering domains, including mechanical, electrical, analysis, manufacturing, and increasingly, software development. These disciplines can no longer get away with creating their piece of a product in isolated silos, only stepping up to exchange design information at random intervals or even worse, at the tail end of the cycle when it’s far too complicated and costly to make changes.
There is also a wider constituency of stakeholders involved in product development today. Marketing folks, supply chain experts, support personnel and outside partners are now critical to the design process, providing input and feedback that helps shape everything from requirements gathering to on-going maintenance procedures. Most development efforts also tap into customer input throughout the various stages of design as well as outsourced design partners, upping the ante for collaboration capabilities that can easily be extended to outside parties.
Streamlining Collaboration in Adept 2015
In recognition of these challenges, the latest version of Adept tackles collaboration on a variety of levels with an eye towards streamlining and simplifying the process for extended, global teams. One of the more notable enhancements in Adept 2015 is the concept of Sharing, which lets users share more than documents, and now with entire groups as opposed to the individual exchange popularized in previous versions. With Adept 2015, users can easily and quickly share documents in addition to saved searches, favorites lists, report templates, and transmittal templates and searches with other Adept users that they specify through the new personal group capability.
Adept’s new personal group function helps establish ad hoc groups of users—for instance, those working on a common project or with similar disciplines—so they can easily exchange key information and engage in other forms of collaboration.
Companies with large numbers of Adept users are all-too familiar with the pain of trying to find and create user lists to share documents and other critical design-related data. A new concept called Circles borrows from the “friends” paradigm popularized by consumer social networks and allows an Adept user to establish a compounded group of users to shorten user lists and facilitate collaboration. Users within a circle are typically members of a common Personal Group and library access group.
Transmittals are another area that has been enhanced to aid in collaboration. Adept 2015 now exposes previously inaccessible data that is pertinent to the exchange, giving users a window into who sent the material along with all of the relevant contact information. There are also expanded search capabilities so users can drill down and easily find relevant transmittals related to their specific task or project.
To address the global element of collaboration, Adept 2015 fully embraces localization. Menus, window titles, buttons, and messages are now all available in other languages, and administrators can leverage a translation module to localize custom field names, email message headers, and subject lines, among other attributes. The Adept Viewer is also now available in other languages.
The complexity of today’s products and the global nature of business have raised the stakes around collaboration. Geographically dispersed teams need the ability to find and share critical product-related data as easily as if it was stored locally even if it’s a continent or time zone away.