Goodbye Rogues and Stowaways

To say “engineering creates a lot of data” is to utter the understatement of the year. The complexity of information seems to rise exponentially when manual processes become digital. A problem occurs when a business automates different job functions and divisions independently. It is not uncommon for a business to automate business processes before engineering processes.

Business operations need engineering data, but without a plan in place to coordinate how the data moves, troublemakers can sneak in. Someone can print a file and send it to another department. Or a file can be attached to a CAD document without authorization. I call this kind of ad hoc data sharing as creating rogues and stowaways. These new files or metadata documents sneak around in the network, hiding their intentions and moving through the system without detection. You can’t audit rogues and stowaways, and others can’t use them if they aren’t registered as part of the data management system. Read More

An Adept Action Plan for Enterprise Integration

Integration is one of those hot topics that has everyone in IT buzzing. Even so, most companies don’t practice anywhere close to what they preach when it comes to syncing up enterprise systems.

The reason is that integration is hard. For most companies, it’s far easier to find manual workarounds to share data between siloed systems than to spend precious time and resources slogging through the technical details of integration. Professionals convince themselves that it’s no big deal to screen hop between an ERP system and a document management system like Adept to track down a maintenance record for a particular piece of machinery and then initiate a separate search to examine the corresponding 2D or 3D engineering drawings. They rationalize those extra few minutes of search time and believe it’s okay to task engineers with manually rekeying of data. No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong. The problem is that these common workarounds, done on any kind of routine basis, introduce unnecessary inefficiencies and human error into core business processes. Conversely, by integrating key systems like ERP and Adept, or Adept and Microsoft SharePoint, for example, organizations stand to gain a number of clear advantages. They can benefit from faster access to critical data. They can streamline product development cycles, even enjoy better overall productivity. It’s difficult to argue with such a potential upside, but it always circles back to the question of how to handle the hard work of integration. Most companies table the possibility, believing the scenario is out of reach, especially those smaller shops with little to no dedicated IT support.

The truth is integration is not out of reach and it doesn’t have to be hard. Not by a long shot. Adept supports a variety of options that allow companies of all sizes and technical skill levels to reap the benefits of connected systems without the heavy lifting typically associated with integration.

There are three key ways to integrate Adept with core systems:

  • The most basic level of integration is to keep Adept data synchronized with other core systems like ERP. Companies can set up key intervals for an XML or text output file to be automatically generated and sent to the Adept system for synchronization. This method is somewhat generic so it can be used to integrate Adept with any business system as long as it can provide or accept text or Excel files.
  • If the business requires a higher level of integration, perhaps to view a PDF of a particular product in the context of some other business information, the simplest approach is to use Adept’s PublishWave. This add-on generates a PDF of the 2D or 3D model and corresponding documentation and automatically pushes it to a folder where it can be accessed and viewed in other business systems like ERP.
  • Companies requiring more tightly-knit integration can consult with Synergis on a custom engagement. Working with Synergis experts, companies can build one-off integrations using Web services connections between Adept and ERP or another key business system. This approach eliminates the need to pass files back and forth making for a clean and higher performing connection. With one-button access, Adept is automatically launched within the context of another system, eliminating the need to screen hop or manually input data between systems.

Integrating enterprise systems is never a slam dunk. But Adept’s varied range of capabilities makes it easy for companies to reap the productivity gains without getting too bogged down in the weeds of integration.

These Pain Points Seem Familiar? Integration Might Be The Rx

Bring up the subject of integration with most IT professionals and you’re likely to get an eye roll, maybe even a full-throated groan. Integration projects, according to conventional wisdom, are costly, overly complicated, and all-consuming from a resource standpoint. Trying to integrate two systems is frequently compared to falling into a black hole; say many who’ve tried, burdening IT with a lot of extra work and risk without delivering enough of an upside to the business.

While the knocks against enterprise integration projects may be true, the same can’t be said for attempts to establish smaller point connections between systems in the hopes of scoring targeted wins.  Connecting an Adept document management system with the email system of record, for example, can do wonders for establishing a centralized record of all interaction with a particular client. Similarly, syncing up Adept with a project management and scheduling tool or a contact management platform can streamline critical workflows and ensure everyone is working off the same information and meeting shared goals. Read More

Survey Update Confirms Strong Interest in CAD Data Management

The 2016 edition of the Business Advantage Annual CAD Trends Survey is out, and there are few real surprises in this year’s results. CAD-using businesses are watching the newer technologies, but only a small percentage of potential users are deploying. Meanwhile, technologies that have been around longer are the most trusted. But with the exception of the CAD tools themselves, most technologies used by design and engineering professions have plenty of room to grow.

Four of the top five technology trends, based on both usage and ranked importance, are the same as last year. 2D Drafting tops the charts as a deployed technology, followed close by 3D modeling CAD (which is given a higher ranking of importance by users). Far from becoming the Windows 95 of engineering, 2D drafting continues to be essential. Based on asking the same questions over and over for years whenever I talk to CAD managers, I believe there are 2.5 seats of 2D drafting CAD used in manufacturing for every seat of 3D modeling CAD. In AEC the ratio is more like 5 to 1.

ba-quadrant

The Business Advantage Quadrant, ranking engineering technologies into four categories based on the results of survey data. (Source: Business Advantage) Read More