The Top 11 Mistakes to Avoid During Engineering Document Management Implementations and Upgrades, Part 1

Rolling out an enterprise-level document management solution across your organization can be a daunting task. While there’s no be-all, end-all method to implementation, setting up enterprise software does require several layers of planning and cross-communication. In fact, the success of the solution often relies as much on the implementation process as it does on the technology itself.

To better understand the do’s and don’ts of implementing your engineering document management system, we asked our Applications Consultants to compile a list of the top 11 mistakes they see companies make during Adept implementations—as well as suggestions on how to prevent these errors.

This installment covers the first 5 of the eleven mistakes to avoid. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll cover the final 6 tips for a successful implementation.

Mistake 1: Assigning too many administrators

One way that organizations stumble early out of the gate is in determining user rights. All too often, our Applications Consultants see companies grant all users Administrator-level access, or give individuals or departments admin rights when they really need low level access.

Limiting the number of Administrators helps to establish a clear line of control and eliminates conflicting approvals. After all, the last thing you need is for someone’s work to be undone by another user. We recommend that you start small and only elevate rights on an as-needed basis.

It’s best to assign one primary administrator and to assign lower level permissions, such as Library Administrator or Workflow Administrator, to designated users.

Mistake 2: Over or underestimating the number of user licenses

There are several layers of investment to consider when deploying a new engineering document management system across your organization—including how many user licenses you’ll need for optimum performance. Shortchanging or overestimating the number of user licenses can directly impact the success of the software.

In order to determine the right amount of user licenses, we recommend scheduling a focused meeting with an Adept expert to thoroughly review the different types of users you have, the level of access each type requires, and the frequency of access needed. The perfect ratio of user licenses varies from customer to customer; therefore this comprehensive consultation will analyze and determine what would fit best for your organization.

Mistake 3: Cutting back on implementation onsite training days to “save money”

It’s not enough to roll out software and expect all the end-users to automatically adapt to new software. One of the recurring problems our Applications Consultants see onsite are customers not taking full advantage of their implementation training days.

The Synergis Technical Applications Consultants have over 40 years of experience installing and implementing Adept across the globe. The training and implementation time spent with them is of extremely high value and will ensure that your system is setup successfully to your specific needs and requirements. Often, companies who cut back on training need more assistance earlier in the adoption process. For example, being overly reliant on resources such as Helpdesk causes them to be less efficient than if they were well trained from the beginning. We recommend prioritizing training—either on-site or at our offices—to get the most out of Adept from the start.

Mistake 4: Opting for manual file migration vs. custom file migration

Now for the nitty-gritty part of implementing engineering document management—migrating your data into Adept. While both manual and custom file migration can get the job done, consider the pros and cons of each before you make a decision.

Manual file migration provides an opportunity to clean files during the migration process; however, it requires users to be locked out of files for manual cleanup. Programmatic custom migration occurs off-site and therefore, doesn’t cause as much downtime. Make sure you carefully review your data with our data migration experts before you make a decision.

Mistake 5: Becoming stuck in the “old perceptions”

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of implementing new software is letting go of “perceived requirements” and embracing the new challenge to think outside-the-box. For example, one perceived requirement can be an out-of-date workflow process that you’ve been using forever, but you know isn’t really efficient. It’s not always easy to change or tweak “the old ways of doing things” when adopting a new system.

In order to become the productivity powerhouse you’ve always hoped for, you’ll need to be flexible and open to new, innovative automation methods. We strongly recommend leveraging Adept to find better workflows and ways of working—even if this path can initially be uncomfortable or different. Ultimately, your team will work more efficiently.

 

Having a thorough implementation strategy in mind is crucial to making Adept a success. Avoid these common mistakes, and you’ll be golden. Subscribe to our blog and check back next week for Part 2 of our series.

Welcome to the Loosely Coupled World

I am noticing a change in thinking in the engineering data industry. Current trends in IT are driving new capabilities and new methods. The industry is moving from consolidation to federation, from tightly coupled systems to loosely coupled systems. This transition has important implications for all engineering companies.

There was a time when product lifecycle management (PLM) was advertised as the evolution of product data management (PDM) or engineering document management (EDM). The three largest vendors of PLM software made a nice business for many years helping enterprise-class manufacturers consolidate all their engineering data into a single comprehensive database. In IT-speak, this is an example of a tightly coupled system. All data and all processes were consolidated into one large program. Centralization was a guiding principle, not only for how the software managed engineering data, but also for the computer infrastructure used to run the PLM platform. Read More

A Better Interface for a Better Adept Experience

When Synergis Software Vice President Todd Cummings introduced Adept 2017 at the company’s first user conference, Adept Experience, last month, he said the mission for the development team was “to deliver more power to users in an easier and more accessible way.” He and fellow presenter Chris Fabri then showed how the transition to web services technology did more than provide a faster “under the hood” experience, but also transformed how users get their work done.

Much of the work to create the user experience in Adept 2017 was about simplifying the way people worked within the program. The web-based clients were recreated from the ground up, with an eye to simplify every aspect of using Adept. The desktop client was simplified and makes users more productive in their every day tasks.

The Desktop Client has an all-new user interface, replacing the original toolbars and menus with a new Ribbon and Tab interface. This approach reduces the number of clicks required to perform tasks. In testing most common tasks were increased by a factor of four, and some by much more. Read More

A New Platform for a New Adept

For the past 14 months, Synergis Software has been hard at work creating a new version of Adept. This isn’t the typical software update with some new features and various bug fixes. This is a serious reworking of the product from its foundation up, designed to make Adept the best possible engineering document management solution. As Scott Lamond said at the launch webinar attended by hundreds of Adept users, “Our mission is to free you from operational chaos, so you can make the difference in the world you want to make.”

For Adept 2017, delivering users from “operational chaos” meant big changes to the inner working of the product, and to the user experience. In this article I want to take a look at the new platform technology of Adept 2017. In my next article I’ll take a close look at how the user experience (UX) in Adept 2017 has improved.

Development of both the new foundation and the new UX were guided by the Synergis mantra, “simple, fast ways to find documents anywhere.” The goal is always to make it as easy as possible for engineering companies to work with one version of the truth, keeping everyone in sync and on schedule. Documents remain secure, collaboration is enhanced, and manual workflow processes are automated. Read More

How to Reduce Costs with Engineering Document Management

It never ceases to amaze me how many engineering companies still believe they are doing just fine using the same document management methods they used when Windows replaced DOS in the 1980s. Talking to my colleagues, users, and software vendors leads me to believe a majority of engineering firms in both product development and construction are not using modern document management. Instead, they rely on creating operating system directories for document management in shared networks or on individual users’ computers. This is unacceptable business practice in operations, finance, and other divisions of a company; why should the inefficiencies and lack of security inherent in using naked OS folders be acceptable in engineering?

I call it document management on the honor system. It is not much more advanced than printing every electronic document on paper and then arranging them on shelves, where anybody has access to any file. Until one of those shelves is in somebody’s private office and they are gone for two weeks… when you really need that information now. Or until when somebody takes a file folder home for the weekend, but misplaces it and doesn’t bring it back on Monday. Read More

Synergis Adept: The Best of What Both PDM and PLM Offer

A newcomer to the engineering data management marketplace might quickly come to the conclusion there are two options if wanting to upgrade from Windows Explorer as a management tool. The first is to buy a system that helps engineers in a workgroup manage design files (PDM); the second is to buy a specialized database (PLM) that breaks down all information—CAD data and everything else—and stores it separately from the familiar files/folders structure. For many businesses looking to upgrade their engineering automation, the first option is too limiting and the second is too massive.

PDM vs. PLM

The traditional PDM (Product Data Management) approach is to make the CAD document the center of the universe. The PDM software manages sets of linked files for version control, synchronized check-in/check-out, and controls access right. The PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) approach requires the enterprise to import all data (CAD and from every other electronic document used in engineering) into a relational database, and then to adopt new workflows based on the design of the PLM system. Read More

PDM and the Problem with Printing

One of the best reasons engineering companies invest in product data management (PDM) is process automation; you turn manual methods into a digital workflow. All your information has greater visibility and better, trackable management. But we all know that much of what is designed and approved in the digital world has to be printed sooner or later, or at least published to a PDF document. Once a document is printed/published, there is a break from the all the advantages inherent in using PDM. It is like taking an axe to a landline telephone cord (you still have one of those, don’t you?); The pieces are still there, but nothing’s happening.  Read More

PDM and the Truth About Multi-CAD Support

It’s no secret that engineers live in a multi-CAD world. As part of their daily routines, engineers routinely collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners, each working with different CAD tools, yet all needing to be on the same page.

Most companies use, on average, 2.7 different CAD systems internally, according to CAD maker PTC, and that doesn’t account for other tools put into play by external partners. Each tool has a distinct file format and different flair for handling 3D CAD data and models. The variances can quickly turn into a nightmare for engineers who are simply trying to collaborate and share designs to get their jobs done.

CAD vendors have tried to address the multi-CAD issue for years, but it remains a struggle for many companies–some trapped by manual processes that don’t effectively do the job, others saddled with CAD management solutions that don’t live up to their promise of dealing with disparate models and CAD file types. Read More

Guiding the PDM Conversation Requires a Steely-Eyed Gaze

get-chekclistThe decision to invest in a modern engineering document management system is a big deal. A variety of questions arise, from the financial (What’s the budget?) to the logistical (How do we deploy and not fall behind in our work?) and the practical (Who is in charge of random issues?). Sometimes the answer comes from within the organization, and sometimes the answer is more like, “We’ll solve that with the software vendor.”

When the answers require a joint venture, it is important to enter into the conversation with the software vendor as an equal partner. Every vendor of product data management (PDM) and/or engineering document management (EDM) software wants a happy customer—but they prefer happy and compliant. If you let the vendor drive the conversation, you may not get what you really need from your new software. Read More