5 Reasons to Join the Adept Community Forum

Each year at our annual Adept user’s conference, Adept Experience, attendees tell us that the time they spend networking face-to-face with other Adept users is far and away the best value of the event. So in the spirit of continuing that sense of community and sharing, we set up an open Adept community forum. As important is it is for our users, it’s a way for our developers to interactively relate to our customers all year round.

So, If you’re an Adept customer interested in extending your knowledge of Adept or if you’re a non-user and want to know what our customers are saying about the product before you buy, here are five great reasons why you need to join the community forum now.

Connecting with other Adept users

The single biggest advantage of the Adept community forum is the ability to connect with other Adept users—from newly implemented users to experienced superstars—all in one central hub. People can share ideas and tips with others or ask and answer questions to a simple or complex question, allowing you to extend Adept in ways you’ve never thought possible. Read More

How Adept Streamlines the Composites Business at Toray

Toray Composites is a world leader in a strong growth area, the manufacture of carbon fiber composites for industrial applications. The company has used Synergis Adept for years, helping it to streamline workflow and coordinate teams on three continents.

Toray has been producing carbon fiber composite materials in the USA for more than 20 years. It has become a leading producer of advanced materials for the aerospace industry and other industries including energy and sports equipment. Boeing is a leading client; carbon fiber composite makes up 50% of a Boeing 787 by weight.

Toray Composite’s Journey to Selecting Adept

After years as a CAD and engineering manager for other companies, Phil Fitzgerald was hired by Toray as both document administrator and CAD manager. In 2006, Fitzgerald won approval to find a new document management system for engineering. After examining alternatives, Fitzgerald narrowed their focus to two products, Autodesk Vault and Synergis Adept. Fitzgerald shared his Adept journey at the Adept Experience user conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. You can watch a video of the presentation on the Synergis Software YouTube channel. Read More

The Top 11 Mistakes to Avoid During Engineering Document Management Implementations and Upgrades, Part 2

Engineering document management (EDM) systems are a big investment. But while a poorly planned and implemented EDM rollout can cause lost productivity and delays, a successful implementation can help your organization streamline workflows, cut costs, and much more—in other words, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

In this second installment of the Top 11 Mistakes to Avoid, we’ll be covering the final six mishaps our Applications Consultants see companies make during Adept implementations—and how to avoid them. Head to Part 1 for our first series of must-have tips. Let’s dive in.

Mistake 6: Confusing functionality across products

Choosing the right software solution—and vendor—for your organization requires extensive research, time, and attention. All too often, those performing the software evaluations are tasked with this project on top of an already jam-packed list of daily responsibilities. Keeping track of which solution does what without a score card or requirements list can be challenging. Without documentation on each solution, it can lead to some confusion on which software does what across vendors. Read More

3 Tips for Crushing Information Silos at Work

When you hear the word silo, you might picture the tall round buildings filled with grain. But silos have another meaning in the business world. Virtual silos exist when information is not openly and consistently shared between people or among departments. They are a huge and costly hurdle for any organization that needs to be nimble and competitive on a global scale.

While you may have software tools (like Synergis Adept engineering information management) to manage and organize your information in a centralized repository, your organization may still be lacking the cultural and social skills to make a bridge across disparate teams and global sites.

Crushing Silos

At last year’s Adept Experience, keynote speaker Brian Cristiano, founder & CEO of BOLD Worldwide, a fast-growing media and marketing company headquartered in NYC, brought a fresh and inspiring perspective to crushing silos in the workplace.

Cristiano recently announced a bold goal over the last year: To grow his marketing agency to revenues over $100 million. During this journey, he’s encountered many virtual silos that have hampered growth and collaboration. In his keynote, he shared his real-life tactics on how to crush these silos. Here are his key tips: Read More

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.

The Dirty Little Secrets of Engineering Document Management

Do you always turn slightly to the left when someone takes your picture, because you think you are showing your “good side”? (I don’t turn my head, but I do lift my chin just a little.) It is human nature to try to put ourselves in the best possible light. Software vendors also do that, so to speak. Every product on the market has strengths and weaknesses. It requires careful study to select the right product when there are competing solutions.

For managing engineering information, three types of programs are competing for market share: Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Product Data Management (PDM), and Engineering Document Management (EDM). PLM companies love to talk about how they integrate all product information into one database to deliver “one version of the truth.” PDM companies extol the virtues of managing access and use of all CAD data. EDM companies talk about streamlining enterprise business processes and making all engineering documentation secure, shared, and accessible. There is considerable overlap between the functions of the three, as well as distinctive elements in how each type of program operates.

I have seen companies come and go during my 30 years in the engineering software industry. Some of them disappeared because they were terrible at marketing. Some died because technology changed and they didn’t. And some died because too many users found out the hard way there are flaws and limitations that the product vendors don’t reveal. Like the right pose for a photo, companies do their best to avoid revealing those dirty little secrets.

What exactly do I mean by dirty little secrets? They are embarrassing facts, troublesome bits of information someone — or in this case, some software company — would rather keep hidden. In the world of engineering, I see three dirty little secrets haunting the industry. Read More

What’s Next in Engineering Technology?

For nearly four years, I have been a guest writer here on the Synergis blog, commenting on the state of engineering document management and highlighting innovative uses of Adept. While I will still be doing that until I wear out my welcome, over the next few months I will also occasionally comment on engineering technology trends. Not just EDMS/PDM issues, but all the digital tools engineers need, and the products they will make with new technologies.

In this column and the next, I will touch on several trends. In future columns, I will explore these ideas in more detail. This article will start with trends more familiar to Adept users; the next one will gaze further ahead.

2D CAD remains essential

3D CAD is a powerful technology, but just as television did not kill radio, 3D CAD did not and will not kill 2D CAD. Rich, descriptive visual languages have evolved over the years, all based in 2D drafting. No less a 3D proponent than Dassault Systemès (Catia, SolidWorks) estimates that for every seat of 3D CAD software in use, there are between four to ten seats of 2D CAD software supporting the same mission. The differences are by industry: Construction uses more 2D seats than automotive, which uses more 2D seats than aerospace and defense. This ratio of 3D to 2D won’t be changing anytime in the near future. Read More

Justifying New EDM Software to the Stubborn

Engineers are tinkerers by nature. They love to tweak things to see if they can “fix them” in some way. Perhaps engineers have a “tweaking” gene others lack.

Engineers are also devoted to method. They like to find a process that works and stick to it. That bit of stubbornness is great when it means products work right and adhere to established norms for safety and cost. But sometimes stubbornness rears its head when engineering companies take a look at improving their workflow with modern product data management (PDM) or engineering data management (EDM) software.

What should a company do when resistance to engineering process change comes not from above (top management) or beyond (accounting or operations), but from within? I suggest a focus on the practical benefits of installing modern engineering management software like Synergis Adept. Consider these aspects pulled from a variety of user experiences.

Change management

When change management moves from a paper trail process to a digital workflow, it becomes easier and faster to track, manage, and deliver more accurate information. Sounds nice, but how do you get buy-in from staff? Explain how the new process puts change management information “at your fingertips.” When Visa Lighting updated its engineering workflow with Adept, one of the big benefits was improved change management. “Now we have a streamlined change control process that is paperless and automatically routes files so we don’t have a huge paper trail traveling around the building. We can find the change document and pull up all related drawings, images, and everything else we need in a couple of clicks. All the information is at our fingertips,” says Visa Lighting’s Scott Hastings.

Audits

Want to instantly fill a room full of engineers with a sense of dread? Just say the word “audit” out loud. Whether the purpose is regulatory approval, defending against a potential lawsuit, or due diligence for an acquisition, engineering process audits are a necessary evil. If all the documentation is already cataloged and searchable inside your PDM system, gathering information for an audit becomes a simple task. The time you save and the quality of the information you can provide is a sure step in reducing exposure to expensive risk. And you can chase the auditors out sooner.

Transmittals

This is a process specific to construction-related industries. Every project has stages where all the data must be gathered and sent to the client as one neat package, the transmittal. In organizations without automated data management, this can take days. And nobody wants to be the person put in charge of preparing the transmittal. With Adept, the process is as close to “push a button” as it can get. The chance of errors is greatly reduced; any search for documents is an automated process; and there is a relationship established between the transmittal cover sheet and the documents being sent. Best of all, the whole process has an audit trail. If the client can take the transmittal as a set of PDFs, even more time and money are saved.

Playing nice with others (AKA collaboration)

It is increasingly common for engineering departments to collaborate on projects. It might be with another engineering unit in the same company, or it might be as a subcontractor on a larger project. It is easier to collaborate when your internal information management is running at peak efficiency. If collaboration is a sore point in your organization, tell your team about Dow Chemical, a long-time Adept user.

Dow Chemical standardized when, after years of acquisitions, they realized engineering data management was being handled by no less than 25 different software platforms or ad-hoc workflows. The result was better than expected. Dow says the use of Adept increased the speed of projects, and it changed the way it does business because of increased flexibility in unusual document management situations. One of the unexpected benefits of standardizing on Adept was insight on creating new best practices for planning, deploying, and measuring effectiveness of their engineering management practices. Engineers might be stubborn, but most of them like the idea of creating and adopting new best practices — it goes back to that “tweaking” gene.

The ultimate tweak your engineers should appreciate is how Adept works with your existing system. Adept uses a unique “smart vaulting” approach to data management. It provides security and control without encrypting or scrambling the existing documents or file folder structure. And it does not move documents into a new database. The smart vaulting can be for one site, or across multiple locations. If something terrible happens and Adept is not available (as in a remote location losing its connection to the corporate network), the original documents are still where they were originally placed.

All in all, even the most stubborn engineers usually come on board with new EDM software when shown the practical, day-to-day benefits. Just give them a chance to scratch their tweaking itch.

If you’re considering how to better manage your product, facilities or plant data, contact us to learn more about how Adept can impact your organization.


Randall S. Newton is the principal analyst and managing director at Consilia Vektor, a consulting firm serving the engineering software industry. He has been directly involved in engineering software in a number of roles since 1985. 

The New EDM Secret Sauc(e)

Here it is 2018, and there is still hang-wringing and skepticism about the value of cloud computing for many aspects of Engineering Document Management (EDM). Some of the complaints sound right out of the late 1980s when engineering companies started wiring together each engineer’s computer into a network. Loss of privacy, loss of security, slower access to data, and other canards were tossed about then, and they are tossed about today when the discussion turns to using cloud technology for EDM.

The hand-wringing continues because interest is rising regarding the potential value of EDM cloud computing. Adoption of cloud-based solutions is up, as awareness of the benefits and advantages of cloud computing become more widespread. As Synergis Software’s Todd Cummings told the audience at last year’s Adept User Conference, “The private cloud is the new WAN.” Read More

3 Steps to Understanding Workflow Process Improvement

Many Adept users acquire the software to improve document storage and retrieval processes. As we have reported here before, researchers have shown how up to 30% of an engineer’s time is spent looking for the right information. All too often, the right information is somewhere, on some server or colleague’s hard drive, but no one is quite sure where.

But there is more to Adept than automated document storage and retrieval — much more. Adept includes powerful tools for drawing- and document-based workflows. Organizations can use Adept to automate simple or complex engineering and business processes. Automating as many steps as possible in your existing processes helps you get products to market quicker, and get projects completed on time and under budget.

Workflow automation is all about increasing efficiency. Remove the barriers to more efficient practices in the organization, and you increase the organization’s ability to be more innovative and agile. You also lower costs by decreasing the time it takes to do important tasks. And, you set the organization up to be more receptive in the future to such “Industry 4.0” innovations as model-based engineering, digital thread, and digital twin. Read More