ROI? Process Improvement? KISS!

When engineering companies start to talk about improving engineering processes, it isn’t very long before someone mentions ROI — Return On Investment. When this happens, it is important to understand the motivation. Is there truly a desire to make sure spending on process improvement is valuable? Or is it a way to delay inevitable changes? Some people are resistant to change; they find it easy to wave the “ROI” flag with a subconscious hope it means Run Off Immediately.

In the classic guide to software-based engineering improvement, ROI of Software Process Improvement, D.F. Rico works through the internal processes that always seem to take place when companies re-examine workflow. Rico wants the reader to realize the metrics of software-based process improvements don’t have to be complicated. In other words, if you are looking at ROI, be sure to KISS! (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

Rico says the initial assessment is the key, and if a company follows three simple rules the assessment will go smoothly and offer meaningful insights:

Step 1

Define goals before measuring. Too often, engineering departments struggle to establish well-defined goals that work for both senior management, and the technical managers and staff. 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

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Start the EDM Conversation

It amazes me that in 2016 there are still companies that don’t know what to do with engineering and enterprise data. Do we keep it on local hard drives? Should we get a shared hard drive? Servers? Vaults? Cloud(s)? Do drawings go in the same place as plots? What about spreadsheet files?

If your company is still scratching its corporate head about how to manage enterprise data—and even worse, confusing storing data with managing it—then it is time to wake up and smell the Grade AA Arabica coffee of modern engineering data management and stop drinking the cheap Robusta of file storage. If you need some help convincing the Powers That Be in your organization about the importance of data management, here are five New Year’s Resolutions to get the conversation started. Over some really good coffee, of course. Read More

Measuring the ROI of Information Access

In my previous blog post for Synergis, I ended it by saying, “Don’t measure the ROI of having a place to put your CAD stuff; measure the ROI of creating digital business processes for product development.” So let’s take a look at an engineering company that has taken the time to figure it out.

Calculating Return on Investment is fairly simple when one buys a product wholesale and sells it retail. When the purchase is a software product that guides crucial operations, the calculations get more intricate. For example, if you don’t know how long it takes your team to work with information, you can’t measure the benefit of automation. In a report entitled “Validating the Possible” CIMdata calculates the potential for savings in specific processes, including:

  • Time to find information—75% to 90% time reduction;
  • Engineering changes process—10% to 70% time reduction;
  • Design review process—50% to 80% time reduction;

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Clear Thinking About Cloudy CAD

Sooner or later when talking about EDM or PDM software, the subject turns to return on investment (ROI). But before measuring the ROI of any particular software purchase, one must be clear about what exactly is being measured. Recent trends in the engineering software industry are muddying the waters instead of making things more clear about the purpose of PDM. So, (spoiler alert), this article is not about ROI of PDM specifically, but about the clear thinking required to measure it correctly.

There is a new set of CAD and PDM tools on the market using cloud technology. They all have one thing in common: they are geometry-centric. Like their desktop predecessors, they are very good at helping people turn ideas into drawings or models. The new cloud-based CAD systems offer a better way to streamline design collaboration. Distance is no longer an obstacle for those who must work together to create geometry. However, the work output has not changed; geometry is created, refined, and submitted to a larger product development process. Read More