Eliminate CAD Chaos: 3 Steps Toward CAD Consolidation

Written By: Dave Martin
  • 11/14/2022
  • Read Time : 3 min
Eliminate CAD chaos by consolidating your platforms with PTC.

In part one on eliminating CAD chaos, we looked at seven impacts that a multi-CAD strategy can have on product development organizations. These include increased costs, support, inevitable rework, impaired collaboration, error-prone processes, missed opportunities, and product configuration management complexity.

You can achieve significant benefits by consolidating on a single CAD platform. Let’s look at three steps you can take to prepare your organization for consolidation.

1. Quantify the Waste

The first step toward consolidating is calculating the price of multiple CAD platforms. Every CAD package that you support has its own costs of ownership. Start tracking how much you’re paying annually in licenses and maintenance.

Bur it’s important to remember that the true cost of each system extends beyond the dollar amount you’re paying. Each additional subscription adds waste to your bottom line. Be sure to quantify the impacts of infrastructure, errors, lost time, and delayed schedules. These hidden costs can include:

  • Additional support people and their overhead costs
  • Developing and maintaining libraries, processes, and training
  • Translating models from one format to another when performing simulation and manufacturing tasks
  • Rework when integrating models from different tools

Once you realize how much these additional platforms could hurt your organization, you can commit to consolidating you CAD software. When you multiply these costs by five, 10, or 15 years, it’s hard to justify the expense.

2. Prepare for the Emotions

People perceive engineers to be rational, Spock-like, and data-driven. But engineers are humans just like everyone else. I have a CAD-related YouTube channel, and I can tell you nothing brings out people’s emotions more than comparing one CAD tool to another. People are deeply invested in their tool of choice. (Often, it’s the first one they learned. People have a special attachment to their “home.”)

Years ago, I was on a team helping a major healthcare company transition from one CAD package to another. The change had to happen—their current software never made the move from 32-bit to 64-bit and simply couldn’t be maintained anymore.

Some users had built their entire careers, and arguably their professional identities, around being the team or company “CAD guru.” Now they were on the same playing field as everyone else. Naturally, this evoked fear and insecurity among those employees.  

How do you help your users handle these emotions? First, acknowledge that those feelings are real and valid. Next, present the change as an opportunity for growth. Learning a new system increases their individual market value. Starting over allows the team to rethink their previous processes, which might have grown stale or bloated. The company will need new leaders to foster adoption.

Also, you want to prepare for the J-curve that occurs when organizations undergo a large change. There will be a period of disruption when productivity and performance will fall before you experience positive results and improvement. Proper organizational change management will reduce the duration and depth of the disruption.

3. Take the Same Approach for Feature Battles

You might think that CAD Tool X can perform the same task in fewer clicks than CAD Tool Y. Or that one area has more and/or better functionality. Or that it will be less expensive.

Unfortunately, the more evidence that you show a person, the more entrenched they tend to become in their original beliefs. (Anyone who has had a political argument in the past decade knows this.)

People who study human behavior have different descriptions for this, like cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. There are other explanations like the sunken cost fallacy, where teams rationalize that they’ve invested too much in what’s already been done, so they continue to throw money and time at the unresolved issue rather than starting over.

I’ve been involved in a few CAD benchmarks. At the beginning, teams usually say they will follow a data-driven approach. Sadly, emotions usually win, with last-minute changes to scoring criteria or a decision made behind closed doors.

Given that facts often don’t convince people, what works? Other people. Seek out people with influence, people your team members respect. Have them champion the change. Those people are your best resource for progress.

Next Steps

Now that you have an approach, you can get started. As a straightforward first task, track down your annual software and license costs as you begin to quantify your waste. Then you’ll be on your way to consolidating to a single CAD platform, reducing costs, improving collaboration, and decreasing your time to market.

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About the Author

Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a Creo, Windchill, and PTC Mathcad instructor and consultant. He is the author of the books “Top Down Design in Creo Parametric,” “Design Intent in Creo Parametric,” and “Configuring Creo Parametric,” all available at amazon.com. He can be reached at dmartin@creowindchill.com.

Dave currently works as the configuration manager for Elroy Air, which develops autonomous aerial vehicles for middle-mile delivery. Previous employers include Blue Origin, Amazon Prime Air, Amazon Lab126, and PTC. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and is a former armor officer in the United States Army Reserves.