Building a CAD Evaluation Team to Guide Smart Software Decisions

When it comes time to select a new 3D CAD software platform, your decision will only ever be as good as the team you assemble to help make it.  Long gone are the days when an easy test drive by a few technical people could cement a solid purchase.  With the variety of features, design philosophies, and paths to ROI available in the CAD market today, it is more important than ever to ensure that your CAD selection process starts with a reliable selection team process.

A well-chosen cad evaluation team can guide smart software decisions

When evaluating 3D CAD software, include stakeholders like VP of engineering, support, and finance representatives.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that problem, either.  The path you follow will depend greatly on the nature and structure of your organization and needs.  Some shops will need to accommodate a mix of expert and casual CAD users.  In others, financial and procurement representatives will play a major role in CAD selection.

So how can your company assemble a 3D CAD evaluation team that can guide software decisions?

  • Determine early what features your current product designs demand.  This may seem an obvious point, but for many, it isn’t.  Draw in the people who will be using the software every day, and take a careful inventory of what CAD features (for example, specific materials or specialized simulation tools) are critical to company’s everyday product design tasks.  Select the engineering personnel best suited to draw the line between must-have and wish-list features and benefits.

  • Include your VP of Engineering (or comparable role) to ensure a good fit with larger company and team goals.  If a conflict exists between the needs of your engineers, the capabilities of your software, and your company’s larger strategic plans, you need to know that before you make an expensive CAD investment.  Make sure to include upper level management input to ensure that your proposed 3D CAD software platform supports your larger team needs, and not simply your day-to-day product design operations.

  • Finance/purchasing representatives should be involved, in order to determine the investment value of the CAD purchase.  While a large software platform purchase may offer a blizzard of wonderful tools and fit perfectly with company goals, it may turn out to be too expensive or financially awkward to be considered a worthwhile investment.  Including finance and purchasing in the decision-making process not only helps prevent this sort of conflict, it also helps determine the best timing for a purchase, as well as the most favorable means of structuring it with the vendor.  

  • Don’t forget training and support.  Any new CAD platform is going to bring with it a flurry of communications needs, from robust user training to development of support materials.  It may be worth including those responsible for these tasks in the decision process – if, for no other reason, just to make sure that once a purchase is made, your engineering team can get up to speed with the new tools in record time.

  • Don’t be afraid to draw on vendor resources.  Your 3D CAD vendor should be considered as more than simply a sales point of contact and a phone number to call if things go wrong.  Your vendor can arrange software demos, help you design effective trials, consult on training, and help with many more critical tasks.  Most of all, your vendor representatives have the resources and experience necessary to guide you through the selection process, as well as help make a platform rollout smooth and easy.  Don’t ignore those advantages.

The members of your CAD software selection team, far from being simply advisors, are all critical stakeholders in the process itself – and the keys to making any new 3D CAD software investment a valuable and useful one.  By choosing them wisely, you can ensure that your company’s design software includes all the tools necessary for your engineering operations to grow and thrive.

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