Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SolidWorks Workgroup PDM - Perhaps the fastest ROI one might ever see!

Avoiding additional license and support costs, SolidWorks Workgroup PDM might just provide the fastest CAD file management 'Return On Investment' (ROI) that one might ever see!

To be certain, Workgroup PDM is not for every company. Rather it seems to be ideally suited for smaller-sized engineering departments (1-15) that could truly benefit from a CAD vault system, but who do not require a full-blown PDM system. Of course, committing to any CAD vault system is an investment, therefore there are a few questions one should consider. The answers will build confidence in the decision making process, while gaining important 'buy-in' from those directly affected with the decision.

What are the Costs?
Since Workgroup PDM is included with each seat of the Professional and Premium license, the upfront monetary investment is $0. The only intrinsic costs to consider are simply time for setup and providing a server.
Please note that one could also choose to simply use an existing computer that could function as the 'vault server', however many CAD Administrators have preferred to assign an actual server that is separate from any of the users computers.

How easy is it to Implement?
Anticipate that a reasonable amount of time will need to be allocated for preparations, setup, testing, implementing, and training. These aspects will initially affect the CAD Administrator and in-house IT, but is quite easily fit into the schedule, per se. Bear in mind that the benefits will far outweigh the time expended.

How easy is it to Use?
Because this is a SolidWorks Add-In, most will find it is very intuitive. Access to the Vault is conveniently provided through either the SolidWorks Main Menu / Task Pane or through SolidWorks Explorer. The usability is very straightforward and basic. Albeit limited, there are a number of capable features that make this a very practical means to manage and control files. Typically, SolidWorks users who previously had no PDM system to manage their CAD files will quickly embrace Workgroup PDM as a significant contributor to improved performance.

What Support can be expected?
SolidWorks has openly acknowledged that for the foreseeable future they will continue providing and supporting Workgroup PDM. They have also stated explicitly that there will be no further development of the Add-In.

That being said, it then becomes a personal decision as to whether to commit to a PDM system that in all probability will eventually be phased out. Does the effort to establish a temporary PDM system outweigh the alternative of not having one. Probably so, as the benefits become instantaneous.  It also places one in a better position to migrate organized CAD files to another PDM system in the future, should the need arise.