10 common mistakes when implementing a new CAD system in the company
The main stream of a manufacturing company is product production. From material supply to delivery and assembly. This process requires a variety of information without which production simply cannot take place. Therefore, each company has a separate information flow, which feeds the production flow with all the necessary information.
With growing competition, the demands on the product flow become increasingly demanding. This, in turn, imposes requirements on the information – its full-fledged and operative nature.
One of the main sources of information for a furniture company is the CAD system. It generates information about the product itself for other main activities – supply, production, accounting, management, etc. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of CAD for all company activities. Therefore, its choice is critical not only for its immediate users – the constructors but for the whole company.
Below we will list the main mistakes made by companies when implementing the new CAD system.
- Internal users – constructors, are mistakenly assumed to be objective when choosing a new system, while proposers are subjective. Unfortunately, constructors are also subjective – they have their own beliefs, preferences, and motivations that influence their choices, which are not always in the best interests of the company. Therefore, it is worth listening to the opinion of the providers as well. Of course, they are interested in selling, but it is also important for them to get a good final result.
- CAD selection is entrusted for designers – direct CAD users. This is a mistake because the information generated by CAD is a source for other main company activities – production, supply, accounting, management. Therefore, not only designers have to be included in CAD selection, but also other process stakeholders who have their own requirements for CAD-generated information.
- No requirements for CAD system are identified and documented. Failure to unify participants’ understanding of what the new system should meet from the beginning becomes a source of internal conflict and complicates communication with CAD vendors.
- There are no criteria for what the result of a system installation should be. If there is no answer to the question ‘How do we know that the project is completed?’, there is no way to manage the deployment of the project.
- Enterprise-wide deployment starts immediately. No time and resources invested in the pilot project, only evaluating theoretical analysis and software trial is a big mistake. An abstract trial run without training and without attempting to design real company objects does not provide sufficient depth of information to make a decision. The pilot project gives the customer a realistic experience. After the pilot project, the customer makes his decision based not on the information provided by the suppliers but on his actual experience. Another very important benefit of the pilot project is that using the system to solve real tasks, highlights the missing features and provides the necessary jobs for the final integration of the system. This gives the exact scope of the integration.
- Declining the integration project. Today, there is a huge variety of business models, processes, equipment, traditions, materials used, products manufactured, so there is no such CAD on the market that would immediately satisfy all the requirements of the company, without any adjustments. Once the integration project is declined, the CAD system is not adapted, and part of the operations have to be done manually. This results in lower productivity and increased error rates.
- Declining the integration project – II. ‘Our engineers are smart, they’ll make it work.’ Big mistake. Engineers, being competent in product design, are not competent in systems implementation, since these are completely different competencies. The experience of the engineers is limited to a very small number of systems and a small number of companies, and the supplier brings his experience of integration i.e. brings the best practices. Also, behind the supplier is the experience and support of the software developer.
- The integration project is not the highest priority. By default, the highest priority in a company is revenue-generating activities. As a result, unless the integration project is given a higher priority, these activities occupy the project resources – the engineers. Since the engineers tend to be bottleneck throughout the process, they are fully loaded and there is no time left for the integration project. There are pauses in the integration that make it harder and harder to get back to it. The project goes on for an unjustifiably long time, and sometimes become abandoned altogether.
- Management favors optimistic expectations regarding implementation times. Those terms that the installer calls should be considered optimistic and longer terms should be planned. However, the management does the opposite – they lower those optimistic expectations and, accordingly, expect a faster realization of the project. However, it is not possible to anticipate all possible obstacles during startup, so be prepared for surprises.
- Management lacks a strong position. Implementing a new system is a tedious process where people working on a project get tired of new challenges and start resisting to prove that the system is not working. As a result, management here has to show its tough stance to divert energy away from excuses to the set goals.
These points are from our more than 20 years’ experience doing implementations in various companies. We hope knowing it and considering all aspects will help you to prepare better for new system integration in your company. As you can see it’s not only a change for the designers. The whole company is included and affected by such integration and the right mindset from the beginning is already a huge step forward in the whole integration process.