General Software

New Software — Is It a Go?

27 Mar, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Which new releases are worth the time and money to implement?

It is finally springtime, and you know what that means: new software releases! As a CAD manager you’ll be one of the first to evaluate new software programs, and you’ll be peppered with questions from users and managers alike.

So what is the best process for evaluating new and/or updated software? Here’s a basic checklist I’ve used for years that continues to serve me well:

  • Read! Read web sites, read blogs, read anything you can find about the new software just to get ahead of the curve in terms of new features. The more you know before you get the software, the easier it’ll be to evaluate.
  • What’s new? Focus on examining the highly touted new features in the release, and in each case ask yourself the question, “Does this feature help us do things better?”
  • What’s streamlined? What functions that you use all the time have been improved or streamlined? In other words, are there any opportunities for your users to save "clicks and picks"?
  • How different does it feel? Will your users be confused by new features? Will adjusting to a new interface require a substantial learning period? Show the new software to a few trusted users, and take note of their feelings on these issues.

Now consider what you’ve learned, and ask yourself this key question: “Based on what I’ve found, will this new release save us enough time, clicks, and picks to pay for its installation and training in the next year?”

If you answered No, then you may want to skip the release in favor of optimizing the software and procedures you already have in place. If you answered Yes, then you can start the detailed analysis and planning required to implement the software. Either way, you’ll be moving forward with a detailed knowledge of the technology available to you so you can speak to users and managers with confidence. And if you're looking for a more detailed examination of this evaluation process, see "The Minimalist's Guide to CAD Software Upgrade Decisions."

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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