MANAGING CAD/CAM/CAE


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Scoping the implementation review


The original justification for purchase of the CAD/CAM/CAE system should have been made on the basis of its effects on, and benefits for, the company as a whole. Even if some of the interfaces that were originally intended have not been built and the current use of the system is confined to a single engineering or drafting department, it will nevertheless be necessary to consider its interaction with the rest of the company in order to ensure that redefined objectives and plans are complete and well founded.

It certainly will be necessary to refer to the justification document on which approval for purchase was based, as well as to the original project plans for implementation and training. These should be assessed for their content, but should not necessarily be taken as a guide for redefined plans and objectives, since it is possible that the scope, detail, and even accuracy of these documents was less than ideal.

The review must be led by someone with suitable stature and experience, since it will take input from many sources, such as designers, the Engineering manager, lead users, and members of other departments such as production, purchasing and marketing. It will also include appropriate involvement from top management in order that a complete picture be obtained.

To successfully carry out the review, the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager must take on the role of an outsider, someone who is seeing the system and the implementation afresh or for the first time. The first task will be to stop looking at everyday system details, and take a long-term view.

The question of what should and could be gained from CAD/CAM/CAE must be asked anew. Leaving aside the practicalities and limitations of the system for the time being, what can be gained from using CAD/CAM/CAE within the engineering department? In what areas of the company or with what other systems would some form of information transfer be of benefit? Are there opportunities for automating graphic or textual operations that are found to be tedious? As the questions become more extensive, the less viable the replies become, but some valid suggestions may be offered to a reviewer who has an open mind.

A long hard look at the control of information is required: Is there a guarantee that all data is backed up? Will retrieval from archive or back-up allow the correct information to be called up? Can issued and standard data be accidentally accessed or illegally modified? Is management certain that drafters are not duplicating information on the board or on the screen?

Does the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager have enough support? Is it of the right sort? Is the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager informed of all new projects, or are some projects secretly laid out elsewhere? Does the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager have sufficient feedback from superiors about the wider implications of CAD/CAM/CAE, or from members of other departments who may feel that their work is adversely affected by CAD/CAM/CAE?

How is the CAD/CAM/CAE system accountable - for what and to whom? It may well be the case that accountability for CAD/CAM/CAE was relaxed when the first installation and implementation problems occurred. They must be reinstated, even if this superficially appears to limit freedom and flexibility of action.

Are there other projects that impact on CAD/CAM/CAE? Does CAD/CAM/CAE affect other projects? Who is responsible for the progress and execution of model and drawing information? Is information produced as drawings simply because methodology has remained unchanged since drawing board days? Has the use, quality, and communication of information been improved? Have the company's overall requirements of CAD/CAM/CAE changed? What are the views of the user committee? Are operating procedures working? Are skill levels increasing? Are forward plans being developed? Is equipment obsolete? Are the right questions being asked? Are people spending too much time looking at the Web?






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Page last modified on February 11, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark