MBD Implementation 10 DOs and 10 DON’Ts – Measure Progress

The prior post on the 10 Dos and Don’ts of MBD Implementations, Don’t be Confined to Design Department Alone, concluded the first chapter regarding the People aspect in Table 1. Today we are starting the second chapter on Process, specifically on methodologies, procedures, and tools. First recommendation is to measure progress.


Measuring can give implementation team and executives much-needed clarity on many key questions such as:

  • How much time and cost have 3D processes saved?
  • Which procedures saved more (or less)? Why?
  • Which procedures didn’t improve? Why?
  • What type of projects saw significant (or insignificant) results? Why?
  • What teams and suppliers adapted well or badly? Why?
  •  Where are the bottlenecks? Why?
  • What is the feedback from all participants?
  • What improvements are needed in the next implementation phase regarding People, Process, and Product?

An added benefit of metrics is to handle objections often encountered. The best answer to fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is hard data, which can shut down noisy philosophical arguments right away. If positive progress data is achieved, it can help build up confidence, rally supports, and secure future funding and resources. If metrics are not so ideal, then data can help trace down bottlenecks and root causes.

Best Ways to Measure Success of MBD Implementations

Then how to measure? The first step is to establish a baseline: Where are we? How are resources, time, and money consumed across all the procedures? What are the key challenges today? What are the quantifiable consequences due to these challenges? The baseline today sets up a benchmark for tomorrow’s implementation results to compare against.

If a measuring mechanism has been established in an organization, that’s great. If not, never too late to start now. Pick something small, such as two relatively isolated but similar projects. One is executed via traditional 2D drawing process as the controlled sample; one is done following MBD approach. Then measure the time, cost, resources, and quality at each stage in the entire process: from design to operating method definition, machining, procurement, tooling, assembly, inspection, packaging, documentation, even to sales and support. This kind of apple-to-apple comparison can provide great insights on what goes well and what can be improved.

Another tool is a survey. A regular (quarterly or yearly) survey can be sent to MBD participants to collect feedback and track changes. Try to keep the questions identical across survey occurrences to obtain truly comparable responses at different time points.

Similarly, an organization can develop MBD certifications to gauge participant’s capabilities on various teams. Certification is not only an incentive and recognition, but also a measuring stick and badge of honor in professional development. GE’s Six Sigma Black Belt or Cisco’s network engineering certifications are good examples. Once there is certain amount of certified participants, implementation team will have more gauges on the implementation progress regarding number of certifications obtained, pass rates, types, and levels. By the way, here are ten FREE MySolidWorks MBD learning lessons. Over 3 hours of videos, click exercises, quizzes along with SOLIDWORKS sample files are all free for all registered accounts.MBD_Learning_Materials

At enterprise level, National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. published an assessment tool for businesses and their suppliers. The image below only captured key points at high level. You may find deeper level details on its website, such as non-geometry product definition, data association, quality, design changes, technical communication and so on. One point worth noting is if your organization communicates with 3D model as the authority and 2D drawings as a facilitation, then you are not far from Level 3 Model-Based Definition, which is a common practice for about half of SOLIDWORKS customers already (Source: SOLIDWORKS customer base survey, 2015, sample size: 524).


This first blog post on the second chapter (Process) around MBD implementation shared several thoughts on measuring. The next blog will drill down further on this model-centric point, that is, don’t reply on 2D drawing as the master anymore. To learn more about SOLIDWORKS MBD, please visit its product page. Also welcome to discuss with me at Twitter (@OboeWu) or LinkedIn (OboeWu).

Oboe Wu

Product portfolio manager of SOLIDWORKS MBD, passionate about smart manufacturing opportunities, Keen listener to customer challenges, Sharp problem solver with 20 years of experiences in engineering, Sleepless father trying best to take care of a baby daughter.