What To Look For in a New CAD Tool and Vendor

Making the decision to change CAD tools isn’t something any company takes lightly, whether it has five seats of CAD software or 100. In previous posts we have discussed the reasons behind making the switch and the specific challenges of the existing tool that lead up to such a change. Catch up on those topics by reading “What Drives a Change in CAD tools” and “What Challenges with CAD Tools Drive a Change.

There are myriad considerations to take into account when embarking upon a change in CAD tools. What type of training will be needed? What type of cultural resistance will there be among users? What will happen to all that legacy CAD data? Will there be downtime? How long before users are fully productive on new tool?

What are you looking for in a new CAD tool?
Perhaps the first questions to answer, however, pertain to exactly what qualities you are seeking in the new system. In the Tech-Clarity white paper, “Are You Changing CAD Tools; What you Should Know” author Michelle Boucher asked respondents from over 192 companies what were the most important qualities they were looking for in the new tool. She also compares the responses between high-performing companies with lesser-performing companies.
As you can see in the chart above, the biggest quality all companies are looking for is ease of use with over three-quarters of respondents at the high-performing companies (77 percent) indicating this was the most important quality of the CAD solution. Of note, the top-performing companies were 19 percent more likely to rate ease of use as a top quality of a CAD solution. This likely helps them resume full productivity eight weeks before their competitors, even with less training.

Next up was software quality (65 percent and 59 percent, respectively). The ability to work with multi-CAD data (58 and 50 percent, respectively) was also ranked high in importance as was the software tool’s ability to support existing workflows (54 and 50 percent, respectively).
What to look for in a CAD vendor
In addition to the CAD tool, the vendor relationship is also an important consideration. With CAD playing a more strategic role in product development, manufacturers need a vendor who will serve as a true partner. The chart below shows the top qualities companies value in a CAD vendor.
Not surprisingly the top quality in a vendor is the quality and availability of technical support with 69 percent of top-performing companies ranking this as the number-one quality, followed by the quality and availability of the vendor’s professional services. The respondents from the top-performing companies were 18 percent more likely than their competitors to rate quality technical support as their top criteria for a vendor.

Good phone support provides these companies with yet another resource to supplement training and enable engineers to quickly resume full productivity. Technical Support can come both from the vendor and Value Added Reseller (VAR) channels. What’s important is that engineers have easy access to help.

Top Performers were also 47 percent more likely to consider the market share of vendors. Market share makes it easier to find partners and suppliers who are working with the same design tools. It also makes it easier to find a resource pool from which to hire. Hiring trained users means the company doesn’t need to invest in additional training.

Learn more about making a switch in CAD tools by reading the white paper “Changing CAD Tools? What you Should Know.” For additional resources that will help you understand the benefits of transitioning from other 3D CAD tools to SOLIDWORKS, visit this page.


Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.