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Online Feature



Companies Focus on Determining Collaboration Needs

July 2001

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The lead feature in the July issue of NASA Tech Briefs deals with CAD and collaborative engineering tools. These tools are generally used to increase productivity, reduce cost, and improve communications throughout a company's entire design and production process.

Web4's eReview combines a way to conduct online meetings with the ability to view numerous documents in real time over the Internet.

At face value, incorporating these tools sounds like the answer to just about any problem a company could have. However, with such a huge range of options and products, how do you determine what types of tools your company needs? Once your company has made the decision to incorporate CAD and collaborative tools into its business model, the next big choice is figuring out just what types of tools to get.

Before a company goes shopping for faster and better tools, they must first determine how those tools are going to be used. Dr. Yuri Kizimovich, president and co-founder of 3Ga. Corp, believes that having a clear idea about what collaborative engineering will be used for is essential.

"Companies have to distinguish what collaboration means to their productivity," said Kizimovich. He explained that having a clear plan for how collabortive engineering is going to be implemented makes it easier to figure out what kinds of tools are needed.

For larger companies, the answer to collaborative needs is most likely a well-established brand name. According to Paul Bemis, vice president of eBusiness for ANSYS, a company's size will often determine its design collaboration needs.

"The bigger companies will go for a more established solution provider," said Bemis. "Smaller companies tend to be less interested in a one-stop shop for all their needs, and more interested in the technology itself and their design process to see which one fits."

A company's size can also reflect another important factor when it comes to making this decision. How much money can a company afford to spend on collaborative engineering technology? What is the most cost-effective way to solve the problems at hand? netGuru's vice president of engineering technology, Santanu Das, believes that cost savings plays a huge role in choosing the technology into which a company is going to invest its money.

"The bigger companies can afford to provide that initial investment that they know will pay off in the long run. Small companies can't afford to put that initial investment down, although it would save them money in the long run. What they do is something that will save them money in the short run, like renting an application on-line," Das said.

As with many shifts in a company business plan, one of the bigger concerns is making any transition as seamless as possible. Choosing what kind of collaborative software to implement is no exception. John McEleney, chief operating officer for SolidWorks, believes that when all is said and done, simplicity will rule the day when it comes to making that decision.

"People tend to use things that work and get the job done easier. Because of that, what we're seeing is a rapid uptake in tools that aren't sold at the corporate level," said McEleney.


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3Ga. Corp.





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