Are You Changing CADTools? What You Should Know

If you are competing in today’s global economy, it is not easy. Significant global

competition plus pressure from new entrants and innovative start-ups techmake it difficult to

stand out. To improve competitiveness, Tech-Clarity’s study, Product Lifecycle

Management Beyond Managing CAD, finds companies have shifted focus from market

factors like time-to-market or cost to product-centric strategies. Design tools, especially

CAD, are key to executing these product strategies. With the right design tools,

companies are better positioned to quickly bring high-performing, high-quality,

innovative products to market. Companies looking to upgrade these tools to keep up with

competitors may want to consider switching CAD tools.

So what should you do if you find your CAD tool is holding you back? What if your

company needs to update CAD tools? Why would you consider a change? What should

you expect? Is it worth the time to convert archived data into a new format? Most

importantly, do the benefits outweigh potential risks?

Business reasons rather than problems with CAD tools

have become more influential when choosing a CAD tool.

Tech-Clarity surveyed 192 companies to answer these questions. While there are many

interesting findings, the most striking is that business reasons rather than problems with

CAD tools have become more influential when choosing a CAD tool and are motivating

factors behind the need to switch tools. Growing influencers include supply chains,

relationships, the vendor’s vision for design, and the CAD vendors’ full breadth of

offerings. This big picture view of CAD indicates higher levels of management make

buying decisions and they view CAD as a strategic piece of a larger product development

sol Companies who made a CAD change seven or more years ago, were often going from 2D

CAD to 3D. Now, companies are driven by budget reductions. This could be because

they are looking to achieve cost savings by consolidating CAD tools and the number of

licenses. Interestingly, this was also a top driver four to six years ago, at the height of the

recession, but the pressure was coming from IT rather than the engineering budget.

Companies making a change now may also feel they will lower cost through efficiency

improvements that better utilize resources and help release products more quickly.

Compared to the past, companies are also much more influenced by supply chains or

OEMs, internal politics, the CAD vendor’s vision for design, and the CAD vendor’s

portfolio of products.

In addition to the CAD tool, the vendor relationship is also an important consideration.

With CAD playing a more strategic role in development, manufacturers need a vendor

who is a true partner. Figure 11 shows the top qualities companies value in a CAD


About the Author

Michelle Boucher is the Vice President of Research for Engineering Software for

research firm Tech-Clarity. Michelle has spent over 20 years in various roles in

engineering, marketing, management, and as an analyst. She has broad experience

with topics such as product design, simulation, systems engineering, mechatronics,

embedded systems, PCB design, improving product performance, process improvement,

and mass customization. She graduated magna cum laude with an MBA from Babson

College and earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering, with distinction, from Worcester

Polytechnic Institute