Wire Harness Design Software & Support

6 Questions You Should Ask Your Software Tool Vendor Before You Buy

6 Questions You Should Ask Your Software Tool Vendor Before You Buy

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If you followed our last post, you will have been able to successfully persuade your exec team that investing in a new design tool for your wire harnesses will be hugely beneficial. To ensure you get the best tool for your application with the best possible vendor support, here are six key questions you need to be asking:

1)  Will I be able to evaluate the software to try before I buy?

Assessing the quality of a software tool is a tricky balance between hard objectivity and the very subjective individual user experience.  Most vendors will allow you to assess the general usability of the package, however you should also look carefully at the scope of the evaluation you are permitted. For example, how long will the evaluation period last? It should be long enough that you can fully explore how it will fit into your workflows so an evaluation that last just a couple of hours will not allow you to study this fully.

You will also need to take time to discover how intuitive the software is. Your team may comprise a range of ages and experience so a tool that is straightforward and intuitive will be of great benefit when it comes to full deployment. Speaking of the differences in your team, try to ensure that employees with different knowledge, age and experience are part of the evaluation process. Their feedback and user experience will be invaluable when it comes to final decision time.

2)  What support do you provide during the evaluation period not just from a user perspective but also with starter Connector libraries?

This is perhaps an extension of question 1, however I think it is important enough to warrant its place.

When you agree the evaluation period with your vendor, you really do not want to spend the first few days creating your library of devices to use in the trial design. Creating a library is not going to help you evaluate whether the tool is a good fit for you. Many vendors do not include a library of validated connectors so be sure to check before you proceed.  A tool such as Arcadia, includes a library of validated devices which means you can immediately start testing the software in a real design environment.

3)  Is the application truly Cloud Based and future proof?

You need to know that the application is truly in the Cloud running direct from your web browser, otherwise your vendor will sooner or later have to port updates, and this could introduce an issue moving from one release (and technology) to another.  The Cloud facilitates collaboration between manufacturers and their customers, thereby reducing time and misunderstandings between the two for design iterations.  If you vendor has to send you software updates to port across this could potentially have a major impact on your designs and collaboration with your customers.

4)  Do you, as a software vendor, provide a library of Connectors that covers all the accessories the connector manufacturers specify in their datasheets?

We have already established that it is advantageous to use a software tool that includes a library of connectors. To gain the maximum benefit from the new tool and speed up deployment, if it includes as standard, comprehensive Connector libraries will save your design engineers a great deal of time and effort during the harness design process. The libraries will provide the ability to place the correct component directly into the design.

5)  What evidence are you able to share of the excellent user support you have a reputation for providing?

Ideally one of your vendor’s consultants will work as a member of your team to provide advice on how best to deploy the tool in your company's environment. Feel free to ask for testimonials or references and follow up on them to find out for yourself what other’s user experiences have been.

6)  Are you able to provide tailored training for our unique requirements?

You will need training that enables your users to acquire the knowledge and skills to deploy the software tool quickly and effectively.  In my experience, it is important for users to master the full range of features associated with any software package thoroughly, both during the introductory period and with day-to-day use. Proper training is necessary in order to ensure that the system is used cost effectively within the shortest period of time, and also to enhance the level of performance achieved.

New state-of-the-art software tools are a long-term investment, so you need to be satisfied with your potential vendor’s responses to these questions.  Remember that time is money and taking the time for an extensive evaluation and checking your vendor’s support systems is going to save you both money and time in the long run and you will be well on your way to selecting the right software partner. 

 

 

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Centricity Consulting is a UK-based company specialising in software tools and services for the design, analysis and manufacture of wire harnesses and flexible materials. Talk to us today about your engineering needs.

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