Managing design resources to meet customer’s demands for new products and design changes is a significant challenge faced by all design managers. We recently ran a survey of 150 engineers and engineering managers at smaller manufacturing companies where all of the respondents had responsibility for CAD software. We wanted to understand the pressures they faced and the role of CAD software availability and performance in meeting these pressures. We first asked them an inward looking question - what was most difficult for their design teams to plan for? The response was that project timelines and workloads were significantly harder for them to plan for than new requests from their customers, or the number of designers needed.
We then asked a similar, but more outward looking and customer focused question, what was hardest for them to fulfill in terms of meeting their customer’s requirements? This showed that project timeline was still the highest rated area of concern, with other important areas being meeting their customer’s budget and quality demands.
To try and assess how their CAD infrastructure helped or hindered them in meeting their customer's needs we asked what actions they had taken to ensure that their design projects were completed effectively. We found that more than 60% had invested in new CAD software and hardware to complete their design projects more effectively. Moving designers between projects was also reported by 50% of the respondents, and 30% reported both outsourcing design work and hiring temporary design staff. It is clear from the survey results that availability of CAD software and hardware is critical to meeting customer demands, and can even be more important than flexibility in terms of how design staff are utilized.
One solution to these pressures can be to purchase monthly subscriptions for CAD software. This can provide a flexible and cost effective solution to the peaks and troughs in the requirement for design resources, resulting in improved performance in meeting customer delivery dates and budgets. In previous blogs we discussed how Solid Edge monthly subscriptions are meeting the needs of both inventors and small companies, and the needs of larger companies. One request that we received was for some guidance around when purchasing a monthly subscription would be more cost effective than purchasing a perpetual license. When comparing the cost of these two license types you need to figure in that the monthly fee for subscriptions includes maintenance costs (upgrades and technical support), whereas for perpetual licenses maintenance is an additional cost. When comparing the costs of purchasing Solid Edge Classic as a perpetual license to purchasing monthly subscriptions a simple analysis showed a "break even" point of 3 years and 7 months, for shorter time periods than this purchasing CAD software through monthly subscriptions was more cost effective than purchasing a perpetual license.
However there are other considerations that will significantly impact this equation for specific users:
- a monthly subscription can be cancelled at the end of any month, and then reactivated when needed. Several of our smaller customers who may go through design phases followed by manufacturing phases are using this approach, so the point at which they will have spent more money by using subscriptions can be significantly greater than 4 years
- the timing for purchasing (and dropping) subscription licenses can be closely tied to hiring (and terminating) temporary design staff
- a monthly subscription can be purchased in several different levels of Solid Edge, giving more flexibility in terms of the modules needed for different design projects
- the impact on cash flow is an important consideration, purchasing monthly subscriptions spreads the cost over time
- a perpetual license has a “residual” value, it can still be used even if maintenance is dropped
Considerations for selecting perpetual or monthly subscription licenses
In conclusion, I believe that design managers can find the flexibility they need to match design resources to customer demands, keep to their project timelines and keep control of their costs, by adding a component of monthly subscriptions to their CAD infrastructure.