Usually if I run into an issue while using SE I come to this forum, and 9 times out of 10 I can ususally find an answer if I search long enough. But that takes time, and I'm wondering if I've been making life harder by not going to GTAC or my VAR for this. Should they be my first line of support? If so, when should I use GTAC vs my VAR?
The answer is free here, but you can not use GTAC or VAR's support without maintenance contract... (I think...) This is the main differences and helping you and others is a passion for us (community members)!
What I have to say here is just from my personal experience, not official Siemens policy.
The best place to get help really depends on what kind of question you have. If you simply can't find something like a setting, the first thing to access would be the Help. You might be surprised. Next, the guy at the workstation in the next cube might know something you don't. A google search often will lead you to the right place. You'll find a lot of good answers on youtube.
If you think you're seeing a bug, then I would start with your reseller. If you don't get the kind of answer you think you should get, go to GTAC. The community or the internet in general can't help you with a bug, other than to offer work-arounds. GTAC and the PR list are ultimately the tools to get bugs fixed. Enhancements are the same. Your fellow community members can commiserate about a particular enhancement you really want, but only your VAR or GTAC can really get this on track to be considered for being added to the software.
VARs vary. Some VARs technical people are really excellent. Sometimes they have specialized knowledge, like someone who worked in ship building for 5 years before joining the reseller might have stellar advice on calculating flotation. This is something you'll just have to evaluate and find out for yourself. You may or may not be able to call up ResellerX and ask for Rex.
Or it might be an application problem, like if you can use virtual components to solve a particular problem you have with non-geometrical BOM parts. In cases like that, it can be useful to have contacts inside - or the community can help you get access to insiders.
Where I would tend to lean on the community most would be for "how to" type questions. Your neighbors on the community really excel at that. This is not to say you shouldn't take training, because asking every question on the community would take a lot of time. You definitely need to start out with training. But a lot of questions go far beyond training materials. Or there are some types of information that official documentation is unlikely to cover (such as the limitations of a certain feature).
The VAR may not be anxious to train you in little bits over the phone. They may suggest that you come to a training class if they think the kind of questions you are asking are training type of questions. That's a good thing, because the training will be a more efficient way to convey a lot of that type of info.
On the other hand, if you keep asking how to do little tasks in organic type surfacing design, they may suggest that you hire a consultant, which may also be more efficient than trying to piece together a complex process on your own from answers on the forum.
I guess the short answer is that you're paying maintenance so you can have access to VARs and GTAC. Definitely use them. But sometimes it may be more convenient (after hours) or might be beyond the scope of what tech support is supposed to entail, and for those times, the community is here for you.
A very good question. It has to do with experience, numbers, and time.
Here you will get the most eyes seeing your issue and will have the most experienced folks to answer it, but it will be based on their time table to reply back to you.
A VAR should have a relationship with you and given that would know what kind of stuff you do and the type of issues you might run into. They are also paid by you to do this work, so they are on your time table and should resolve it quickly.
GTAC is not available to everyone, but they have many very experienced folks that can answer some tough questions and they also know who to talk to to get answers no one knows but the developer. These are the folks your VAR calls when they can't answer your question...
My rule of thumb:
We self support for general usage questions (me) and if I can't resolve the issue, then I call GTAC. Typically my calls to GTAC result in either a problem report (PR) or an enhancement request (ER). On occasion if we have had some modeling questions regarding moulded plastic parts, I would forward the user to our VAR for that kind of stuff. I will sometimes post this on the forum as well if the resolution is not urgent.
With over 100 users, we have built some internal levels of support that seem to work quite well. Of course, levels 1-3 might be one person at a smaller company.
When someone needs help, I suggest:
1. Peer support
2. Power Users (one or two Power Users in a design group.)
3. CAD Administrator
4. Administrator and Power users can access SE Forum to research how-to type questions.
5.a. When issues are company/environment specific, the Admin contacts the VAR. I expect the VAR to know what version of SE and MP we are using, and have feedback from other customers about problems with a MP, or interactions with other software we use.
5.b. When SE fails to work "correctly" contact GTAC to log Problem Report, or Enhancement Request.
We also use our VAR to provide training for special functions like Surfacing.
Hope this Helps,
@pkelecy The VAR responsibility is an expectation that I think SE management should be communicating to the VAR and the customers so both have an idea what the VAR should be doing for the customer. I hear all too often that a VAR is only in contact with a customer when it's time to pay the maintenance invoice... There needs to be a number set of how many days a VAR owes you for your maintenance, and that is either used to answer questions or to provide classroom training. If you don't ask questions, then they need to provide training... Also, a VAR should visit you and get to know you for more than how much maintence dollars they get from you.
A combination is best. I would start with the forum for most problems. If you can wait a few hours for a posible responce. Many here are excillent at answering simple things quickly. There are also quite a few who will make vids or screen shots that solve your issue.
I have found the Var to not be very valuble because they dont have the experience is doing the exact kind of work being done.
GTAC is excelent. They can both solve the problem with experties and file an ER/PR when there is no solution. The ER/PR system is the only way to get changes into the software.
This is the great thing about SE. GTAC is listening and using the feedback to shape the software. NO other 3D program has that system set up as slick as GTAC.
But in general, I try not to bother GTAC unless you want enhasements to the software. It takes time to present the problems in a way it can be put into a can for them to use.
I am a one man show, so I dont have any administrator, peers, etc. The forum is my only line of communication about the software other than GTAC.
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions on this.
I should have mentioned that I do usually start with the built in help. Sometimes that solves it, sometimes not. What I've noticed with the help is that it's pretty good at telling you "what" (ie what a command is used for, in what situations, etc) but not always the "how" (where the command is located, what are the steps involved, etc).
@ Grundey - I agree more clarification from Siemens and VAR s would be very helpful. I like your idea of VARs providing a set number of days of support or training. I doubt they will like that though. No doubt profits would go down if customers started requiring more than just the processing of their maintenance payment.
@ 12GAGE, I'm in the same boat as you - just one person working for myself. I've been using SE since 2008 and can only recall contacting my VAR once in all that time on a support related issue. Clearly in my case the VAR is not providing much value.
Thanks again for all the feedback. I appreciate it.