Most engineers would agree that it’s important to get feedback from design partners early in the design process, before your design is solidified. In fact, according to a recent survey of the GrabCAD community, almost 90% of engineers told us they have had to redo work because they got feedback too late. This is especially true when dealing with partners outside your company, like suppliers. But it’s such a hassle! Fortunately we have some ideas to make it easier.
We all know feedback is important
Designers know that they need to run their design past various other stakeholders. For example, a supplier can often give really useful feedback that can improve the performance or reduce the cost of a part. Getting that feedback early can prevent an engineer from wasting time on the wrong design approach. Ideally, you would want that feedback (along with thoughts from supply chain, marketing, the service group and other people) as early and as often as possible.
But asking for feedback is a hassle
Engineers don’t ask for enough feedback because it takes a lot of time. Let’s look at the example of that supplier. Often your suppliers use a different CAD system, or don’t have a CAD system at all. This means the engineer can’t just email them a file (assuming that the CAD file is small enough to email). You will likely need to take screen shots, put them in a slide deck and email the slide deck to the supplier, who will likely print out the slides, mark them up, and fax the result back. Taking screen shots and reading faxes is not how you want to spend your day.
Even if the vendor has the same version of the same CAD package, getting the files back and forth and keeping track of who commented on which version takes up a lot of time, which most designers don’t have to spare. So instead of constant feedback you wait until late in the design process, and occasionally have to redo the work when someone points you in a new direction.
If only there was a way to seek input from the right people throughout the project without creating a lot of extra work!
Rethink your release process
GrabCAD added “Partner Spaces” to Workbench for just this purpose. A Partner Space is a folder within a Workbench project with special properties. People invited to that folder can’t see anything else in the project, just the version of the file in the folder and any comments made in that folder. It’s an ideal way to invite vendors or other people you want to get input from, but don’t want to share the whole project (with all versions, comments and markups) with. In addition to restricted viewing for partners, a Partner Space contains only the version of the file you chose to publish to it, which means that your design team can keeping updating the file in the main project without your partners seeing the changes. (For a quick video overview of Partner Spaces from the partner perspective click here)
Partner Spaces just got easier
Better yet, starting today we’ve made it even easier to invite a partner to a Partner Space by offering “link only” invitations. We now offer two options for invitations:
Registered - A partner is required to create a Workbench account, which just means picking a password. This ensure that only that partner can access the folder.
Link Only - A partner simply clicks on a link and is taken directly to the Partner Space, with no need to register. This makes it even faster for a partner to give feedback.
Try it out and let us know what you think
This new feature was a direct result of customer feedback, so please let us know what you think of it, and whether you have other ideas for making Partner Spaces even easier to use.