It’s easy to understand the need for a data management system if you’ve ever spent hours searching for misplaced product files or overwritten somebody else’s 3D designs. But can you convince the IT department, aka the “No” team, why your company needs to say “Yes” to PDM?
You might have to, because when IT staff see a project as a threat to company systems, data, or resources, they can pull the cord and kill your hopes for better CAD file management—or at least they can slow them way down. To get IT on your side, get ready to address the issues they care about most, starting with how PDM benefits them.
What Your IT Department Will Love About PDM
The good news is that the concept of product data management is something most IT pros should embrace. Nobody who understands security wants to see you continue to hold valuable intellectual property on desktop file systems or shared servers. And they certainly don’t want to hear that you’ve been emailing files inside and outside the company.
Plus, in a company with PDM processes in place, IT can look forward to fewer requests for restoring those old and overwritten files you lost.
What Your IT Department Might Ask About PDM
While your network and computer team will appreciate the advantages, they’ll have questions. And the answers will depend in part on the PDM software you’re thinking about implementing: Enterprise installations take the most time and involvement from IT (and everyone else). Smaller workgroup deployments can move faster, especially if they’re preconfigured with roles and business rules. Cloud solutions may require the least amount of attention, but a good IT team will ask critical questions to make sure your company data and systems are truly safe in an outsider’s hands.
Q: How do we ensure company data is secure?
Enterprise and workgroup installations: Firewalls and similar tools used for any enterprise software in the company will ensure the safety of your product data too. Built-in access controls in the PDM software secure your CAD models even further, restricting who can see and modify data on a file-by-file basis.
Cloud installation: When you use software as a service (SaaS), IT wants to know that everything you send over the Internet is properly encrypted. They’ll also want to know how and where the vendor keeps your files, the security of the data center, and what happens when you cancel your subscription. Where does all your intellectual property go?
Any company offering cloud-based PDM knows these are major concerns and should be able to address them. GrabCAD offers this white paper, but also encourages your IT team to call with other questions.
Q: Who deploys this software?
Enterprise installation. If you hope to start with an enterprise deployment, you can expect to spend a lot of time determining users, groups, roles. These help you set those access controls as well as configure user interfaces. You’ll probably also establish workflows and business rules at this point.
You’ll need to evaluate your hardware, too. Do you have the capacity for the new software components, including databases, servers, backup systems?
It can be a huge job, and your IT department is smart to start asking about it early on. Traditionally, you would work with your PDM software vendor’s partner or a technical consultant to prepare. The vendor/expert would likely train dedicated IT staff as well as users before rolling out the software. It sounds overwhelming and expensive, but for large enterprises, the rewards are worth it.
Workgroup installation. With a workgroup installation, you may not need consultants and technical experts, especially if roles, rules, and workflows are preconfigured. But you may still need to install components like databases/vaults, database servers, clients, web servers, license servers, and archive or file servers. IT can really help with that; expect to include them in your plan, even if you’re just deploying a few seats.
Note that many companies that start with a workgroup-level deployment later expand into other departments and geographies until they’ve essentially created an enterprise system. For a company (or IT department) that clearly needs PDM, but shies away from big projects, the workgroup installation acts as a proving ground.
Cloud. Cloud installations are the easiest of all PDM systems. The deployment often involves simply downloading an app on whatever device you plan to perform your CAD work on. Usually, you won’t need IT involvement at all. That said, on rare occasions you might run into issues with odd, locked down proxy servers. In that case, you may need help from your IT team—another reason it helps to have IT buy in.
Does this answer all the IT group’s questions? Not even close. But it might convince them that you’ve thought things through enough for them to stay with the conversation. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll get ready to answer more detailed questions about upgrades, scaling, licensing, and availability.
This eBook explains how you, the CAD-using engineer who’s had quite enough of naming conventions and Dropbox, can bring together the elements needed to support an investment decision in a modern, industrial-strength product data management solution.