In the past, almost every large manufacturing enterprise had an in-house computer-aided design (CAD) department to develop custom software that met their unique needs. Later, the independent software vendors (ISVs) appeared with specialized solutions, followed by enterprise software providers with high-end commercial offerings.
Whether developed internally or purchased off-the-shelf, engineering software needs to constantly innovate in order to meet the unique requirements of the enterprise. Increasingly, partnering is the best way to deliver this innovation.
By working with software component providers and expert software development teams, companies of all sizes can take advantage of the latest technologies, keep their applications current, and deliver the innovative engineering software solutions that end users require.
Software Components + Expert Software Development Consulting
Technology has advanced at a rapid pace in the last 15 years, and the engineering software world is no exception. For instance, it used to be that if you were writing a graphics application and you knew some OpenGL, you’d be all set. Today, there are literally dozens of different technologies to choose from—and companies are finding it next to impossible to keep up with the complexity.
Expertise in these areas is expensive and time-consuming to acquire. On top of that, the specific expertise is usually tangential to the main business and core competency of the company. That’s why partnering with a provider of software components makes so much sense.
Components provide basic building blocks of functionality that have been developed by domain experts with core expertise in that particular area. One of the main fears companies have with custom development is that the final product might be full of bugs. The component approach prevents a lot of bugs from happening in the first place because the components have been tried and tested a multitude of times in a multitude of applications. Simply put, the foundation that components provide is very solid.
While components provide the starting point, these building blocks need to be assembled, customized, and integrated into a production-ready application. That’s where a team of qualified developers that are familiar with the component technologies comes into play.
These external development teams have extensive industry expertise, they know the components inside and out, and they know how to combine the components into a final product for the customer. If components help remove much of the risk around adopting or incorporating a new technology, seasoned professionals with years of experience and specialized skills help remove much of the remaining risk.
Another point of concern for custom developed software is a post-production maintenance. Enterprise customers don’t want to get stuck with a solution that nobody can support. Not all development consultants are in the position to provide such support. When looking for a development partner, it is important to look for one that offers long-term support service in addition to development services.
Partnering for Results
It’s not hard to identify areas where partnering can deliver real benefits to engineering software; take user experience as an example. Within the manufacturing sector, a new generation of employees is entering the workplace with high expectations of what software solutions should deliver and how easy it should be to use them. The right component can take an application that offers a poor experience and improve it substantially – making it possible to navigate complex data by simply viewing and manipulating an object on a screen, for instance.
Additionally, organizations can use component technology to better facilitate the free movement of data between systems, applications and devices. The diversity of software applications on the manufacturing floor is enormous, and users want all the pieces to talk with each other and data to flow freely. A properly constructed and integrated application ensures that this can occur.
Organizations also want their software delivered fast; a project that takes three years to develop and implement may miss the market, because of the rapidly changing market conditions. By partnering with component providers and expert development teams, companies gain trusted advisors that can help them accelerate the development process while selecting the best available technology to address their end users’ concerns.
A Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software company, Aras Corporation, tapped AMC Bridge to help develop a modern visualization tool for its product. The AMC Bridge team, in turn, relied on components from Tech Soft 3D to develop this new piece.
This partnering approach did more than save Aras time and money. It allowed them to focus on their core competency of product lifecycle management, while letting outside experts handle the areas where they had limited expertise and bandwidth with internal resources.
Crucially, it’s not only companies like Aras that can benefit from this approach when developing an innovative piece of engineering software. For many small companies—in particular, startups—partnering with a component provider and experienced development team isn’t just a faster way to get their product to market: it’s the only way to make it possible. Without these resources, there’s simply no other viable way to build their solution.
Unlocking the Innovation
The pace of technological change can be overwhelming. At the same time, technology has never been more accessible, even to small businesses and start-ups. Partnering can help companies of all sizes address a host of technological challenges for which they don’t have the time, budget, experience or resources to tackle in-house.
By taking advantage of industry-leading software components and expert implementation resources, companies can avoid being constrained by a perceived lack of resources or hampered by a fear of trying a new technology—allowing them to let innovation drive the development of their engineering software.