SOLIDWORKS Manage is a data management software solution for product development and lifecycle management. It is built to manage product development collateral and design data that companies need to collect, link together, and control to bring their products to market faster and efficiently. SOLIDWORKS Manage enables users to collect and centrally control designs and manufacturing data distributed throughout Windows directories, share drives, and disparate software solutions. On a single platform, SOLIDWORKS Manage makes coordinating and collaborating on various activities within the product development process effortless.
Product Data Management (PDM) is an engineering document control software that manages native 2D and 3D CAD files. PDM software provides a database-driven environment to manage design data that enables engineering and design teams to work collaboratively on the same dataset and maximize their efficiency. PDM alleviates the overhead of non-value-add time loss associated with reference management and revision control of CAD data when saving CAD files either within Windows directories or non-PDM document management software that is not capable of understanding CAD file relationships. PDM immediately returns valuable time normally lost by managing data manually allowing your engineering and design teams to be more efficient and maintain focus on the job at hand. Without PDM, teams can spend hours of their day ‘fixing’ broken CAD models and tracking down lost references before they can begin working.
The document management capabilities of SOLIDWORKS Manage provide a quality management system (QMS) level of capability to the job of version and revision control for all file types. A typical product development process generates large quantities of file data that must be tracked, controlled, linked, and 'lifecycled'. This covers an entire organization’s file management needs well beyond just managing MCAD design data from SOLIDWORKS. Document records can now be centrally controlled and lifecycle managed within a single system that has a place for product documentation to be collected, controlled, and linked together within a secured environment and managed centrally by a relational database.
When it comes to records management, SOLIDWORKS understands that not everything is a CAD model or a spreadsheet. Item Master records management allows the creation and tracking of non-file-based records called Items. Item management allows for the representation of all of the related data for a record to be collected and referenced under a single database item. An item can manage multiple file attachments and relationships without being a file itself; items have attributes, can have BOMs and be used in BOMs, and have relationships and links to the rest of the product data records. Engineering and operations departments use item masters in BOMS and link them as needed throughout the product data record. Item Master management capability allows for the tracking of data from quality and engineering departments that are typically buried in spreadsheets and not connected effectively to the product data record.
Bill of Materials management is a robust toolset that can integrate CAD as well as non-file based item master records to allow your engineering BOMs to break free of Excel and unlock the full potential of a database-driven item-centric BOM record. Workflow options exist within SOLIDWORKS Manage for both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ BOM management that works equally well for companies that prefer to build a BOM structure first and then work backward into the supporting design and specification data later and for companies that prefer CAD-driven BOM management where deep integration is necessary between the MCAD BOM from SOLIDWORKS and the engineering BOM record managed by operations. BOM comparison, kit BOMs, multi-site, and BOM variant configuration management capabilities are but a few of the array of features that come standard with SOLIDWORKS Manage BOM features.
Process Management covers a wide range of workflow, approval, and procedural decision-making capabilities that help manage every facet of the product development process. Process records may be configured to handle any business process application including engineering and document change management, problem reporting, ticket tracking, corrective and preventative action reports, non-conforming material reporting, training records management, and new product development. Building tailored workflow routes becomes as easy as drawing a Visio-style flow diagram (no programming required). Create process controls that can be used and applied to product data records themselves… the item masters, BOMs, and documents managed throughout the system.
Assign and track task completion across the platform. Task records have creators, owners, and assignees and can either ‘float’ ad-hoc or are directly linked to product deliverables. Because they are sewn throughout the environment, they may be linked to all types of product data records (CAD data, files, Item masters, BOMs, process workflow stages, and project phases). Tasks have dedicated dashboards with calendars, timelines, and review capability. Provide your entire product development team with an easy and compelling method to create accountability and allow for anything from simple ad-hoc time management or used in concert with project management for calculated time roll-ups associated with phase and milestone completion goals. Tasks can be tied to workflow stage completion as gate-management conditions required to proceed to the next stage of the process. Tasks eliminate the need for project managers to poll users to determine where they are within a job. Instead, users can directly report completion and status updates within task-based SCRUM project sprints.
Integrated product portfolio management (PPM) for every facet of the product development process. SOLIDWORKS Manage is equipped wit powerful project and time management tools that are tied to projects and product deliverables. Stop using disconnected project management tools that ‘pretend’ to deliver results but are not tied to the deliverables that they purportedly ‘manage’. With integrated task management, timesheets, Gantt-charts, phases, milestones, critical path analysis, and data analytics tools SOLIDWORKS Manage keeps engineering projects and new product development efforts ahead of schedule and shortens the ‘time-to-market’ curve.
SOLIDWORKS Manage comes standard with a whole suite of data analytics tools built-in and easily configured. There are no programming or system integrations required nor dependence on third-party business intelligence tools. The suite of analytical capabilities breaks down into two main functional areas to cover both dashboarding and reporting requirements. Dashboarding includes both standard ‘built-in’ dashboards as well as fully configurable/customizable dashboards for charts, graphs, tables, dials, widgets, and gauges. Dashboards present users with live data from SOLIDWORKS Manage and PDM and can also confederate data from external systems and be used as a full BI platform. With SOLIDWORKS Manage, you can stop struggling with Excel and racing to keep your data up to date and accurate. Reporting will tie you directly to your source data and make preparing reports an easy, repeatable, and automated process. Reports can be published on-demand or executed automatically by a workflow process stage.
Both PDM and Manage use the same licensing tiers: Editor, Contributors, and Viewers. Editors are for CAD editors, Contributors are for non-CAD editors, and Viewers are for read-only records access. All license types are concurrent-use ‘floating’ networked global licenses.
To begin with Manage comes out-of-the-box integrated to SOLIDWORKS PDM for full system access bi-directional access. The level of sophistication of this integration between Manage and PDM is orders of magnitude deeper than could be done with third party PDMs. Manage has total situational awareness and control over PDM. Integrations between Manage and third-party systems such as ERPs may be done with a variety of techniques. Manage comes with powerful built-in data transformation and extraction tools for point to point data pushes and as well as an open SQL database for middleware based extractions and transformation.
All right we know the question you came here for: is it, or isn’t it…? That is the question that everyone wants answered. In the end though, the definition of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) depends on your background, the industry sector involved and a whole host of factors that may tip the answer one way or another. Is it enough for example to manage products and lifecycles? What is safe to say is that SOLIDWORKS Manage (SWM), in many cases, has the same set of features and capabilities that many software suites that do call themselves PLM software have… in many cases SWM has more capability than comes standard, with many other commercial PLM systems (does that mean it’s more than a PLM?). Many software packages can for example manage Bill of Materials and Change Control of the product BOM and its associated item masters… and that is true of SWM as well. Even if you didn’t use SOLIDWORKS CAD or PDM, SWM would be a great standalone BOM management tool. The real magic with SWM happens for companies that want both great BOM and change management for the whole organization, and well as a deeply integrated solution between the MCAD BOM produced by Engineering and the full Engineering BOM as classically managed by a PLM system. With 3rd-party BOM management solutions combined with 3rd-party CAD and PDM solutions, companies are never able to realize this goal of end-to-end BOM management. Even for companies willing to spend large sums of money to ‘integrate’ their MCAD PDMs and PLMs using APIs and ‘rube-goldberg-ian’ middleware solutions… they’ll never be as seamless as SWM and PDM are at working together (as designed). SWM means one BOM, one system, and one solution. See there… we got to the end of this paragraph on PLM and still haven’t answered the question… except to say that PLM like anything else, is in the eye of the beholder.
Approved Manufacturer List (AML) also often referred to as Approved Vendor List (AVL) is a combination of application features involving records and process management for tracking and approving both companies (such as Suppliers, Vendors, Manufacturers and the like) along with the part numbers and items sourced (either supplied or manufactured) from those companies. Use Manage to identify what companies are approved for use, and whether they have been vetted and put through a review process by your quality team. Make sure vendors and suppliers are periodically audited to ensure that they are maintaining compliance with your standards. Internally make sure that BOMs are only able to use approved part numbers (components etc.) from approved sources.
Your company’s Quality Management System (QMS) requirements for product development and defect tracking and reporting can now be performed within the same system that is managing all of the actual deliverables produced by the Engineering, and Operations teams. With standalone QMS software, and standalone PLMs and PDMs, many companies find themselves in situations where for example Engineering makes a change to a product, but Quality is never notified to review and update the necessary process and procedural and training documentation. Similarly, Quality departments with standalone QMS systems might identify a problem, develop a corrective action, but the handoff breaks down when transferring that change request to the Engineering department because everyone is using a different system to track their own set of product data. Manage provides records management capability for all of Quality’s document and records tracking needs, Process management capabilities for any/all quality-centric process requirements (e.g. CAPAs, CARs, SCARs, NCMRs, Training records, etc.) and Data Analytics tools to spot trends and identify the failure frequencies. With Manage you can finally have everyone across departments working on the same page, working towards the same goal, with the same set of information.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a series of activities that can involve managing companies and contacts, ticket tracking, return merchandise authorizations (RMA), asset management and the like. Now let’s be real… SOLIDWORKS Manage (SWM) is not at the level of a dedicated CRM like Salesforce etc., but it has a good, solid set of CRM tools that companies both with and without dedicated CRMs can gain immediate benefit from using. Even for companies that use dedicated CRMs, SWM can be used in parallel to integrate with the corporate CRMs and maybe initiate parallel or sympathetic records management in concert with the primary CRM. Take an RMA process for example: an RMA in a standalone CRM is not going to be able, in most cases, to also initiate an Engineering Change Request (ECR) based on that RMA nor follow through that ECR with an ECO to actually bake the changes back into the product and MFG records… an RMA process run in SWM can do those things.
Managing a Product development process from start to finish is possible with SOLIDWORKS Manage (SWM). These days we have all heard the term ‘shorten the curve’… it’s a concept that’s as important to product development efforts as it with communicable disease transmission. With product development, the faster and more accurately a product is developed from early ideation, to full production release, means the more likely the product is to be successful and beat its competition to market. Shorter development curves mean a longer effective lifespan post-production, and more and earlier profit realization for the bottom line. Often times slow means fast, and fast means slow however… a fast product development effort without sufficient controls with checks and balances means errors, and delay in the end. Whereas as with a controlled and measured process, this effort can have everyone working together to dot all the I’s and cross all the t’s, and the curve is shortened, and the product has a better chance for success. Engineering-centric companies often use the terms New Product Development (NPD) and New Product Introduction (NPI) interchangeably to describe a stage-gated product development process… whereas as Quality-centric companies often use what they call an Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) processes to also manage many of the same types of records and processes involved with NPD and NPI efforts. Both approaches to product development can be deployed using SWM to accomplish product development processes with any of these types of processes. With SWM, its records and document management tools can be used for controlling the lifecycle and revisions of the actual product records themselves. Then combine that with a suite of process management tools to run a stage-gate workflow process for stepping the entire product record from gate to gate to gate, and finally the Tasks and Project management tools will keep everyone focused and make sure that delivery timelines and goals are met.
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