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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to Evaluate Software Tools to Use in Your Business' Product Design

 

Computer aided design, or CAD, has become an essential thing in product design in the past couple of decades, and to be able to make your ideas a reality as an inventor you will definitely need CAD on your side, whether it is to help with the highly technical side of things like printed circuit board design (PCB) for electronics, or even just packaging design.

With designing and building products of any sort, however, you need to choose the right computer software for your team to use. Evaluating tools and selecting them for incorporation into your own business' way of working is a big choice, and so it is important that you know how to compare different products to your needs before investing in a given brand.

Here are some things you need to know when evaluating software:

Start Early

In most fields of software – including PCB and other product design – there are a number of products on the market and while some people may swear by one, others may be devoted to another. You are going to have to work your way through this to establish which software package is worth your time and money.

You may need to train people to use the PCB software, or limit yourself to only hiring people with the software you have chosen as their discipline. This means you can't make the decision lightly after toying around with a few packages for an hour or two. You need to establish there is a need and start evaluating the options on the market a decent while before you actually need your team to start working with them.

Bring Experts into Meetings with Software Sales Experts

All software sales people believe in their companies and believe their product offers a good solution. Indeed, all software products that have made a name for themselves do offer good solutions – they just may not be exactly what you need. While it may seem like a strictly business decision which company to go with when evaluating software service providers, it isn't all about the bottom line and the people who will be working with the product may have a better idea than the business owner when it comes to what it has to be able to do.

Whether your experts are in house people or external contractors, make sure you don't entertain important software sales conversations without them!

Know Your Requirements Well

One other thing you'll need to do to evaluate CAD software or any other software key to your products is to know exactly what you need it to do. You may assume all packages do similar things, but they don't – and if you find you are missing something you really needed in the tools you opted to pay for, this can cripple your business. Always set out clear requirements and compare these to product specs before evaluating products.

By evaluating products well, you can be sure you only buy things that will serve your own specific design process needs perfectly.

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