Advice for CAD developers
SCOTTSDALE, AZ Today's video games have nearly infinite possibilities, incredible graphics, and lightning-fast reaction time.
"But there is no 'Nintendo for Dummies' book on the market, because they're completely intuitive. There's no need. That's good design," said Dick Morley in a keynote speech on April 27 at the COFES conference (Congress on the Future of Engineering Software) in Scottsdale, AZ.
As a successful venture capitalist and an engineer with more than 20 patents to his name (including the programmable logic controller and magnetic thin film), he shared hard-won lessons from his various pursuits, and said that many could be applied to developing a better CAD/CAM/CAE product.
Keep it simple. "If your business plan is over 20 pages, it won't get read," Morley says. "I get a new one in the mail every day! What's the bumpersticker?"
Don't be afraid to take risks. "We're not interested in government bonds; we're looking for high risk/high return. In fact, we don't invest unless you think you'll fail 80% of the time."
Planning is everything. "What happens in the next quarter was determined by decisions you made five years ago."
The advice continued in the second keynote, by author and Design Insight President Peter Marks, who instructed software developers to "Rock and Roll."
In Marks' parlance, that refers to the business metric of Return on Knowledge (ROK) and Return on Learning (ROL), as opposed to the more standard measures, Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Investment (ROI).
He recognized that knowledge management demands an optimistic outlook. "When you approach a huge mess, an entire barn full of manure, straw, and dirty stalls, you have to be the one who says 'There's a pony in there someplace' and isn't afraid to go digging for the good idea."
An even tougher challenge is measuring your success in this arena. He suggested a concept called "knowledge turns." It's similar to the common measure of Inventory Turns, an economic measure of part turnover, efficient management, and market demand. But one Knowledge Turn happens when an engineer has identified a challenge and contributed a product to solve it; it's a rough measure of time to market for ideas, not just products.
Also at the show, SDRC (Cincinnati, OH) showcased its new, Windows 2000- and NT-compatible user interface for I-DEAS®. Features include: customizable icon layouts and pull-down menus. Check it out for yourself at www.sdrc.com/ideas/ windows-ui.shtml.
SDRC is also busy integrating its current products with recent acquisitions like Slate and Inovie® Software, and extending a partnership with Microsoft through the Visio application. One goal is to achieve a smooth integration between Slate and Visio, "to keep the architect ahead of the construction crews," said Product Manager Mark Sampson. This would allow engineers to bring the customer into the development process, to anticipate product changes, and ultimately to create products that are "compliant by design."
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