User Groups – You know what they are, right?

Posted on February 16th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I guess it’s just a day to rant.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, specifically just outside of Seattle, and I have to say that the SolidWorks community around her is pretty pathetic. I would guess there to be, easily, 2000+ users in the area and the turnout at the local SASPUG (Seattle Area Power User Group) meetings isn’t just below low, it’s virtually non-existent. I hear all the time about user group meetings that have 50-75+ attendees. Why are things not so good here, and perhaps where you are? I believe that the blame can be placed into three areas:

1) Employers who are lackadaisical  about encouraging employees to attend user group  meetings.
2) Users, themselves, who figure they can’t learn anything by going.
3) Local VAR support of said user group is weak.

Let’s start with employers, shall we? Why would you purchase thousands of dollars worth of software then turn your users loose on it without encouraging your users to learn it inside and out? Yes, some employers pony up the cash to send their employees to training at their VAR but we all know that only scratches the surface. It’s at the user group meetings that you learn tips & tricks, new ways of creating the wheel and, in some cases, your users can find out that they actually can do that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smacked my forehead after finding out some little tidbit of information. C’mon, Mr. Executive! Users who know the ins and outs of the software are only going to help increase profits! Sheesh.  Hey, here’s  an idea for you, if you have  a fair amount of users, start your own internal group! I bet Richard would be happy to help you get started. 

Users…"I know enough to get by." "If I don’t know it, I’m sure someone around here does." "I just don’t have time." "User group? What’s a user group?"
Ever hear these comments? I have. I have to tell ya, for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to go to SolidWorks World (yet another rant in that statement), your user groups can go a long way towards expanding your knowledge. Wouldn’t it make more sense to ‘learn’ something at a meeting and be able to use it in the future than to have to go around the company trying to find someone who knows how to add fins to your flux-capacitor? If you don’t know what a user group is…ugh. Where the hell have you been?

VARS – This one should be a no brainer. VAR stands for ‘Value-added Reseller’. The "value" part certainly doesn’t come from only selling SolidWorks, it comes from supporting it. To not support your local user group is flat out doing a disservice to the very people you’re supposed to be servicing.

If you don’t know if there’s a user group in your area, click here to find out. Participate, whether it’s as a member of the audience or as a presenter. Believe me, if you know what you’re talking about, the organizer of your local group will be more than happy to have your help!! 

Ok, I’m done ranting for today. Not sure what got into me, but I’m feeling better. Thanks for reading.

Behind the Times

Posted on February 16th, 2008. Posted In SolidWorks Community

I’ve been more than lax lately in posting, I’ve been downright lazy. I’d love to say that I’ve been too busy, but I’d be lying. I’ve just had writer’s block, I suppose. I am, however, going to try to be more diligent. Only time will tell. To that end, I want to talk about the meaning behind the title of this post.
I know of companies that, though they are on subscription, are "behind the times" in releases. I know of one company that is still using ’06 even though they’re probably paying $50,000+/year in subscription fees. The question I have is "why?". Why would this happen? This particular company is a large manufacturer and could benefit greatly from ’08. Why would they allow themselves to get behind the times? In this instance, it’s their IT department. When SolidWorks installs are managed by IT departments that don’t "get it", they end up hindering engineering. While I do understand the need for software management, software should be managed by people who understand and, God forbid, use the software. The whole reason for alpha and beta testing of the newest versions is to give the people in charge of the installs the ability to…wait for it…TEST the software prior to implementing it company wide.
SolidWorks usually releases new versions around August, with SP1.0 coming 6-8 weeks later. One would think that by December or January, a company could have all its "testing" done and implement the newest version. When an IT department is so "all-powerful", as is the case here, they end up costing the company money. I’ve heard that they’re talking about going from ’06 directly to ’08. How much time do you suppose is going to be lost while all the users try to figure out the new interface? I say "figure out", because training doesn’t come into play there. That could probably be another post…
My point is this, manage your installs wisely. You pay x-dollars/seat of SolidWorks for support and upgrades. By not upgrading, you’re throwing money out the window. That money should be benefiting the company by improving the tools when improvements are available. Granted, "improvements" may be a subjective term here, but you get my point. When an IT department is given carte-blanche over a SolidWorks install, many of them will, well, screw it up.
Ok, I’m starting to ramble here and, before I really start to rant (ala Matt), I’m going to end this post. I would, however, love to hear your thoughts on companies that fall "behind the times".

Page 1 of 11