Project management tool meshes with CAD software

  • 10-Oct-2008 10:00 EDT
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­Clarizen’s project management tools let engineers check program status without leaving their SolidWorks environment.­
A­­ startup in the project management software field hopes to gain a foothold in the automotive and aerospace industries by making it simpler to handle remote programs. Clarizen is offering Web-based tools that help companies link remote offices or communicate with contract suppliers.

Clari­zen recently completed an integration capability with Dassault Systèmes mechanical CAD software, SolidWorks. The software lets engineers and managers monitor project plans and timetables using the same tools used for engineering activities.

Clarizen’s CAD integration tool lets design engineers easily create new project tasks and update the status of tasks. They can also view task due dates or attach CAD drawings to project tasks for collaboration with team members, all without exiting their CAD environment.

Managing far-flung collaborative projects is becoming more important as outsourcing and offshoring gain acceptance for design as well as manufacturing. Clarizen, founded in 2006, offers a Web-based plug-in that lets managers assign tasks and monitor their progress without storing data on local PCs.

Users don’t have to worry about security since none of the design data is stored on the website. Only management-related data is there, and it can be protected with a range of conventional tools, said Avinoam Nowogrodski, CEO of Clarizen.

“To handle projects in multiple locations successfully, people need tools built specifically for project management. Most companies are not using existing product management tools efficiently,” Nowogrodski said.

In both the automotive and aerospace markets, OEMs are increasingly working with global suppliers. “One of the things we contribute is that our tools let companies work better with their suppliers,” he added.

Many companies now use tools like Microsoft’s Excel or Project programs to assign tasks and monitor their progress. Although many PLM tools are being used, they lack project management capabilities.

“Existing tools don’t work because tools are designed for individuals, not teams,” Nowogrodski said. “Teamwork is critical for success. We’ve found a way to bring the teams aboard, not leaving project management to the program managers.”

Engineers and managers can see all their tasks and their status, as well as a calendar so they can see what needs to be done. These updates can be seen without leaving design environments.

“People like to be able to see that they’ve done, say, 60% of a job,” Nowogrodski said. “Since the program is on the Web, you can be instantly updated even if you’re working with someone in China.”

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