Cover CAD Data Management SMBCAD Data Management (survey results)


CAD Data Management for Small Companies and Design TeamsHow can smaller companies and design teams manage CAD data without taking away from their time to innovate and respond to customers? Smaller companies and design teams compete based on innovation and agility but face many of the same challenges in managing 3D CAD files that their larger competitors do. CAD Data Management for Small Companies and Design Teams is designed to help companies with five and fewer designers address CAD Data Management complexity.

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Table of Contents*

  • CAD Data Management ComponentsAddressing CAD Data Management Complexity
  • Managing CAD is Challenging Regardless of Size
  • CAD Management Difficulties Hamper Productivity
  • The Persistent Struggle with Broken CAD Assemblies
  • Smaller Companies Lack the Tools to Manage CAD
  • Missed Targets are Common, but not Inevitable
  • Managing CAD Helps Even the Smallest Companies
  • Automating CAD Processes Improves Performance
  • CAD Management Benefits and Research Conclusions
  • About the Research
  • Acknowledgments

Managing CAD is Challenging Regardless of Size

CAD Management Challenges

Managing CAD data is challenging. Respondents for this survey indicate that they suffer from typical data management challenges. They report issues with CAD data management basics – controlling, accessing, and sharing design data.

The most commonly reported difficulty is searching for information. Far too often, technical resources struggle to find the CAD files they need to do their job. Respondents also face multiple challenges related to managing CAD files, including file conflicts, uncontrolled revisions, file duplication, and data loss. Many companies also report trouble collaborating because of difficulty sharing designs with others.

CAD Management Challenges

Smaller Companies Suffer as Well

The top CAD management challenges are relatively consistent across engineering teams including those as small as five or fewer engineers. The analysis only uncovered a couple of minor differences between the “five or fewer” respondents and those with twenty or more engineers. Smaller teams are:

  • 28% more likely to work on the wrong revisions. This is likely because they have less formal processes and tools.
  • 40% less likely to have issues with duplicate data. This may be due to the simplicity of their organization and less reuse of designs across regional and organizational boundaries.

CAD Management Difficulties Hamper Productivity

Challenges Cause Business Impacts

Data management challenges are certainly frustrating to engineers. In some ways, though, they are so common that many simply consider them the cost of working with 3D CAD. But the impact is more than just an individual nuisance.

NVA SMB CAD Data ManagementLow Productivity is the Status Quo

The clear business impact of CAD management challenges is wasted engineering time and effort. This time is spent searching for data and fixing problems. Over three-quarters, (79%) of small companies indicate they struggle with this.

CAD Management Benefits and Research Conclusions

Benefits of CAD Data Management

CAD data management solutions provide the ability to control, access, and share CAD data. Extended PDM can go beyond this and offers greater value to include more communication / collaboration, enriched / extended product data, process automation, and a project / program focus. PLM offers even broader benefits.

Those with Five or Fewer Engineers Report Important Benefits

CAD Data Management Conclusion

Companies with five or fewer engineers leverage a variety of design data management solutions ranging from core CAD management to PLM. Responses to an open ended question on benefits show that they primarily perceive the value of the basics – keeping data under control, making it easy to find, and being able to share it with others. The results reported include improved design efficiency and throughput.


Survey analysis leads us to conclude that design data management solutions including PDM, PLM, or more focused CAD / Engineering Data Management solutions help even the smallest companies hit their product development targets.


Based on our experience and the results of this research, we recommend that:

  • Smaller companies looking to improve product development performance should implement a design data management solution
  • These companies should look for a solution with automation for basic processes like revision control and check in / check out
  • Companies should start small, but make sure to leave themselves room to grow in the future by extending their CAD Data Management solution

*This summary is an abbreviated version of the research and does not contain the full content. A link to download the full report is available above.

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