A big question is, why do you need data management (DM)? It really can be summed up in two words: TIME and MONEY. It’s really a simple reasoning.
While a fast computer works great in between saves, it can’t help a slow network. Think of it like this: Driving from point A to point B can be done via a highway in a straight line (scenario A) OR done via a side road with a lower speed limit and some yield signs (scenario B.) Saving local is scenario A. Saving on a network is scenario B. It just takes longer to save onto a network, even with a fast network the speed limit is higher but you still have more checkpoints to cross to get there.
The next objection might be, how do I back my data up or how do multiple engineers work on the design? This is where a data management system brings this and the above scenario together. Data is stored on a secure, backed up server. When any of of engineers needs to work on a project, he or she checks out this data to a local drive. A user owns this data while he/she works on it, saves are local, and only when he/she is done, one check in back into the data management system. While the data is checked out, everyone can see who “owns” the data. Which leads me to the next point about why you need a DM system…money.
Have you accidentally overwrote a file or had someone else over-write your files? Have you “lost” your files due to poor organization in Windows folders or lost work due to data stored on a local machine due to a hardware failure? Even a minor mistake adds up quickly. Lost time, rework, ordered something incorrectly all add up. This alone costs more than getting a PDM system into your facility. Another way to see the time aspect is that you lose time if you work over a network. Every save you make takes a bit more time that adds up week after week. You depend on the guys down the hall not to stream music to ensure you network connectivity stays consistent. It all adds up to money lost for simply waiting.
SolidWorks Premium and Professional comes with WorkGroup, a fairly bare bones DM system that even includes room for a single workflow for multi-level approvals. It’s meant for single location implementations. Many people don’t even realize they have WorkGroup to use. The next step up in DM is Enterprise PDM. It offers multi-site replication, and looks just like Windows explorer. Not too long ago, the cost of entry into this was fairly substantial costing more than a seat of premium SolidWorks – but not anymore. FISHER/UNITECH offers a quick start implementation that brings this into a much more affordable and obvious option over WorkGroup. I liken it to this: having a $10,000 car with a few options or spending $12,000 and getting a super sports car. It’s such a small difference in money that it just makes sense to go with the better option.