Managing Your PDM with SOLIDWORKS Manage
SOLIDWORKS describes SOLIDWORKS Manage as “an advanced, record-based data management system that extends the global file management and application integrations enabled by SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional to include a comprehensive set of capabilities that you can use and distribute to many areas of your business.”
Manage offers companies a Project Management solution that can be easier to implement and that is less costly then a full-blown product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. SOLIDWORKS Manage can provide companies that have grown to the point where they need to manage projects beyond what a product data management (PDM) solution, such as SOLIDWORKS PDM, can offer.
Manage ships with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional and can be integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM Vaults. Manage is not a subset of SOLIDWORKS PDM, but instead, SOLIDWORKS PDM is one aspect that can be incorporated into Manage.
In this article we will look at the options that are part of SOLIDWORKS Manage, in particular the Administration Options.
Before we get started, it is important to understand that Manage is a large, highly configurable program. Attempting to configure this product without a good understanding of Manage may not yield a useable solution. I would encourage you to recruit the services of a partner, such as your SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller, to assist you in the deployment of this product.
Since SOLDWORKS PDM can be integrated into Manage, the first step is to install SOLDWORKS PDM Professional. Part of installation for PDM is the installation of Microsoft SQL. Manage will use the same SQL instance as PDM.
Manage takes advantage of Windows Internet Information Services and, therefore, this must first be configured.
Installation of Manage is a two-part process. First the server is installed, followed by the clients. The installation files for Manage are included in the SOLDWORKS installation file-set. The same file-set that includes SOLIDWORKS and SOLDWORKS PDM.
After launching the installer for SOLDWORKS Manage, the server components to be installed are selected. Typically, this would be the File Server and the Web Server.
After defining the installation directory, the SQL log-in information is entered. As mentioned earlier, the SOLDWORKS Manage Server component will use the same SQL instance that is used for SOLDWORKS PDM and, therefore, uses the same SQL login.
Once the Manage Server has been installed, a new database will be added to the same SQL instance as SOLIDWORKS PDM. Since Manage will be pulling information from PDM, it is important that both use the same SQL instance.
After the Manage Server has been installed, the next step is to install the Client. The Client installation is straight forward and only requires defining the installation directory, as well as whether or not the SOLIDWORKS add-in will be installed.
Once all components are installed, Manage can be launched. In the Launch screen, a user enters their log-in information. Optionally a user can designate which PDM vault to attach to and the license type to be used.
Unlike SOLDWORKS PDM, there is no separate area that users and administrators access. The areas that are accessible to any given user will depend on the roles they are assigned.
Under the Tools tab, the user (My Options) and Administration options can be set. As My Options implies, the user options are for the currently logged-in user and include options for controlling parts of the interface, as well as where files will be cached locally.
The Administration Options are where the structure of SOLDWORKS Manage is defined and are the main focus of this article.
The System Administration panel consists of two parts. The lower part consists of the Main Areas, while the upper part lists the Sections for each Area
The Users Area contains settings for Users, Groups, Access and Installations.
Users and Groups can be created in Manage, but they can also be imported from PDM. Double-clicking a User or Group allows aspects of the User or Group to be defined.
The Access Section controls User and Group access to the Manage Modules.
The Installations Section displays when the users last logged in and can be useful in tracking activity with Manage.
The next Area is the Advanced Area and is where an Administrator defines global settings for Manage.
The Audit Trail Section allows an administrator to view Activity within Manage. For instance, an administrator can Monitor Failed Login attempts and view Notifications.
In the Updates Section, the administrator can update SQL as well rebuild the SQL Indexes. Rebuilding Indexes can increase performance and can be scheduled through SQL Management Studio.
Additional database connections can be added from the Data Sources Section to pull information in “real time” from other database sources.
The General Section contains options for entering Company Details and other General settings such as:
- The default local cache
- Interaction with SOLDIWORKS
- Enabling Replication and defining Replication settings
- Configuration of the General BOM (Bill of Materials)
Also, in the Advanced Area are Sections where:
- Import Export rules can be defined
- Notification Template and Numbering Schemes can be created.
- Global Variables can be created and are used to supply values for common calculations. For example, currency conversion.
Structures is likely the Area where most time will spent in deploying Manage. In this Area, the Manage Modules are configured and Access and Permissions are defined for the Modules.
Documents and Records Objects are created in Documents and Records Section.
Objects are key to the Manage architecture and are used throughout SOLIDWORKS Manage. An Object is a configurable entity that acts as building blocks for various Manage Areas
In the case of Document and Records, Objects can be created for physical Documents as well as for Records
Documents are records with a primary file, for example a Word document. Records do not have a primary file but can reference other documents and records. An example of this would be an record that represents a part number which can reference other documents that define it.
If the Object Type is a PDM Object, the Object can be related to any PDM Vault that is in the same SQL instance.
Objects properties that can be configured include Fields, Access, BOMs Lifecycle and Reports.
Processes are used to change the Lifecycle Status of a record, for example setting the Status to Released.
The Process Management Wizard provides step-by-step guidance in creating Process Templates.
The pull-down at the bottom-right, provides easy access to different areas of the Wizard. The Wizard consists of multiples sections such as Reports and Access Rights.
The Workflow Designer is where the Process Workflow is developed. The Workflow Designer provides a graphic representation of Workflow that makes it easy to define Stages and how items progress through the Workflow.
Users Notifications, Outputs, as well as other Conditions, are defined in Workflow Properties. Carefully defining the Workflow Properties, ensures that items will only progress to the next Stage, when all Conditions are met. Workflow Properties can also ensure that the required permissions are given to the correct Users.
Two Objects Types can be created in Projects and Cases. These are Projects and Cases. Projects are similar to Records but include project management tools. Cases are a special type of process and are usually used to make a decision then to automatically create a project or process when completed.
As with Processes, Projects and Cases uses a Wizard to assist creation of these Objects.
Reports are used throughout Manage, including other Structures. There are two different types of Reports, Individual and Consolidated. Individual Reports are created at the Object level and are used with individual Records. Consolidated Reports are created in the Reports Module and can report on anything within or external to Manage.
The actual generation of Reports is done from the main UI. Either from the Reports module for Consolidated reports or from the record itself for Individual reports. The Administration Options is used to define the report objects.
Dashboards are used to provide a graphical interface for selected Users and Groups and can be customized to fit the requirements of each Groups or Users. The Dashboard Section in Administration Options is where the Dashboard Objects are created and configured.
Selecting Design Dashboard will launch Dashboard Configurator. This is where the contents of the Dashboard are defined. The panels that can be added to Dashboard provide information about aspects of Manage, such as Tasks.
Timesheets are used in Projects and can reference individual Tasks. The Timesheet Section uses a Wizard, similar to other Administration Option Sections. Timesheets are used to track time against project stages where the user is assigned as a resource.
Other Sections of Structures are:
- Relationships, for managing Customer Relationship Management Objects
- Resources for Resource Objects, such as Employees.
- Webforms Objects
- Task Objects
The last Area in Administrations Options is a link to launch SOLIDWORKS PDM Administration.
Manage functions and data can be made available to the PDM Vault view, if the Manage Add-in has been imported, through PDM Administration.
This article presented an overview of some of the key areas in SOLIDWORKS Manage Administration. The goal of this article is to illustrate the level of configurability that this product offers. If implemented correctly, Manage can take an organization to the next level of managing their projects and processes.
About the Author
Joe Medeiros as a Senior Applications Engineer at Javelin Technologies, a premier SOLIDWORKS reseller, servicing customers throughout Canada, offers SOLIDWORKS customers expertise in implementing and using SOLIDWORKS solutions
Joe has been involved in many aspects of the SOLIDWORKS product family since 1996, and as an award-winning blogger, he regularly writes about SOLIDWORKS solutions.