NX customers and users worldwide are familiar with the process that accepts their product improvement idea and documents this idea as an Enhancement Request (ER). What many may not know, however, is what happens once they submit a request. There is a reputation among CAD users, regardless of the company or software they use, that ERs are a bit of a black hole. In other words, a lot goes in but very little if anything comes out. We would like to change this perception.
Each NX release delivers enhancements specifically focused on improving customer workflow productivity. Helping users be more efficient with NX is a primary goal for us, and customer ERs are an important part of that process. While feedback from customers and industry reviews suggest that we do a good job of achieving this goal, our follow-through on keeping the ER database up-to-date with these accomplishments has sometimes lagged.
As a result, the team has dedicated time over the past months to review large sections of the ER database to bring these records to current status. From this effort, more than 1,000 ERs have been closed as Implemented with the recent NX 12 release.
We’ve gained some valuable insight over the course of this initiative that we would like to share now with the wider NX Design community. The key focus, of course, is to help you help us with regard to enhancement requests.
The ER process works through the worldwide organization and experts that are the Global Technical Access Center or GTAC. GTAC maintains the database of ideas as ERs. Each request has its own tracking number that allows you to monitor your idea towards through its delivery into a future release of NX.
As was previously mentioned, a key focus of ours is to improve customer workflow productivity. We’ve found that similar workflows and priorities can be grouped by customer industries – aerospace, automotive, consumer, electronics, energy, machinery, marine, and medical. Often, incoming ERs are ideas for specific commands in a step-wise fashion. These in turn, drive customer workflow productivity by making user task scenarios more efficient.
A well-documented ER contains technical documentation, which can include any of the following: a text description, scenario a user encounters which the idea for improvement solves, supporting NX prt file, perhaps a mock image of the future capability, performance timing comparisons, documentation on industry standard, perhaps a simulated video comparing the existing steps with the envisioned improved steps. The ER record can include anything that could be used to illustrate the improvement value and sufficiently communicate your idea to an NX team member who will eventually review your ER.
The general template used in GTAC for ER submittal is as follows:
- ER Portion of Template:
- Short Description:
- What activity in your process is NX not able to currently handle?
- What result are you trying to achieve? Please provide as many details as possible.
- Do you currently have a workaround? If yes, please describe it.
- Do you have a proposal for the solution you envision NX providing for this capability?
- What is the level of productivity gained from such an enhancement?
After reviewing thousands of ERs, we offer the following three suggestions that will help with ER submittal and selection as a candidate for inclusion in a future NX product plan:
- A crisp, brief description to help categorize your submitted ER and make it stand out to the reviewing product manager.
- Sufficient documentation with the understanding that the reader and evaluator of your idea may be reviewing your submitted ER sometime after its submittal, and usually within the context of an already much improved future NX release.
- Clear success criteria which provides the foundation for the product manager and quality assurance personnel to clearly be able to close the ER as Implemented after performing hands-on validation.
Following the proper steps and our guidance for ER submittal helps to increase the likelihood that your ER will be implemented in a future release of NX.
Ultimately, the passion of the NX organization is driven by seeing in the marketplace the great products our customers create. Being responsive to user Enhancement Requests is something that satisfies each NX product manager. We believe that the creativity and innovation that form ideas into great products from our customers can be applied to Ideation to further the greatness of the NX product.