Beyond Points and Lines – Choosing the Right Pattern Design Software

Monday, October 8, 2012Categories: Apparel/Fashion, Blog, CAD, Software

Pattern design software offered by most companies meets the minimum criteria. It enables the pattern designer to create and modify patterns. However, the best systems are easy to learn, easy to use on a daily basis, contain powerful time-saving functions that drastically improve productivity and are supported by professionals who understand what is required to output a pattern that will succeed in production. Beyond individual features and functionality, what else should you consider before making a pattern design software purchase? 

Commitment to Excellence

Does the company selling the pattern design software own the software or is it a reseller?  If the company doesn’t manage programming in house, it may not be able to respond to software issues in a timely manner.  How often does the company add new features to the software?  Does the software run on the latest operating systems? Is the software tested in the field and how are customer enhancement requests managed?  The most reputable and successful pattern design software developers are constantly asking customers to test their latest release in a manufacturing environment where it can undergo the demands of day-to-day pattern making.  Voice of the customer feedback is critical to  ongoing enhancements and the success of pattern design software.  

Product Support and Software Upgrades

Does your proposed vendor offer a software support agreement? What does it include? Leading pattern design software companies staff support professionals in many parts of the world who can answer your software-related questions during work hours either by phone or email – in your native language. This is particularly critical if you’re up against a deadline and encounter an issue with the software.

Ongoing upgrades to software releases are critical to improving software performance and offering enhanced functionality. Imagine if your standard work platforms like word processing and email did not offer consistent upgrades?

Training

What about your ongoing training requirements? There’s always a better, faster, more efficient way to use the software. And, let’s face it, there’s always going to be pattern designers who come and go and new employees who will require training. Does your software provider employ trainers who are truly subject matter experts on the software and pattern design in general? Like the best teachers, are they trained in how to best teach people to use the software? And finally, are these individuals available when and where you need them either in person or via the Internet? 

Downstream Integration with Spreaders and Cutters

Pattern design software is but one step in the product development process. If the pattern is destined for a garment, it must be graded. Markers and nests must be made and plotted. Material must be spread and cut. Does the pattern design software communicate seamlessly with pattern plotters, automated spreaders and computer-controlled cutters downstream? Thinking bigger picture, can it tie into enterprise-wide systems like PLM (product lifecycle management), warehouse management and order management systems?

As with most major purchases, asking the right questions of the vendor is critical to making an informed decision. Focusing solely on features may not provide a complete picture of what you stand to gain from your pattern design software. Of course, the best method to help gauge which pattern design software system is best for you is to speak to as many experienced pattern design software users as possible. You’ll quickly be able to compile a list of the most robust and well-rounded systems.