Top 5 Best Practices for Selecting Software for Your Next Turbomachinery Design Project

The airport was bustling with people. The boards were a mixture of delayed and on-time flights. My flight to San Diego for the EUEC Conference was one of the delayed. This happens when you travel as much as I do, so I found a quiet spot to get a few hours of work in while I waited. In the café at JFK, I overheard a conversation between two other detained travelers discussing what they wish they knew before purchasing software tools and/or hiring external consulting companies.

Their pain points were identical to the pain points I’ve encountered in my decade plus years at SoftInWay meeting with design engineers, engineering managers, CxOs, and other non-technical people in my industry (simulation software and R&D of turbomachinery). Over the years, I have used the knowledge gained in my experience to help guide people in making big decisions such as purchasing turbomachinery design software or hiring consultants on a new project and I wanted to share with the blog community as well.

Here are the top 5 Best Practices I suggest everyone use before embarking on their next big software purchase or hiring consultants for their design project.

1. Technical Know-how.

Everyone wants to make the best purchasing decision from a firm that has both the product and technical skill to successfully complete the job, but you need to look past the glossy brochures and well-tailored suits to uncover the truth behind their touted experience. Some companies claim expertise based a handful of people who worked there 30-50 years ago. Are these people still an active part of project decisions? All too often, these people have left the firm or retired. With these murky practices, customers and their projects are left vulnerable to misinformed decisions by an underqualified staff.

Before moving forward with a big purchasing decision, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the person offering me the software knowledgeable about the technology that is being developed?
  • Has this person ever successfully completed a project start to finish?
  • Do they understand the specifics of my problem?

2. Accountability.

All turbomachinery projects require open communication between the design firm or software vendor and the client. Otherwise, you will end up with a product that does not work the way you need it to. Things will pop up and you may need some features added or removed from your design tool. Technical know-how anticipates these challenges and accountability makes sure these problems are fixed so your project stays on time and on budget.

To uncover how accountable your software vendor will be, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I know the software will do exactly what I want it to do?
  • How does the evaluation process work?
  • What happens if the project doesn’t work?
  • What happens if I change my mind in 6 months?
  • Are they trustworthy/Do I trust this team?

3. Responsibility.

When you hire an outside consulting company or purchase software for a turbomachinery design project, you need to know the company will be there to help you out, not just as the project is being completed, but also a few years down the line when you have been working with the software. The real issues with such a purchase emerge after you have been using it for 2 – 5 years. You’ll know the parts you use daily, but the other features may be forgotten. You need to know that the people who worked with you in the beginning will still be there, not at another company selling competing products. Online tools at career sites like Indeed and Monster can show you a company’s retention rate, and how many long-term clients they have.

Here’s how to tell if the company you select will be there down the road when you need them:

  • Is the person I am speaking with personally accountable and responsible for the activities of the company?
  • Will this person still be invested in this technology 2 to 5 years from now or will they be selling a competing product at a higher price?

4. Price of the Purchase.

The price will always be an important factor when choosing a design tool. Getting quotes for the same type of software from three different companies will give you a good range of prices. When reviewing these options, you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples and that you understand what is included. Some companies cage their quotes in convoluted pricing games such as offering a “discount” that does not include the items you need. These games are designed to hike up the price as soon as you are lock in with their floating tech support. The more straightforward the quote, the easier it is to understand and compare. Don’t waste your time or money on a company who hides the true cost, because they are most likely hiding other things you need to know.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are judging the submitted quotes:

  •  Do you understand the pricing?
  • Is there an itemized list of what is included and can you find the same items on each quote?
  • Are there any pricing games going on? How will the structure affect your project?
  • How much time and money is this product saving, and what is it improving from technical perspective?

5. Validation.

Doing the validation yourself is more valuable than 20,000 perfect slides provided by the vendors on the validation process.

Here is what you need to ask about the validation process before accepting the final project:

  • Have I done the validation myself?
  • Have I done the validation myself?
  • Have I done the validation myself?

In addition to the above five practices, I wanted to leave you with one bonus best practice for selecting help for a project of any sort.

6. Reputation and Openness.

Your project is important and you want to get the right software tools and team to make your project a success. Do your due diligence to know exactly who you are working with. Fact check everything. A web search on Google and LinkedIn are great places to start. Check out their past projects and call their customers to get the true feel of how it is to work with this company. A trustworthy company looking for your business will offer references.

Here are some ways to tell if the company is offering reputable products:

  • Did the company offer references for you to contact and ask questions of?
  • How do their past clients rate the success of the software at the start of the project, in the middle of the project, at delivery, and now later after they have been using the tool for a while?
  • Is the information you see on the web searches consistent with what you were told?
  • What is their Better Business Bureau rating?

Following these simple Best Practices before you embark on your next software purchase or project will help you create a successful project on time and on budget which you can use issue free for years to come.

If you have any other best practices you find helpful, please let me know via email at or leave a comment below.

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