Archive for December, 2010

National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Show Boston 2010

Friday, December 17th, 2010

DraftLogic had a booth at the recent NECA show in Boston.  It was our first public event as a company and the public unveiling of DraftLogic Electrical’s production release.  We have had users for years prior, but they were all beta sites helping us with development.  Gerry and I manned the booth & Ivy was our support crew.

The new convention center in Boston is cavernous, to say the least.  When we dropped by the day before show opening to get set up, we got a golf cart ride from the entrance to the NECA show hall which was at the other end of the convention center.  The ride took some time even though the golf cart was moving along at a good pace!  I think an aircraft carrier would comfortably fit in the convention halls…

Since it was a show for electrical contractors, the products and services being exhibited were diverse.  There were a number of estimating software companies, many tool vendors, surge suppression manufacturers, lighting companies, vehicles, and more.  DraftLogic was the only electrical design software being exhibited at the show.

Attendance was not dismal, nor was it what I would call busy.  In the prior trade shows I have attended as an exhibitor, there was always someone wanting to learn about your offerings.  When you are that busy, the day goes fast and you wish you had more time available to talk to folks.  NECA 2010 had a few busy times, but the sum total over three days was a few hours of ‘busy’.  The rest of the time we had to resort to mugging, which is what I call it when you have to approach walkers-by to let them know what you do and ask them if they want to know more.   Regardless of the method of introduction, we did meet some great folks & many of them would benefit greatly from using DraftLogic Electrical.

For all you software entrepreneurs out there, my recommendation on exhibiting at trade shows is to do so…but with extreme caution about which shows you go to.  An excellent show can make your year.  To qualify as thus, the show has to bring large numbers of folks that fit your target market to the show and structure the trade show and other functions such that folks have time to and desire to walk the show floor and see your offering.  The worst of the shows will do nothing but vacuum money out of your pocket and waste your time.  You will go in ready for lots of great conversations and you will come out feeling dejected and ripped off!  So carefully qualify shows by looking at costs and time versus who is going to be coming to the show, the quantity of prospects you think will fit your offering, and whether the show organizer is doing all they can to get traffic past your booth.

Lastly, do not be afraid to greet walkers-by with a two second catch phrase and question.  It is costing you a lot to be at the show, you need to make the best of it.  Make sure your question cannot be answered with a ‘no’ and that it qualifies the prospect as possibly a fit for your product or not.   Something like ‘How many design-build projects did your company complete in the last 12 months?’  This gave Gerry and I all the information we needed to know if DraftLogic Electrical was going to be good for the prospect or not & also raised the interest of those that were doing design-build work.

Will we attend NECA 2011?  Hard to say, which tells you that it was not anywhere near as good a show as we hoped for us!

Merry Christmas to all!

Dean Whitford


PS for Technorati:  BD6F246X82GH

New Software Tools — Not Like Classic Cars!

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Do you know anyone that owns a classic car?  They probably don’t drive it much, usually only a few km a year to go exhibit at a local car show or maybe even just a few meters a year to load on and off a trailer to transport to car shows.  The classic car is thus not used day-to-day for regular transportation needs, it has only specialized use.

Why the classic car reference?  Well, some software tools that are intended to be used day-to-day end up being used only for specialized purposes.  We think this happens because people have spent years doing things they way they do and would like to stick to ‘old reliable’ processes except where it is blatantly obvious that the new tools is best suited for a particular job.  The possible return to the company of the affected software tools is drastically reduced by this behavior, since the benefits of the tools are only experienced on occasional jobs instead of all possible jobs the software tool can benefit the company by being used on.

Some folks see a demo of DraftLogic Electrical or are trained on it and then assume that DraftLogic Electrical is suitable only for specific purposes…kind of like that classic car.  Well, today I write to let you know that we designed DraftLogic Electrical to provide you advantages on almost every kind of project.

DraftLogic Electrical has six phases of amazing automation:  automated room creation, automated electrical device placement, automated circuiting, automated branch circuit wiring, automated floor plans/reports/schedules, and automated export of the entire project into ConEst IntelliBid.  What we occasionally fail to communicate is that each of these phases of automation is completely separate and that the data needed for any of the subsequent steps can be generated using other tools that we supply.  So, for example, a user can manually prep the architect drawing for use with DraftLogic Electrical, place the electrical systems devices using our tool palettes, and use the Circuit Manager to manually complete all the circuiting.  DraftLogic Electrical sees all this completely manually created data as the same as data created by all the automated phases.  Subsequent automation works just fine with the manually created data, allowing users to take advantage of the automated branch circuit wiring, automated floor plans/reports/schedules, and automated export of the entire project into ConEst IntelliBid–regardless of how the devices were placed in the drawing and circuited.

And by the way, our ‘manual’ tools are not very manual!  DraftLogic Electrical devices know whether they are wall, ceiling,  or floor mounted and automatically snap and rotate to reference locations like walls and tbar cells.  Tools like auto reload and high volume move and copy tools vastly reduce the number of mouse clicks and keystrokes necessary to get the electrical devices you need into the drawing.  DraftLogic Electrical does not do absolutely everything for you and there are some things that we have not attempted to automate, namely high voltage applications and large industrial design needs. The key thing to understand is that even with projects where you will need to use your current tools DraftLogic Electrical can still integrate nicely with that project and deal with all the areas we do well. Any electrical loads, lights, receptacles, motors, panels, special outlets and auxiliary systems we handle efficiently, accurately and effectively.

After training new users on how to take best advantage of our revolutionary building electrical systems design software, DraftLogic Electrical, we know that it is absolutely vital that they use it as much as possible in order for the the training to have been useful.  There is a direct and strong relationship between familiarity with a software tool and the benefit that one can gain from it.  So even in the very unlikely scenario where using DraftLogic Electrical has the same productivity as your current processes in doing a project, there is benefit in using it due to the experience that the designer gains, thus improving performance on subsequent projects.

Are there needs you have on a project and you are not sure how DraftLogic Electrical can meet them?  Call or email me and if I can’t show you how DraftLogic Electrical can meet that need now, our development team will quickly add the needed functionality!

Kindest Regards,

Dean Whitford
Chief Operating Officer
DraftLogic Electrical