Here at IMAGINiT Technologies, we work with many organizations that use Autodesk Vault. The solution is a powerful tool, but some teams either don't take advantage of its full potential or they experience common pitfalls. Based on our work with clients in the field, let's explore some of the top Autodesk Vault pitfalls and possibilities:
- The organization doesn't have a backup strategy. A fair number of organizations don't think about Autodesk Vault backups until it comes time to upgrade or disaster strikes and a server fails. To complete an upgrade or recover from a system failure, organizations must have a backup that was generated using Vault tools. Server snapshots will not work.
With that in mind, a best practice is to automate Vault backups using the Schedule Backup tool. This uses a batch file to initiate a scheduled task at a specific time. Another option is to use a PowerShell script. When automating backups, remember that the system needs a valid Vault admin name, username, and password. If any of those pieces of information aren't correct, the backup won't run. Unfortunately, Vault will not tell you if a backup failed.
Some organizations like to store backups on tape or on an external drive. Those are great options for Vault backups, but keep in mind that the initial Vault backup must be initiated on the system where Vault is installed. Then the Vault backup files can be transferred to secondary storage media.
- Configuring Vault Properties. System properties and user defined properties are automatically shared between Inventor and Vault. However, custom Inventor properties don't automatically carry over to Vault. It's possible to create a new property in Vault and then pull the custom Inventor property over.
It can also be helpful in Vault to create properties and use them as tags to categorize information. These are used solely in Vault and are not shared back into Inventor. Many organizations use Vault across multiple departments, so a tag such as "Project Number" can be a helpful way to find information.
- Searching Within Vault. The simple search function within Vault is a helpful tool if you are looking for a specific thing, such as a part number. In some cases, however, it may generate too many search results – say you search on the term "side." To address this situation, Vault provides a user interface which enables users to search on specific properties, such as file name. It's also possible to create complex searches using operators like "contains," "doesn't contain," and more.
- Using Lifecycle and Revision Tools. These tools transform Vault from a data management tool to a more complex release management system. The lifecycle and revision tools are only available for organizations using Vault Workgroup or Vault Professional.
Although it is possible to change the revision versions of files using the Revision functionality alone, a best practice is to use it in conjunction with the Lifecycle functionality. For instance, let's say that the lifecycle state of a file is changed to "Released." At that time, the file is locked down and no further edits or checkouts are allowed. To make changes to the file, the user must change the lifecycle state to "Work in Progress." This change has two effects: first, it automatically changes the file revision from Rev A to Rev B and second, it enables users to make additional edits to the file.
- Sharing Files Outside Vault. Vault's "Shared Views" functionality generates a viewable file that people can view on the Autodesk View website. Users can set an expiration date to define how long the document will be viewable. If Vault users want to go beyond merely sharing documents and collaborate with others, they can use the Project Sync feature. This is only available to organizations using Vault Professional. A file folder or group of folders can be sent to Autodesk 360. Collaborators can work on files, repost them to Autodesk 360, and then sync them back to Vault.
If your organization uses Vault and you're intrigued about the possibilities that you may have overlooked, you may be interested in an IMAGINiT Vault Health Check. This service is designed to help teams optimize their Vault environments and derive even greater efficiencies. During a Vault Health Check, IMAGINiT experts come onsite for a half day to interview CAD and Vault Admins and subject matter expert users. After identifying pain points and usage patterns, the IMAGINiT team conducts a half day of offsite analysis and generates a report with findings.
To learn more initiating a Vault Health Check, please feel free to contact us, we'd love to learn more about your practices.