In order to gain insight into our work it makes sense to look at other projects, how they work, what they achieve, etc. Different projects can offer a critical perspective, bring something fresh to the table and an opportunity to improve. It can be fulfilled within the office and it usually is the case. However, if you are in a situation where you don’t have colleagues around you, or a trusted work environment, it can be difficult. In these situations you must proceed with caution.
Lets not forget, there is so much to reap from the process of creation rather than just the final result. The former is the one containing the drafts and the evolution of the idea. It gives insight on the thought process, other potential options and the intricate inner mechanisms. Whereas the final result is more of an approved solid body that doesn’t give away much of how it came to be. Learning by your mistakes is often the key to arriving at the end result.
Narrow the scope of your questions
If you require feedback from a third party, be specific and accurate over what you really need. Write down your observations and questions – understand your own thought process first. This way, you will know which parts you can show/share with someone else. If it is the shell’s shape you can show various features in several screenshots – more visual than statistical. If it is the mesh quality of a component, you can export the statistics together with images to give a wider scope. Big companies work this way with their consultants. Instead of exchanging big files to answer a query or give an opinion, the consultant creates a Powerpoint with screenshots, questions and explanations. Not only is it quicker and less intensive but the important data is retained in the office. Well, at least until creation of the first official draft.
Confidentiality clauses are vital
In this day and age most of us are aware of how valuable information can be and how important it is to protect your work. Many people won’t be too surprised at the use of confidentiality clauses / Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs). You tend to find people will readily agree to sign or outright refuse. There are others who need educating on the reasons why although more often that not they will eventually understand. Whether you are looking to protect your written work, computer documents or your actual product, never underestimate the value of your work.
Make sure to have “dead” bodies
If the screenshots aren’t enough, or if the desired check has to be performed on the whole model, make sure it is a “dead one” or rather an “empty shell”. Give as little away as possible! In CAD, this translates to a rigid body with no CAD tree, no construction sets and no indication about the buildup. The format can be encrypted or unexploitable on other software. While reverse engineering such parts is not impossible it is very daunting. Depending on how crucial the transfer of data is, adjusting the model to corrupt whatever information can be harvested aside is another way to deal with it.
Mark sent files and write reports over them
One good habit to adopt while working on drafts to be sent externally is to add special modifications to them. These will allow them to be tracked and document their specs and states before sending them. If external insight is vital, it is better to seek feedback from two or more bodies and send different versions to each one. It requires time, and you may pass for the office lunatic/conspiracy theorist. However, in the event of a leak you will be able to pinpoint the culprit from the work that emerges. This also provides data on the different models that could be used afterwards to defend the case of the company.
Cloud viewing solutions
Nowadays, there are plenty of platforms that provide “model management” solutions. Useful websites where you can create an account, upload your model and choose whom to share it with. Control the extent of their access and restrict them to simple rotate or zoom in and out options. They won’t be able to salvage numbers, even if measuring the screen with a ruler, or guess the level of scaling. Besides, this way, you are able to share your model on a broader range and get different feedback. All the while tracking the analytics behind who has looked and for how long. Many of these platforms allow you to add post-its or documents for the viewers to provide feedback on the go.