Version control systems are an integral part of hardware design, and make the process much easier. With these systems, changes which took weeks to implement, can now take place in real-time. The benefits and convenience this offers is boundless, but there are a number of best practices which companies need to follow to effectively implement version control.
Unless best practices are followed, companies cannot get the best out of version control to their benefit. Once they keep a number of considerations in view, they can maximize their productivity and minimize all sorts of communication hurdles.
The good news is that most of these best practices are easy to apply, and just involve a bit of common sense and planning, which companies must have in any case. Some of these ground rules which are a must to follow are:
1. Define why you need version control
Take into strong consideration exactly what your company does, and then see why you need version control. For example, you could have a large team with engineers having to make changes to products on a constant basis. Without version control, making these changes without hindering the workflow of other team members will be quite arduous and difficult.
2. Determine your requirements
Once you know you need version control, then figure out what exactly you need from it. If you're part of the hardware industry, for example, then visual diffing is a must. Of course, in any case, having different branches is also necessary. This allows users to make all the changes and alterations they want and work on one product design simultaneously.
3. Know your users
When you know why you need version control and what aspects of it are required, thoroughly consider who'll be using these version control systems. This includes engineers, designers, suppliers, manufacturers, and clients. All of them will have different levels of technical knowledge, so a good version control system must be easy to use for everyone.
4. Evaluate what tool you need
Once all these aspects have been figured out, you can do your research on which tool to use. There are countless tools out there with integrated version control systems, but not all of them are built the same. This is why it is necessary to compare at least three tools, and determine which one is best for you.
5. Figure out if it will actually work for you
If possible, get a trial run of the system you shortlist, and then have your team use it for a week or two. In addition, take advantage of any help guides, trainings or any other assistance that the tool's vendors are offering. This test run will allow your team to get used to the systems, and learn how to operate them to their full potential.
These best practices are a useful basic guideline on how you can get the best version control system for your needs, and how you can maximize your workflow productivity. To explore one such tool, check out InventHub, with its wide array of features specialized for the hardware industry.