Why it’s time to move our business away from 2020 Fusion design software

My small business specialises in the design, supply and installation of kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. With my penchant for computing it’s no surprise we rely heavily on information technology. However, I don’t write and build all the software we use and that’s especially true when it comes to CAD [Computer Aided Design].

On the surface, CAD is really simple. Draw some lines on the screen. Colour in some spaces, print some pictures and maybe export some things for other software. So far, so good. Of course, the devil as always is in the detail. We need our software to draw the pictures based on products and materials we can buy from our suppliers. We need it to generate accurate plans and we need it to generate respectable pictures so our customers can visualise what they’re going to (hopefully) buy. Being the type of business we are, a lot of what we do includes unique and bespoke configurations. ‘Simple’ things like doors shaped to fit a ceiling and exceptional work like the Star Field ceiling.

From shortly after we began our business almost 20 years ago we’ve been using software called ‘Planit’, which then changed it’s name to became ‘Fusion’, which then changed it’s name to become ’20-20 Fusion’ (as Planit were bought out by another CAD company called 2020). This is an industry specific program. Rather than use a generic CAD program which just creates the graphics and images (maybe AutoCad or Sketchup are good comparisons to this), this program lets us choose and add cabinets quickly to the design and then also shows the price for all the items we’ve added. Being industry specific it also is set up to do things we need quickly. For example add and calculate cornice and pelmet lengths and quantities for a room in a few clicks of the mouse. All of these things can be done in products like sketchup, they just take longer.

The ranges we can add in Fusion represent the real world ranges, with accurate and ‘photo realistic’ representations of real products. Indeed, this is the whole reason for using Fusion – the accurate range of products and the prices. Without that, the product is no better than any other generic design program.

We pay over £1,000 a year to 2020 for ‘maintenance and support’ (not the same as the licence to use the software, which was several thousand pound as a one off charge a long time ago) but we’ve come to some disagreement recently over what that actually means. To me, that means they provide the software and updates to that software over time (eg: making sure it works with Windows 10, adding features to keep up with modern technology) and most importantly they’ll keep up to date with changes the manufacturers make to their products, be that new products, new pricing, new shapes of end panel… and so on. Most of the software updates over the last few years have been minor from our view, we simply don’t need bells and whistles as much as we need accurate 3D objects and prices. It’s the accurate 3D objects and prices that have become a problem.

The 2020 Fusion view of the arrangement is;

I understand your frustration with catalogue updates. However the maintenance & support monthly fees include software updates pertaining to the Fusion software, manufacturer catalogues updates are maintained as per the contract agreement with each manufacturer.
Pasquale Brancati, 2020 Director Customer Support & Retention

I don’t understand how that sits alongside the support renewal letter (2013-14 was the first I found) which says things like ‘Full access to our extensive library of supported manufacturers catalogues’ and ‘maintenance and updates to certain selected catalogues’.

I’m also struggling to reconcile that with their brochure, which says things like ‘Instantly produce customer quotes, with all manufacturer items accurately priced, based upon the features and options chosen.’ (page 2) and “We are continuously working with manufacturers to forge new and lasting partnerships, ensuring that our customers benefit from the widest range of options available, delivered in parallel with the release of their product manuals.” (page 6). Without the manufacturer catalogues, there is no useful program.

My experience is 2020 no longer provide accurate and up to date supplier catalogues or even timely corrections to error reports. A few examples:

  • Crown Kitchens ‘Rococo’ range, released almost a year ago (I have, to hand, a price list from May 2015 that offers this range) yet still not in the Fusion catalogue.
  • PWS end panel with a radius front profile, no graphic despite availability for a long time.
  • Daval Kitchens & Bedrooms… Years out of date, though to be fair, Fusion have *just* begun to provide an almost working kitchen catalogue but I’m pretty sure it’s only because Daval have paid them to do so. It still isn’t complete at the time of writing this

Those 3 suppliers are listed in the Fusion marketing brochure (page 6) and yet clearly Fusion are not updating the data. Why?

Well, I started asking questions (it appears I’m not the only one) and eventually I have a reply. Fusion are trying to charge the manufacturers as well as me for keeping the data up to date. Perhaps they always did and perhaps the manufacturers have decided Fusion want to charge too much. This means the updates aren’t done, this means the software is becoming useless. OK, useless is harsh, it’s becoming expensive and ineffective for it’s original use. It is no longer fit for purpose.

Here are extracts of the Fusion response emails

24 Jan 2016

Thanks for getting in contact with us.
Yes there has not been a update on the PWS Second nature catalogue for a while, this is due to the manufacturer not providing us with the latest information. I am very certain that there is a update due soon, i will double check with my colleague in our data team and get back to you. I have looked through our outstanding data errors and i can see that you reported a missing item from PWS.

From: fusionsupport
Sent: 09 March 2016 10:37

Data can you provide some info on the below concern please, as the customer is quite frustrated.

From: Sacha Smiley 
Sent: March-09-16 9:57 AM

Sales are currently in discussion with Crown and PWS about updating the Fusion catalogues.
Gary, can you provide a status on Crown, PWS? Daval we’ve had approval for an update on bedrooms, but were instructed to hold off due to the Insight project.

From: fusionsupport

Sent: 11 March 2016 11:12

Subject: RE: Yet more catalogues out of date… is it time we move software?

I still haven’t received an update on this. We are in the midst of losing another customer. We need answers please.

From: Gary Court 

Sent: 11 March 2016 12:03

Subject: RE: Yet more catalogues out of date… is it time we move software?

I met with Crown at KBB he has asked me to look at outstanding SOW as he feels it is expensive and he is also sending me another update to analyse both sow’s will be completed at the same time
PWS I am in talks to use System Six cat and rename ranges as it is all PWS doors

So, there we have it. The public line always given to me, over the years, has been ‘The manufacturer isn’t supplying us the data’ but the real story is Fusion won’t do the update until the manufacturer pays. The manufacturers won’t tell us this, because I’m sure they don’t want to upset Fusion. Planit has a lot of businesses like mine using their software so it’s very important for manufacturers to have their products available there. Indeed, I wouldn’t consider replacing Daval, PWS or Crown with another supplier unless their products were available within the design software we use.

I don’t have a problem with manufacturers being charged, but I’m not keen on how it’s been hidden from view and I’m very displeased the current situation is that catalogues are out of date and updates and fixes not being carried out. If only the industry had a more open system and manufacturers could more easily create their own data. We have every supplier send us price lists by email, mostly excel with a few using CSV. I then import and reformat these to suit our needs and our business system. If only they could send us a file for design software in the same way. Maybe, one day, we’ll all be using software like Sketchup and manufacturers will send us catalogues directly. Could you imagine if you could only send a spreadsheet to your customer if you paid Microsoft to create and update it for you?

What to do now?
We’re going to move to another software solution. I’m absolutely certain there will be some annoyances with that software – maybe the pictures aren’t as nice, maybe it doesn’t allow us to import 3D objects we’ve designed in sketchup (for our more bespoke solutions), but the truth is I’d rather have the up to date catalogues. So important is the data to my business, we’ll be spending several thousand pounds a year for the alternative software. The data really is the valuable bit.

My biggest concern remains that the system we move too will at some point in the future also deteriorate into not maintaining manufacturer catalogues. We use different software for bathroom design (better 3D objects, no pricing but that isn’t so important in bathroom design) and they too go through phases of being slow to update some catalogues.


19 responses to “Why it’s time to move our business away from 2020 Fusion design software”

  1. Hi
    Enjoyed reading your post. Just purchased 20 20 for our new kitchen showroom.. My issue was more with the quoting system. It’s very weak
    Please update us on your experience with new software

    1. We never used the Fusion quoting options, even back to it being Planit. My rational was that the quotes need to be converted to invoices which then need to be converted to purchase orders from multiple suppliers. As that wasn’t available from 2020/Planit I built a database that did it instead*. I also never liked the restrictions on the page layout or text output (limited, or just plain wrong when you were doing something non standard or had to use a graphic item but it would default to being on the parts list). I did customise the reports a little to give us item lists and a furniture total price for the room.

      We’ve a system I wrote in MS Access for invoicing, quoting, ordering from suppliers and tracking deliveries that we use instead of fusion, I gather it’s a bit like ‘EasyQuote’ or similar. If I was starting today and if I didn’t have the IT skills I’m sure I’d buy in a system like that rather than rely on the design software extensions. In fact I’ve been looking this last few years to move off of the MS Access system I wrote onto a web based platform, like OpenERP or writing it myself with Ruby on Rails. There are advantages and disadvantages and whilst MS Access is working with few issues I’ve no need to hurry into change.

      *Actually, I started the business using sets of excel spreadsheets with some macro automation. For example a ‘form’ view tab where I could create the invoice as if it was a piece of paper then the ‘print’ button copied the entries into a table form so I could view and reprint them in the future, analyse the data, etc. For quotes I had a similar spreadsheet with supplier prices and a vlookup formula to get price and description from a code with a button to copy that into a printable view.

    2. In terms of costing, how do you do your costing?

      If you base your costing (And use your own factory or cut and Edge) you might want to use something like Maxcut (Yes it can be linked in a way to 20-20 Fusion if you want)

      Disclaimer – I was one of the programmers who helped build maxcut. So I might be a bit biased.

      In terms of costing I have found what we have offered free in this competes with what allot of companies charge for.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Interesting article. And I believe very true.

  3. Pat Brancati

    Hello Mr. Root,

    We came across this blog and felt is was important to provide you and others on this blog a status update.

    The Crown, PWS & Daval kitchen catalogs have all been updated since your post. As well we’ve taken major steps towards our 2020 Cloud content access for our 2020 Fusion users.

    If your interested to know more about these updates and renew your support contract, please feel free to contact our customer support team.

    2020 Fusion
    Support +44.(0)1233.635566
    Sales +44(0)1233.649700
    Hours : Mon – Fri 9:00 – 18:00 (GMT+1)

    Kind regards,

    Pasquale Brancati
    Director Customer Support & Retention

  4. Hi Steve,

    I just came across your post and found your experiences to be very informative. After experiencing same issues with other kitchen CAD software vendors I developed EASYSKETCH back in 2014 which is a plugin for SketchUp It’s purely a kitchen design tool but bridges the gap between cost and features perfectly.

    I now offer this to a wider audience amongst which some are KBB professionals. Some have even paid for bespoke development and are enjoying the benefits of an affordable solution for their business whether they be kitchens designers or manufacturers.

    1. Hi John,
      I tried your plugin when I started looking for an alternative to Planit and I remember I really liked it. Sketchup is great but not yet ready for us to rely on in our business.

    2. Dean Telford

      Hi interesting comments,I used to be with 2020 but can’t seem to get anyone to answer their phones or reply to emails concerning an issue with old software. I’m a carpenter who fits the odd kitchen so I don’t need anything too elaborate. Can anyone recommend a basic software package that I can pay a one off payment. Many thanks

      1. Have a look at Trimble Sketchup.
        Pros: 3D modelling application so you can do any shape/design you need or want.
        Pros: Can import 3D objects from other places (EG: some appliance manufacturers publish their own objects you can use).
        Cons: Doesn’t have ready to go catalogues/unit pricing from manufacturers
        Cons: Learning a new program.

  5. 20/20 Design is terrible for designers and should not be a design industry standard!
    Using it for anything beyond kitchen layouts has been a nightmare. I expected for the cost of the software, the connection to sketch up models and the technical support I felt confident starting my business in late 2016.

    I’m no newbie, having 8+ years architectural experience. I mainly used autoCAD, photoshop and a little sketchup, which were all seamless for me! Having 20/20 has been FATEFUL to my business and the company does not care. I went online for support countless number of times last year and nothing improved. They offered me no other solutions, until my then-boyfriend (who happened to work at Microsoft) name dropped and told them the problem was not my computer it was their software. Then they installed something to monitor the crashes but I just couldn’t handle having to do their heavy lifting. Drawings take me 5x as long as they should! Due to this I’m not making the income I’m capable of and I’m a single parent. I can’t tell you the amount of stress dealing with this company has caused.
    I purchased a new computer in December thinking that was what I needed after ONE YEAR of suffering. Microsoft Surface, TOP OF THE LINE. 20/20 still crashes and I believe I have to transition to AutoCAD and Sketchup if I want my company to be profitable.

  6. I have been using 2020 for almost 20 years. You think it crashes now you should have seen it 20 year ago. I have currently started using autocad Revit and am stunned how it’s scope is much broader then 2020 and yet it is much more stable.
    Further to your issue 2020 is a greedy company double dipping from both the dealers and the manufacture. if they were wise they would do the catalog development for manufactures for free and charge us for the software and support. This way every manufacture would provide their catalogs and every manufactures catalogs would be built the same. I am currently working for Urban effects a division of Norcraft cabinets. I we have 1 catalog developer and his major goal is to lock down the cabinets so sales people can’t modify the modules. Urban effects is a “Custom” cabinet manufacture. You send in a drawings and the price it and build it. Problem is we can’t modify the unit so we can send in the drawings of what we want.
    Then there is the fact that the 2020 catalog was built on and old Kitchen Craft 2020 catalog. It is filled with stupid little mistakes. eg Pantry with 3 doors can only have the handles all on the top of the doors or all on the bottom of the doors. We have begged Ken for 1 year to fix this. It will happen on the next release. Why will Norcraft not pay 2020 to fix all the little problems. The cost $30G and they won’t pay it. It 2020 would just stop charging for catalog development and service the manufacture with up to date catalogs, both manufactures and dealer could be happier, sales higher. For me the biggest problem is being locked out modification. I can’t see why 2020 could not develop ways to let us modify units in a way that the manufactures is aware and it is not a huge issues.
    I am currently looking to see if I can find design software associated with the cad/cam side of things where I can convert the DXF files from those plate forms to a design catalog and dump 2020 and the Manufactures catalog developer all together. This kind of tension should never exists between player in an industry. We should all be on the same side. We all want to succeed. I don’t get it.

    1. Crashing wasn’t really a problem for us with 2020/planit, or at least we could often work out the cause of a crash and sidestep the problem in future (Using “arty-image-effect with a mirror in the room == crash? Use a different image effect or don’t put a mirror in).
      I’ve never tried or investigated Revit, but for it to be an option I’d need to know we had accurate data from our suppliers. It might be interesting in the future

      I used to edit catalogues in 2020/Planit, I can’t recall which version but there were a set of scripts and a small program tool that allowed the data file to be edited/created. That also allowed edits to the 3D objects and creation of new ones, though that wasn’t a small undertaking as you had to understand the code that created an object which was like a programming language in it’s own right. What I had working really well was a routine that exported pricing data from our business system then imported it into a new catalogue in 2020/Planit once a month so I could do all my pricing in 2020/Planit.

      As a point of reference our current software (compusoft winner) also has it’s issues. In some areas the catalogues are better but in others inadequate. For example it’s woefully short of 3D objects that make pictures look realistic or help customers visualise our proposed solution. We get around these issues, but they’re annoying. However, all of these are still faster and more cost effective (for our business) in using the manufacturer/software supplied catalogues than using Sketchup (or I assume Revit) where we’d have to build every cabinet ourselves, set the colour, make it look pretty, add the price, and change it all every 12 months when new prices lists come out.

      “This kind of tension should never exists between player in an industry. We should all be on the same side. We all want to succeed.”

      I agree

      ” I don’t get it.”

      I believe this is a result of the market deciding the retailers are willing to pay for software and the manufacturers are willing to pay for software, so both become customers of the software provider.

  7. Very interesting article. I was thinking to buy 2020 Fusion, and after reading your post, I will stay away from it.

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Have you found an alternative in your market that can better meet your needs?

      If the data catalogues were kept up to date for the furniture manufacturers we used then we’d have still be using 2020 Fusion. Maybe for New Zealand (based on your email address) Fusion has better manufacturer support.
      We moved to Compusoft Winner so have gained far superior catalogue catalogue data but lost the ability to create accurate and unique pieces of furniture in the plans (Winner have very poor import/export functions, whereas planit was excellent for importing from Sketchup, 3DS Max and other formats).

      I wouldn’t rule out Fusion on my experience alone and I’d suggest all business software systems have an element of compromise and irritation associated.

  8. Hi all just wanted to comment and say thank you for all the information very useful, we were looking to use Cabinet Vision (Planit) but after reading and hearing similar things from users we decided to opt for Autokitchen which is Autocad based. Have only been using it a few weeks so might be too early to say for sure but it seems to do everything Cabinet Vision does for half (if not a third) of the price. The catalogues of misc. items are huge, chairs, beds, coffee makers, sofas you name it there are hundreds if not thousands to choose from. The rendering engine is also as good as, if not better than, Cabinet Visions ‘PhotoVision 32’ from what I can tell.

    If anyone has used/is using Cabinet Vision or Autokitchen I would love to know your opinions 🙂

  9. Super helpful article thank you. I used Compusoft Winner as well – the renderings are great, but I also found that the decore is awful for staging. They also don’t keep catalog updates on all the lines that we carry.
    I’m considering Fusion 2020, but it’s the same issue. The lines we carry are only in French, and the catalogs are not updated – it’s a problem.
    Not sure what to do. I cancelled our Winner subscription because it didn’t have all of our catalogs, and it’s $600 per month. Fusion may be only option now, unless anyone has others?
    My top priority is to quickly create very good 3D renderings to sell jobs. Next is a revision process that is not cumbersome. Last is price. My idea was to use other manufacturer’s catalogs with Fusion 2020 if they don’t have my own – there’s so much overlap in European cabinetry.
    Generating invoices is at the bottom of my list, but having an accurate materials list would be nice.

    1. > that the decore is awful for staging.

      Yes! The biggest weakness by far we’ve found with Compusoft Winner is the inability to import or export 3D objects. In Planit if I needed to show an ironing board I’d find a [open source/free/make my own] trimble/sketchup object and import it. With Winner that’s not possible. I mention ironing board as they only ironing board object is a standing version and I couldn’t even rotate it vertically to show one stowed away.

      > They also don’t keep catalog updates on all the lines that we carry.

      Yes, I find the software usefulness is entirely reliant on the manufacturers supporting and paying for their catalogues to be kept up to date. For one of our suppliers (a german company) we see updates and fixes every few weeks and have the ability to select an object in winner and be taken to their dealer web site for full technical detail of that item – it’s amazing and a joy to design with knowing it won’t let you select accessories incompatible with the drawer box option you’ve already chosen. For another smaller supplier we no longer bother to report data errors because things are never fixed. I’m pretty sure the small manufacturer either doesn’t see the value of paying for data updates or is being outpriced by Winner/Planit’s charges for doing those updates.

      > My top priority is to quickly create very good 3D renderings to sell jobs. Next is a revision process that is not cumbersome. Last is price. My idea was to use other manufacturer’s catalogs with Fusion 2020 if they don’t have my own – there’s so much overlap in European cabinetry. Generating invoices is at the bottom of my list, but having an accurate materials list would be nice.

      I think the software option is best lead by the manufacturers you’re using and who they choose to support. We still have to use different design software for kitchens vs bathrooms and whilst i’d love to have just one software tool in my business I’ve yet to see one that has good enough catalogues in all areas we need. I’d have moved us onto Sketchup but the speed gains from the catalogues our industry’s software still outweighs both the cost savings and the flexibility Sketchup can offer. I’d say;
      * if your manufacturer supports a design program, look there first
      * if they don’t and you just need pictures and bill of material lists, then either
      * a) stick with design software that you’re used to and accept imperfections of a generic catalogue
      * b) or invest a great deal of time learning more open tools like Sketchup and building your own workflow and shortcuts.
      both approaches leave you having to build/run your own pricing system.

      If you’re interested email me directly and I’ll tell you the good and bad of our German (trade only) supplier – their integration with Winner has been exceptional (I’m told that’s normal for the German manufacturers, but it’s very refreshing from my past experience plus has accurate pricing built in). For all I know they’re just as good on 2020/Planit and I know they ship internationally.

      1. Thank you Steve, I sent you an email. As you say, there are no perfect solutions – but your advice about letting the individual manufacturers dictate which software to go with is solid, and it really helps clarify things for me.

  10. Hi Steve

    Excellent blog.
    You make many valid points particularly on bespoke catalogue creation and editing.
    Fusion V7 has moved on quite a bit in the last year and is now a much better all round piece of software in terms of photo realism and performance (speed). I’m not sure whether you have given up your Fusion licence or not, however, I am a freelance catalogue editor and if you require any assistance or help with new or existing catalogues, I would be happy to help.

    Cheers, Paul

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