CAD Manager's Newsletter (#251)

18 Nov, 2010 By: Robert Green

:: Prove Your Worth!

Quantify your value as a CAD manager by calculating your own personal ROI.

The findings of my CAD Manager's 2010 Survey left me a bit upset over how much economic power and authority CAD managers have lost during the recession. I think it's time to re-articulate how important it is for CAD managers to prove their financial worth and raise their credibility with senior management teams.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll explain how to emphasize your true value to your company by using return on investment (ROI) concepts. I know of no better way for a CAD manager to prove how much he or she is worth. Here goes.

Return on Investment

How many of you know what your return on investment (ROI) is? For that matter, how many of you know that your ROI is essentially a measure of your economic value to your company? I've been asking this question for years when I speak to groups of CAD managers, and I can only recall about 10 hands going up out of thousands of attendees. On the other hand, almost all department-level managers can give you a pretty good idea of their financial performance and ROI levels when asked.

So why would CAD managers want to compute their own ROI? The answer lies in the following questions: "What does a CAD manager do?" "Why do we need one?" Ever heard these questions? Ever had trouble answering them?

Wouldn't it be great to respond like this: "Last year I spent 50% of my time working on a variety of tasks including standards implementation, CAD software automation, and targeted training programs that reduced project costs, and I handled several major projects in-house instead of using outside resources. These tasks generated $135,000 in savings which, based on 50% of my salary, generated a 270% ROI for the company."

The ROI Glossary

So how did the CAD manager in the scenario above come by those numbers? How can you compute your own ROI? First, you need to understand the following terms:

Annualized savings. The total of all the man-hours saved due to a corrective action you've taken. For example, if you lead the effort to implement a plotting routine that saves each of your 40 CAD users (who earn $30/hour) two hours per month, you'll realize $28,800 in labor savings over the next year. (To find that total, multiply 40 users X 2 hours per month X $30 per hour X 12 months.) Remember that credit for this savings belongs to you, because if you hadn't done the work the savings would never be realized. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Shake Up Your Brain

Spend a little time on preparation, and you'll learn new technical information more quickly and easily.

I don't know about you, but there are times when I find myself in a mental rut and realize that I need to branch out to expand my skill set. The problem is that knowing you need to learn new skills and actually doing so aren't the same thing.

I've found a few tips that have helped me get my brain into learning mode, so I thought I'd share them with you:

Change your schedule. Shake up your daily timetable so you're not repeating the same old routine every day. It seems like getting out of my schedule rut has made it easier to get out of my mental rut as well.

Get some exercise. I've found that it really does make the brain more receptive to cognitive processes such as reading.

Read (or listen, or watch) while you sweat. If you have access to a treadmill, stair machine, or elliptical trainer, prop up your book (or Kindle or iPad) and read through the material (or watch a podcast) while you work out. You'll get healthier and smarter while saving time: win, win, win! Read more »


Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

COMSOL Conference CD Compiles Multiphysics Modeling Information
Multiphysics modeling software provider COMSOL is offering a free COMSOL Conference CD comprising more than 650 slideshows, animations, and papers from users of COMSOL Multiphysics. Topics include actuators, sensors, and resonators; surface acoustic wave devices; piezoelectric devices; magnetostrictive devices; and microfluidics.

Spatial Releases Service Pack for ACIS and 3D InterOp
Spatial, a provider of 3D development components for design, manufacturing, and engineering applications, has made its latest service pack release — R21 SP2 of 3D ACIS Modeler and 3D InterOp Translators — available for download. R21 SP2 introduces the support for CATIA V5TranslateInWorkObject, Parasolid v23 files, and Siemens NX7.5 files.

Expert CAD Manager book by Robert Green

:: Events

Webinar: Better Front-End Planning for Capital Projects
November 30, 2010
11 a.m. ET
At this complimentary webinar presented by FIATECH, attendees can learn how the right tools can mitigate project risk, monitor progress, and improve collaboration, translating into cost savings. Read more »

AeroDef Manufacturing Exposition
April 5–7, 2011
Anaheim, California
SME's AeroDef Manufacturing exposition will address the way commercial and military aircraft are designed, developed, and produced, and emphasize technologies that trim delivery times and control costs. Key technologies and materials to be showcased at the event include automation, ceramics, finishing and coatings, micro- and nano-technology, sensors/RFID, assembly and joining, and machining and metal fabrication. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference (RTC) 2011, North America
June 23–25, 2011
Huntington Beach, California
Having run in Australia for the past 6 years, the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) will hold its inaugural event in North America in 2011. RTC is an independent conference covering all things Revit: building information modeling and the whole ecosystem that supports it. Read more »


For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

How Can Apparel Companies Use 3D Software to Streamline Sample Development?
By replacing physical samples with digital models, clothing companies can save money, speed product development, and give buyers a better understanding of their products. Read more »

Avatech Tricks Tutorial: Scaling Images in Autodesk Inventor
You can use a 2D image as the basis of your next 3D model, but only if you know how to adjust the image to full scale. Read more »

Equip Your Workforce for Success on the Road
Managing a mobile CAD staff means more than buying laptops. Arm yourself with this checklist of essentials. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use any augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) technologies in your workflow?
Not yet, but we are planning to implement it.
No, but we think these technologies could hold value for us.
No; these technologies do not hold value for us.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition