CAD Manager's Newsletter (#292)

14 Nov, 2012 By: Robert Green

When Should You Replace Old Hardware and Software?

The cost of replacing outdated tools is substantial, and management often uses it as a reason to delay upgrades. But you're also paying a price by continuing to rely on those clunkers.

One conversation I have with many CAD managers — more than you'd think — goes like this:

"We run [fill in software name here] version [fill in the year] on seven-year-old computers, because my boss says everything works fine and he doesn't want to pay for anything newer. How can I convince my boss to update our tools?"

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll address this all-too-frequent problem from financial, staffing, and marketing perspectives by relating actual client stories and drawing conclusions as we go. Here goes.

Acknowledge the Objections

Because old software or hardware is still in use, senior managers often see no need to replace it — they think, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The phrases I've heard management teams repeat over and over when defending the continuing use of old software and computers include:

  • The old tool works fine.
  • We've always done it the old way.
  • New hardware costs lots of money.
  • New software will require investing training time as well as money.
  • New software requires customization.
  • We're busy; we don't have time to implement updates.
  • We don't want to pay upgrade fees.

My immediate response to all these objections might surprise you: Every one of them is right, to an extent. The thinking CAD manager will acknowledge that management has a point, and that it simply wants to limit spending in any way it can. However, if we never swapped out our old tools, we'd still be using pencils on drafting boards! So it's really not a question of if you should upgrade, but when.

You'll need to answer the inevitable management questions, "How old is too old?" and "How do we know when to change to the newer version?" with some degree of authority. To do so, you'll have to spend some time evaluating your own company's circumstances. You can also use the following real-life examples to illustrate that sometimes, choices that seem like they save money really don't. Read more »

:: Get More Information from Your CAD Users

CAD Manager's Toolbox: There are some things that we adults can learn from a three-year-old — and one of those is the power of asking, "Why?"

Ever been around a three-year-old child who doesn't understand how something works? If so, you know that he or she will ask you "Why?" over and over and over again. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Child: Why is the sky blue?
Adult: Because atmosphere refracts sunlight to look blue.
Child: Why?
Adult: Because that's how Rayleigh scattering works.
Child: Why?
Adult: Because sunlight contains lot of colors, including blue. When it shines through the air, those colors get scattered around, and the blue is what reaches your eyes.
Child: Ohhh.

Three-year-olds keep asking "Why?" until they understand, at some level, why the sky is blue, or why ice is cold, or why dogs walk on four legs. They're not satisfied by pat answers, and they certainly don't accept a bunch of techno-babble. They simply keep asking until they get to the bottom of things.

It may seem annoying to the person on the other end of the conversation, but this approach can be useful with adults, as well. You can use the power of "Why?" to better understand your CAD management problems. 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

Intergraph's Free Plant Design Solution Now Compatible with AutoCAD 2013
Intergraph, a provider of engineering and geospatial software, has released an updated version of CADWorx DraftPro that provides full compatibility with AutoCAD 2013. CADWorx DraftPro is a free, AutoCAD-based, specification-driven 2D plant design and layout solution. Users can generate components as they are needed, draw elevations and sections of layouts, and produce customizable bills of materials.

FISHER/UNITECH Offers Free Upgrade with SolidWorks Purchase
FISHER/UNITECH, a reseller of SolidWorks CAD software, is offering a free upgrade with the purchase of SolidWorks software, resulting in savings of up to $5,000. The SolidWorks Core version is upgraded to Professional, Professional to Premium, and Premium to Simulation Professional. The promotion ends November 30, 2012.

:: Events

Autodesk University 2012
November 27–29, 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University (AU), a conference and exhibition for Autodesk product users, will bring together design and technology professionals for networking, exhibits, innovation forums, and a new curriculum of more than 800 lectures, roundtable sessions, and hands-on labs. Read more »

SolidWorks World 2013
January 20–23, 2013
Orlando, Florida
SolidWorks attendees can choose from more than 200 technical breakout sessions; network with other SolidWorks users, solution partners, resellers, and SolidWorks employees; and explore the latest in 3D design and technology, offered by more than 100 exhibitors in the SolidWorks Partner Pavilion. Read more »

RTC 2013 Australasia
May 16–18, 2013
Auckland, New Zealand
At the ninth Australasian Revit Technology Conference (RTC), attendees will be able to learn from some of the world's top instructors and industry experts, share ideas and insights with an international community, and explore the latest trends and technologies. 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

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 4:
Processor, Video Card, RAM, and Hard Drive

So far in this series, I've discussed how to determine if your hardware can handle the AutoCAD 2013 upgrade, how to outline your current and future needs, and how to find new hardware if you decide it's time for a new system. If you are looking for new hardware for AutoCAD 2013, here are some specific components to look at closely. Read the CADspeed blog post »

Are You an AutoCAD Expert?
If you think you are an AutoCAD expert, you might want to turn off some of the annoying prompts that can come between you and your designs. Join Lynn Allen as she takes you through the Expert system variable and shows you how to turn off those bubbles that appear in the AutoCAD tray. Watch the video »

The CAD Communicator
User Profile: Paul Munford believes that CAD is a great communication tool — but before you can use that tool effectively, you must understand the needs of your customers. Read more »

Customization Options Expand for AutoCAD WS
Autodesk releases new API that enables users to open the CAD drawing editor from a mobile application. Read more »

Seek and Ye Shall Find: Quickly Locate AutoCAD Files That Contain Specific Entities
Learning Curve tutorial: AutoLISP routine makes short work of an otherwise arduous task. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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