CAD Manager's Newsletter (#294)

9 Jan, 2013 By: Robert Green

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Improve CAD Production Quality by Annoying Your Users, Part 1

If the "carrot" of reward doesn't elicit the response you're looking for, carefully chosen annoyances can serve as the "stick" that improves employee behavior.

Have you ever been annoyed by quality problems in your CAD processes? I'm talking about such issues as people not following standards, files stored in the wrong directories, users shirking their training sessions, project managers who choose to ignore processes in the name of productivity, and the like. Would you like to be rid of these annoyances?

In this installment of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll start giving you some strategies for doing just that, using an approach that uses annoyance itself to help you end the annoyance of quality problems. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade! Here goes.

Shift the Problem to the Perpetrator

During the holiday break, I read a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan that advocates the use of annoyance as a management strategy to help employees focus their efforts and improve quality. Although the article isn't CAD-specific, it did make me think about what a profound motivator annoyance can be, and how it could be used to bring standards violators and other CAD troublemakers into line.

Fisman and Sullivan recommend that managers channel the consequences of workplace errors to the person who caused the error, rather than dealing with the problem themselves. One example they cited was the travel web site Kayak's use of annoyance to improve the usability of their site. The site lists the phone number of the web development team as the technical support contact. So when a user encounters a problem with the web site, who gets the call? The people who program the site! Rather than having annoyed customers unloading on a tech support agent who then tries to communicate the concern to the web development team, the programmers themselves get to hear directly from those who are experiencing the problem. The customers' annoyance becomes the web development team's annoyance!

Brilliant, right? But how, I wondered, can we apply this concept to CAD management? As in the Kayak case above, I wanted to make the people who cause the CAD problems deal with fixing the problem. I came up with a way to do just that, by using a variety of diagnostic and management tools — and I dubbed it annoyance transfer. Read more »

:: Take Stock of Your IT Assets

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Inventory the tools that your users currently work with so that you can reliably forecast future requirements.

Do you know exactly how many computers you support? Or how many licenses of software you have around the enterprise? If not, make it a New Year's resolution to take stock of what you have.

You may think your IT department has all this information already, but I've been very surprised over the years to learn just how little many IT departments know about the CAD licenses, processors, RAM, and graphics cards in use at users' desks. And if you don't know and the IT department doesn't know, how will anyone know how to budget for updates, upgrades, and subscriptions this year, or next?

At minimum, consider taking inventory of the following computer/CAD resources at each user's desk:

  • Processor architecture (dual, quad, etc.) and clock
  • RAM and disk resources
  • Graphics card type and RAM
  • Monitor size(s) and resolution(s)
  • Software licenses and versions.

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

Free PTC Ebook Offers CAD File Sharing Solutions
According to a new ebook, Multi-CAD Data, Unified Design, a recent survey found the biggest problems for team members working on CAD models occur in importing and modifying data from other design tools. Author Chad Jackson identifies three tools that can facilitate working with imported files. CAD users can register to download the free book from PTC.

:: Events

Let's Go Design: Machinery and Industrial Equipment
January 14, 2013
2 p.m. ET
This hour-long webcast from Fisher/Unitech will demonstrate how SolidWorks helps users fulfill the unique needs of the machine design industries. Read more »

Documenting Products with 3DVIA Composer
January 17, 2013
10 a.m. ET
This Fisher/Unitech webcast will show viewers how to create up-to-date documentation from engineering models. Read more »

Product Innovation 2013
February 19–20, 2013
Berlin, Germany
Product Innovation (PI) 2013 is an event at the nexus of R&D, engineering, and IT that provides insight into product information creation, development, and management. PI 2013 builds on the PLM Innovation Congress, and brings it together with developments and applications in CAD, CAE, and simulation. 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

Mouse Wheel Tips for AutoCAD Users
You use the wheel on your mouse all the time for panning and zooming — but do you know everything you can do with the mouse wheel? Join Lynn as she shares a myriad of mouse wheel tips that will put you on the road to instant productivity! Watch the video »

Autodesk Bestows Expert Elite Status on Cadalyst Contributing Editor
R.K. McSwain, who shares his expertise with other Autodesk software users via online forums, receives newly created honor. Read more »

Create 3D Sketches from 2D Sketches in Autodesk Inventor
IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Combine two 2D sketches to generate the geometry for a 3D sketch, or use one sketch and an existing surface. Read more »

Autodesk and the Cloud, Part 3: Experts Take Aim at Cloud Stereotypes
At Autodesk University 2012, speakers claim that cloud technology can work for large enterprises — and concerns about data security need not be a roadblock. Read more »

Protect Sensitive Data With Easy, Secure Data Image Overwrite for Your Large Format Devices
Data-sensitive environments are no longer limited to defense agencies, power generation firms, and related contractors, but include any enterprise that places a high value on its intellectual property. Read the CADspeed blog post »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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