CAD Manager's Q&A: What's My Function?

9 Aug, 2005 By: Robert Green

Should the CAD manager be an IT (information technology) function or an engineering/architectural function?  Why?

  Before I answer, I have to disclose that I’m a mechanical engineer by background and training who became a CAD manager through tenacity and the school of hard knocks.  Given that,  I probably won’t surprise anybody when I say that I believe CAD management is much more closely aligned with engineering than it is with IT.  My logic is based on a few key conclusions I’ve drawn over the years that seem to have remained true for a long time.

  • The IT department's role is to make computers work and ensure that the computer infrastructure supports the tasks required to make the company productive and profitable.  I’ve rarely seen an IT department that articulates product design or provides innovation in the design process.

  • The CAD manager’s role is to make sure the people working on the computers have a cohesive plan of action that includes standards, best practices and optimal workflow to support the engineering/design innovation process.

To me, CAD management is much more cognizant of how products or buildings are designed, how they can be made better and how CAD software can better support the tasks at hand.  And although CAD managers can and should learn everything they can about IT functions, the primary value they present to the company is that of optimizing the engineering and design processes.  Therefore, I’m forced to conclude that a CAD manager is a better asset to his or her company when nurtured and trained in an engineering/design culture.

Trends such as outsourcing and digital collaboration will make the IT infrastructure in your company more crucial, but infrastructure is worthless if you don’t use it well, right?  Given the choice I'd rather have a CAD manager with a solid engineering background who can learn some IT functions than an IT veteran who doesn’t know engineering/design.

I’m sure I’ve antagonized a few people with this response, and I’m fully ready to consider alternative opinions if you wish to e-mail your comments.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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