Conduct a CAD Management Audit8 May, 2013 By: Robert Green
Are you like an overworked logger, too busy felling trees to sharpen your ax? Take the time to stop and think critically about what you're doing — and how you're doing it.
Training. Do you have a user training program? Do you have any training materials for users to peruse on their own? Do you train your users on the proper use of company procedures and standards?
Your responses here predict how well your software use and standards adherence will go. All negative responses indicate a CAD user base that is allowed to do whatever they want, lacks advanced understanding of their software, and has little to no awareness of standards.
- If you don't have a training program, you need one — and now is the time to approach your management team about getting one started!
Support. Is support a recognized/budgeted activity, or something you do "in your spare time" to avoid train wrecks? Do you have enough time to support users well? Do you spend all your time answering the same questions over and over again? Do certain users or departments require more support than others?
Your responses here will indicate how well the need for support is understood within your organization. CAD managers who have no budgeted time for support tend to answer the same questions over and over. CAD managers who do have time to support users typically see repeat problems/questions diminish over time.
I've noted that companies with no training programs tend to have more problems providing support — which makes sense, because training typically reduces the need for support.
- If your audit shows that providing support is a problem, you need to to describe the problem to project managers, senior managers, and anybody else who will listen.
- If your audit shows you answering the same questions over and over, and you don't have a training program in place, make sure your management understands that the two issues are linked — no training means more questions!
Budgeting. Do you have a budget? Does management listen to your recommendations about annual software budgets? Does your IT department solicit your input for hardware and peripheral budgets?
Your responses to these questions will indicate how involved you are with the identification of hardware and software budgeting. If you answered Yes to all these questions, you're in good shape. If you answered No, you are at the mercy of what other people think you need. Any questions you answered in the negative point out where you need to get involved.
- If your audit exposes a "no budget" scenario, you must create the best budget that you can for a one-to-two–year plan. It may not be perfect, but at least you'll start to control your own destiny.
- If your audit shows that you have a budget, but not as thorough a budget as you should, then now is the time to improve it.
- Take budgeting seriously, because it is the only way you can get the tools you need to get the job done.
Prioritize Your Results
I can already hear the question, "What should I do if I have many of these problems?" You must determine which problem is having the greatest effect on productivity and attack it first. The most important problem is not the one you want to solve or the one your users want you to solve, but rather the one that is costing your company the most money in terms of productivity.
If solving your problems requires senior management intervention (in terms of authority or funding), then you'll be able to show them the auditing process you've gone through and the inefficiencies you've identified. Given your preparation and thorough understanding of your operating environment, your senior management is now much more likely to see that fixing CAD management problems is an opportunity to reduce costs.
It is my firm belief that we only get better at something when we evaluate our performance and think critically about our methods. Just as singers must listen to themselves to become better, so must CAD managers audit every aspect of the job periodically and adjust strategies as required.
Now create your own audit checklist and get to work evaluating your own performance, so you can get better at your job. I hope you find the approach as rewarding as I have over the years.
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