Enhance User Communication During Upgrades

9 May, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Reaching out to users can make them feel more positive about new CAD software — and a free lunch helps, too.

This user tip about managing the upgrade process comes from Chris Askins, senior technician at Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group. I hope it inspires you to turn the challenging upgrade process into something your users can have a little fun with while they learn.

"We are conducting a full-scale upgrade to AutoCAD Civil 3D at the moment, so all the e-mail our CAD managers send to users reinforces company standards or invites users to attend a lunchtime training seminar. Sometimes these e-mails can come across as preachy or abrasive, but for good reason, as standards do matter.

"What we have done to lighten the mood is create lunchtime CAD resource meetings; we provide food and talk about the cool tricks and positive aspects of CAD for an hour. During these meetings, we spotlight a recent project that used CAD in unique ways, or proved to be an efficient way to complete a task. We give each of our five offices an opportunity to tell us their CAD status, and we ask if they are experiencing any problems.

"More than anything else, these meetings are really an effort to improve communication between offices. We also give users the opportunity to vent and gripe about CAD, but the rule is that if you complain, you have to offer a suggestion to fix the problem. We also make sure that we do not chastise anyone if improper work methods are discovered during our meetings; instead, we use that opportunity to gather information about where we need to focus our standards and training.

"We have received great feedback on these meetings, and we are increasing the frequency as a result. This has been a great way to sell the Civil 3D upgrade to all CAD users and non-users, while giving us the chance to show how fun CAD can be. Sometimes when all you do is train people who have a negative attitude toward CAD, you get burnt out, and you tend to forget how cool and powerful the software can be. These meetings are allowing us to change our company's attitude about CAD."

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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