Level Up: Become a CAD Power User1 Dec, 2015 By: Curt Moreno
All CAD users need a workplace guru they can rely on. With these ten simple tips — and some dedicated effort — you can become that person.
Here's a scenario that every CAD user has encountered: You're at the office, working hard to get a project out the door before the deadline. Then you run into an unexpected problem. Maybe you can't get a component of your drawing to work as it should, or your rendering is not coming out the way you expected. Perhaps it's something as common as the printer acting up again.
Whatever the issue is, you need help — and you need it right away. Hopefully, you have a power user nearby that you can turn to.
What Is a Power User?
In the technical world, users of CAD and other technologies can be envisioned as a sort of pyramid, with a large population of neophytes at the bottom that narrows as experience and expertise increase. At the top of this pyramid are the power users: an elite group of workplace superheroes whose knowledge and experience enable them to be more productive and efficient than the average user, and also to assist others.
Being a power user does not necessarily mean that you hold a special job title. In fact, it is quite often the opposite. Whereas official titles and positions are determined by your company's management, the unofficial title of power user is bestowed organically. Through a natural determination of who needs help and who can provide it, the CAD production staff (or any other work group) learns who is the best choice to call upon when a member of the group needs assistance. Simply put, a power user (sometimes known as a super user) is the person everyone turns to for help.
Doing More and Getting More
On the surface, it may seem that there is no benefit to being a power user. Helping others can be a full-time job, and you already have one of those! In addition, being a power user does not necessarily translate into a more desirable position or better pay. So why would anyone want to take on this role?
The reality is that being a power user is a byproduct of a person's natural (or developed) aptitude and desire to master a process, a piece of software, or some other aspect of their work. Simply by being the sort of person who works to master a task, the nascent power user has begun the process of self-selection. As this type of user progresses and amasses more knowledge and experience, his or her reputation as a reliable resource grows, making a power user a valuable resource in any workplace — and therein lies a chief benefit.
On a very simple level, power users produce more value than their peers, as a result of their expanded wealth of knowledge in a certain area. They are better able to utilize the tools provided by their employer, and therefore are more productive than less-experienced coworkers who are using the same tools.
But the value proposition goes further: A power user is also a force multiplier. A single power user can raise the level of output in any group of workers with an average skill set by providing peer support, encouragement, and training. This helps everyone in the work group to be more productive, efficient, and innovative.
However, don't think that this is all a one-way stream of value. The power user earns recognition, appreciation, and satisfaction from helping others. Power users also commonly enjoy the benefits of advancement and promotion, as well as job security. Almost all employers are willing to invest more in a power user in terms of wages and benefits, since the added productivity they encourage brings added value to the company. In addition to money, employers are also often more willing to purchase better tools if the power user requests them. New software, faster computers, and expanded ranges of plotters and printers are assets employers are willing to invest in to support increased production.
Naturally, those are things that benefit the entire production staff, thus further elevating production and the standing of the power user. It's quite the positive cycle — and it all begins with the power user.
Who Can Become a Power User?
Some people think that power users are born, not made, but that's not the whole story. The truth of the matter is that it takes hard work and persistence to become an expert in a given subject area, even if you're naturally gifted in a particular discipline.
The good news is that there are no secret societies to join or handshakes to learn; all you have to do is take advantage of the opportunities given to you. Here are ten simple ways to get started.
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!