Should You Move to the IT Department?27 Aug, 2014 By: Robert Green
The requirements of modern software tools mean that CAD managers must work closely with IT — but just how closely?
In recent years, CAD programs have become increasingly dependent on networks, remote servers, and cloud infrastructure — in other words, CAD is a more IT-driven application than it used to be. And as a result, CAD managers must work more closely with IT departments to make CAD software run well.
As these trends accelerate, I've started to ask, "Should CAD managers be treated as part of the IT department?" In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll start a discussion on the topic and help you determine whether you should make the move to IT. Here goes.
One thing that has not changed over time is that most CAD managers are designers, engineers, architects, or other technical discipline workers who have evolved into CAD managers. The typical CAD manager didn't start out as a computer guru, but rather grew into the position as his or her CAD expertise matured and the situation demanded it. Therefore, most CAD managers I talk to still report through an engineering manager, production manager, architectural director, or other technical management branch of the company — it is rare that they report through the IT department. As a result, many CAD managers have zero IT capability or permissions.
One thing that is different nowadays is that a CAD manager must be more IT savvy, or must more heavily on the IT department than before. Could it be that CAD managers should now be part of the IT department, or at least have all the power and permissions of an IT staff member? Could being a member of the IT staff better help us make IT-reliant CAD tools run better? How can the CAD manager determine the answer to these questions?
Which IT Tools Do You Need?
Whether you're working under the IT department or not, it pays to beef up your IT skills. After all, the more you know, the better you can converse with your IT counterparts, and the more quickly you'll be able to solve complex CAD/IT-related issues. But which IT skills do CAD managers really need? To answer that question, read through the following list and answer each question with a Yes, No, or Sometimes response:
1. Network admin tasks: Create user accounts and user groups, assign network permissions to users and groups, share and configure network peripherals, etc. While your IT department may perform these tasks, you need to understand how they work so you can either tell IT what you need or do it yourself.
Diagnostic question no. 1: Do you often experience problems with your CAD tools because of incorrect network permissions or network peripheral issues?
2. Peripheral management: The ability to reset printers/plotters, clear out document queues, configure device defaults, etc., is something every CAD manager should have.
Diagnostic question no. 2: Do you often find yourself waiting for IT intervention to get a printer or plotter back up and running?
3. Data archiving and backup: The ability to store, find, and recover data is key for disaster avoidance and recovery. The ability to comb through old projects to find hidden nuggets of information from similar projects executed years ago can also save tons of time. Learning to use your company's backup and restoration IT procedures could prove to be a lifesaver.
Diagnostic question no. 3: Do you ever find yourself waiting long periods of time to recover or find archived information due to IT delays?
4. Software updates: To the extent that CAD software requires administrative permission for updates, the CAD manager should have the authority and knowledge to manage the process. This includes the ability to create software deployments and deliver automatic updates via user login and group membership. CAD managers who don't have IT authority to do this are at a disadvantage during upgrade and service pack installations.
Diagnostic question no. 4: Do you experience major problems getting upgrades and service packs deployed due to your lack of IT authority?
5. Wide-area network (WAN) management: When companies use CAD tools across WAN connections to branch offices, the CAD manager is called upon to resolve problems at these remote locations. CAD managers need access to remote network servers, and permissions to perform all manner of functions on any servers where CAD work is performed.
Diagnostic question no. 5: Do you experience major problems getting upgrades and service packs deployed due to lack of IT authority?
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!