Seven Pitfalls to Avoid as You Transition to 3D Modeling
10 Jul, 2013
By: Robert Green
You've heard plenty about what to do when moving from 2D CAD to 3D and building information modeling. Now it's time to learn what not to do.
Do Not Forget the Hardware Updates
Modern software tools require modern hardware: It's a fact that's often overlooked. Many times, in small architects' offices, I find the users are still running a dual-core Dell 8200 with 32-bit Windows XP. This machine can't even run AutoCAD very well, but these professionals actually expect to create BIM models on it! I know that many of you have good hardware and network systems and can't believe the situation I'm describing but, trust me, it is out there.
Three-dimensional models are just plain bigger than 2D — they require more memory, a 64-bit operating system, bigger hard drives, and faster network transport. Modern software tools running on a six-year-old computer better suited to be a boat anchor won't run well, if at all; it's a waste of everyone's time.
Rule of thumb: If your company won't commit to modernizing hardware, you might as well forget about transitioning from 2D to 3D/BIM.
Do Not Expect That Everyone Will Like It
Believe me, they won't! My experience has shown that a portion of your staff will love working in 3D, most will accept it (with varying rates of speed), and some will simply hate it. It is this last group that is most troublesome.
My strategy has always been to prove the naysayers wrong by bringing along the early adopters first, then holding them up as an example. A sample conversation goes like this:
Naysayer: "I really hate using BIM; I was faster on AutoCAD."
CAD Manager: "Everybody was faster on AutoCAD until they learned how to use our BIM tools correctly."
Naysayer: "BIM just doesn't work. It is too hard to use, and I can't complete projects with it."
CAD Manager: "That's strange, because the other 15 people in the department are able to get their work done on BIM."
This leads me to my next point ...
Do Not Train Everybody at Once
In order to make the arguments above, you'll need to break your users into several training groups. Always start by training your ace users — those who are most willing to learn — so they can conduct your first 3D projects. After training the first wave, train the remaining teachable users, and save the naysayers for last. This way, you'll be able to confront the naysayers with concrete evidence.
Rule of thumb: Train your best and brightest first, and get them to work on projects right away; then keep going until you've trained everybody who is willing to learn. If this takes years, so be it.
Do Not Assume Senior Management Understands
Every warning I've articulated in this article must be communicated to your senior management staffs. It is imperative that you not be held to unrealistic expectations, timelines, or budgets because management believes inflated claims of how easy 3D/BIM will be.
Rule of thumb: Only you can communicate to senior management. Do so — or face the consequences.
It's hard enough to navigate through the process of implementing BIM/3D systems even when you plan everything perfectly, but it is almost impossible if you make unforced errors. By following my advice about what not to do, you'll steer clear of needless mistakes and reach 3D nirvana far sooner.
What mistakes have you made in your 3D implementations that you'd counsel your fellow CAD managers to avoid? Let me know, so I can share them! Until next time.