Product Design

CAD Manager's Q&A: Getting Users On Board for 3D

8 Nov, 2006 By: Robert Green

We've been moving toward using 3D tools for a while, but I've got some users who just won't give up their 2D tools. What can I do to break the logjam?

Robert Green replies: The first thing I'll point out is that in any 2D-to-3D migration, you'll find the following categories of users:

  • Those who adopt 3D right away with enthusiasm (power users)
  • Those who adopt 3D after the power users (most users)
  • Those who try to adopt 3D, yet have trouble learning (just a few)
  • Those who just don't want 3D no matter what (also just a few).

My recommendation is to get the first two categories of users going with 3D tools in a productive fashion before you spend too much time worrying about the latter two categories. Once you get your power users up and running, you'll have some help in performing day-to-day support assistance that will help you get most users on board and productive.

After you've migrated the first two categories of users, you can focus your time and energy on the third category (those having troubles) while extending an offer of help to the fourth category (those who just don't want 3D). By taking this approach you'll concentrate your limited resources on those who want to learn and will accept your help while ensuring that the larger segment of your user base is already online and productive. You will now find yourself managing a functional group of 3D users, plus a stubborn few who refuse to go along.

For the last group of holdouts who have done everything they can to avoid 3D, you can use the following strategies to gain control: 

  • Point out the fact that all other users have made the switch and are now working.
  • Explain that using 3D software is not impossible, because everybody else is using it just fine.
  • Tell them that any excuses like "this software doesn't work" or "I can do this faster in 2D" have been disproven by the success their co-workers are experiencing.
  • Draw the conclusion that, given everyone else's success, the only plausible reason for people not learning 3D at this point is that they simply don't want to learn and/or won't make the effort.

I know this approach may seem blunt, but it's the only way I've found to really deal with the hard-core 3D holdouts. Proving that you have a functional 3D software environment goes a long way toward removing the software from the equation, and transfers attention to the level of user effort being made.

Now you have to take your evidence to management and have a serious conversation about what the company will do with those who simply won't put out the effort to learn. It may be an uncomfortable discussion that may lead to some angry users, but it is a discussion you must have to break the cycle of 3D avoidance. 

Author's note: I've been getting a bunch of 3D questions lately and will use the next few Q&A spots in the CAD manager's newsletter to expand on today's topic, and others of general 3D interest.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green