Product Design

CAD Manager's Q&A: Succeeding with 3D, Part 3

13 Mar, 2007 By: Robert Green

We're rolling out 3D software in my company now and users are coming around to the new way of design. What kinds of items should I be concerned about now and how can I avoid making post-implementation errors in this new 3D world?

Robert Green replies: I started the answer to this question in the February 14 edition and continued in the February 28 edition of CAD Manager's Newsletter. I'll further expand on my answer now with some ideas for managing the inevitable staff changes that happen during and after 3D implementation.

When you finally reach the culmination of your 3D software implementation you'll notice that some things have changed with respect to your CAD staff. You may have been too busy during implementation to see the changes, but they happened, trust me.  Below are some of my coping strategies that have always worked well.

Embrace positive changes. If you have a new set of 3D power users emerge after implementation, that's great -- go with it! I've found that the surest way to derail a 3D implementation is to try to make your 3D workplace the same as your 2D workplace. After all, if some new faces turn out to be your best and brightest 3D users, why would you not want to reward their effort, knowledge and positive attitude for change. You did implement 3D to change your approach to design, right?

Face up to negative changes. Do you now have some former 2D power users who don't see the benefit of the change? Do you have naysayers who argue that they can do everything better with their old software? If you do, you can bet they are talking to management and spreading the doom and gloom. I can't give you a magic formula to make the issue go away, but I can tell you that facing up to the negatives via conversation, persuasion and dialogue with your management will make dealing with the issues easier. The key is to work through the issues with a can-do attitude rather than ignoring the issues and hoping they'll go away.

Ride the wave. Now that you're up and running with 3D, don't stop doing lunch-and-learns or best practices meetings. Don't stop evangelizing on the benefits of 3D, and never stop looking for better ways to do things. It took your company years to optimize 2D CAD, so it stands to reason that getting your 3D environment tweaked will take some time too.

I believe that maximizing your investment in 3D software requires diligent follow-up once the initial implementation is completed. By managing the changes in your staff (both plus and minus) and continuing to push for constant improvement, you'll cement the psychological shift to 3D into your design culture and really start to reap the productivity rewards that 3D methodologies have to offer.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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