CAD Manager's Newsletter (#242)

23 Jun, 2010 By: Robert Green

CAD Management as Overhead

Not everyone agreed with the advice on how to bill CAD management duties during this economy. A project manager's backlash spurs clarification and further advice.

In the last issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I shared my findings that CAD managers who have high rates of overhead (those who are not project-billable) are much more likely to be laid off. I recommended the following coping strategies (loosely paraphrased) for increasing your billable hours and lowering overhead:

  • CAD standards formulation and creation should be billed to the job you're working on.
  • Training users in job-specific standards or procedures should be billed to job kickoff.
  • Efficiency-increasing tasks, such as customization, should be billed to the jobs that benefit from the increased efficiency.

In this issue, I'd like to expand on this topic a bit and share some feedback from a reader who took issue with my recommendations. Here goes.

Scathing Reader Feedback

C.M. from Kansas, a project manager, took me to task for the advice I offered in the previous newsletter. I'll present all of the feedback first, then respond to the various concerns.

"In this last article, I read this: Need to revise CAD standards? Bill the hours to the job you're working on. Need to train users on how to use your standards? Bill the training time to job kickoff. As a project manager, I would fire you on the spot for padding time on a job. CAD management is overhead, and it is dispensable overhead at that."Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox:
Create a Searchable Solution History

Follow this documentation plan, and when problems reappear, you'll remember how to solve them.

How many times have you heard yourself saying the following? "I know I solved that very same problem last year, but I can't remember how I did it!"

I admit that I've found myself in that situation a number of times, but I've also found a good way to create a searchable history document that helps me rediscover the solution. Here's how I tackle the problem, in four simple steps.

Keep a Diary

Simply enter a pithy sentence for each technical task you perform, and save in your preferred word-processing format. Focus on briefly documenting the actions completed, as in these examples:

  • "Reset plotter defaults to stop borders from being clipped off."
  • "Created a login script to automatically set CAD profiles for users."

Read more »

Do you have a helpful tip or item for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Bentley Shares SmartGeometry Generative Design Videos
Bentley Systems has made SmartGeometry 2010 Conference presentations on generative design, along with interviews of key conference participants, available free of charge on its web site. This year's SmartGeometry Conference took place March 23-24 in Barcelona, Spain.

AAMA Launches Redesigned Web Site with Updated Content
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has redesigned its web site, with the goal of increasing ease of navigation for visitors. The site menu navigation now includes menu items for products, materials, codes, and resources, and "hot buttons" throughout the site direct users to frequently accessed pages.

Roland DGA Debuts Live Creative Center Webcam
The Roland DGA Creative Center Gallery, which showcases the work of product designers, jewelry makers, and other creative professionals, can now be viewed online via the company's webcam. Visitors to Roland DGA's web site can view the collection of exhibit items produced on Roland equipment.

:: Events

Webinar: Dynamic Plotting
July 13, 2010
11 a.m. ET
This complimentary webinar is part of an ongoing series on collaboration that discusses Bentley Systems' efforts to integrate information, software, and processes with ProjectWise. Read more »

July 25–29, 2010
Los Angeles, California
SIGGRAPH 2010 — the 37th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques — will comprise technical and creative programs focusing on research, science, art, animation, music, gaming, interactivity, education, and the web. Read more »


For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

First Look Review: Dell Precision M6500 Mobile Workstation
System provides stellar performance and expandability for demanding users on the go. Read more »

Avatech Tricks Tutorial: Track Geometric Points in AutoCAD
Find points in relation to existing geometry without extra geometry. Read more »

Cadalyst Labs Review: ARES Commander Edition
Low-cost 2D/3D CAD software holds promise as an AutoCAD replacement for some, including Mac, Linux, and mobile device users down the road. Read more »


:: About the Author

Cadalyst contributing editor Robert Green performs CAD programming and consulting throughout the United States and Canada. He is the author of Expert CAD Management: The Complete Guide. Reach him via his web site.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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