CAD Manager's Newsletter (#346)

24 Jun, 2015 By: Robert Green

The Proactive Power of Surveying Your Users

Get your users' input and give yourself a chance to solve problems before they become crises.


As CAD managers, we all have to deal with users reporting problems that we must fix. However, many of us labor at fixing these same problems day after day without making progress toward eliminating the root causes of those problems. So my question to you is: How can we get to the bottom of what is really causing our users' problems and fix them for good?

In this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I will make the case that surveying your users can be the best way to find out what's troubling them, what the root causes might be, and how to prioritize those problems. Here goes.

What's Bugging You?

If you ask CAD users what their problems are, they will usually respond with whatever is bugging them at that moment. And as they tell you, they will emphasize why the problem is annoying to them — typically because it causes more work for them — without giving much thought to why the situation occurs. Our job, therefore, is to ask the users what their problems are, and encourage them to elaborate on exactly why they are experiencing the problem. As an example, here's a conversation I recently had with a frustrated AutoCAD user:

Me: "I understand from a project manager that you're having problems creating PDF files for construction document sets. What's the issue?"

User: "Some of my annotation and dimensioning text is missing when others open the PDF files that I create. Nobody else has this problem. It just doesn't work on my machine."

"So what are you doing to get rid of the problem?"

"We have one of the users in the mechanical area open the files and create PDFs for them at project wrap-up."

"Let's have a look at your machine."Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Recommended Reading for CAD Managers: Rework

I like reading business books that provide an alternate views of how to work — especially those written by authors who don't work in CAD-based industries. Rework (by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson) is one such book.

Written for an audience of independent team leaders, entrepreneurs, and those aspiring to work more on their own, this book is briskly written in modular sections that translate surprisingly well for technical leadership positions such as CAD management.


Read more »

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


:: Resources

Theorem Solutions Offers Downloadable 3D CAD Data Webinar
Theorem Solutions announced that its 30-minute webinar, "Making 3D CAD Data Accessible with 3D PDF," is now available for download to users who register. The webinar discusses the company's Publish 3D suite, which reportedly can make 3D CAD data more accessible by creating interactive PDF files containing embedded 3D representations of native 3D CAD data.

REAL 2015 Presentations Available Online
The organizers of REAL 2015 — an Autodesk-sponsored summit held last February on the professional and maker applications of 3D sensing, making, and visualization technologies — have made the event's presentations available online via the organization's website. These presentations discuss the use of 3D technology in a variety of industries, including art, architecture, engineering, entertainment, heritage preservation, health, manufacturing, media, sports, and science.

SmarTech Publishes Metal-Based Additive Manufacturing Presentation
SmarTech Markets Publishing, an industry analyst firm for the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector, has published a presentation with a review of the metal additive manufacturing industry in 2015 and a discussion about what is driving its growth. The presentation, titled "Metal Additive Manufacturing Trends," can be downloaded directly as a PDF.


:: Events

Direct Modeling in the PTC Creo 3.0 Parametric Environment
July 2, 2015
1 p.m. PT
This PTC webinar will discuss the use of PTC Creo FMX in a multi-CAD environment, enabling users to handle late-stage design changes and simplify designs for downstream use. Read more »

AVEVA World Summit 2015
October 20–22, 2015
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
AVEVA's international customer conference will provide users with an opportunity to learn about the company's new developments and share their own experiences. Read more »

Capturing Reality
November 23–25, 2015
Salzburg, Austria
Capturing Reality Forum will bring together individuals with a shared interest in 3D imaging and visualization for presentations and an international exhibition of 3D imaging, laser scanning, and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) products and services. Read more »

REAL 2016
March 8–10, 2016
San Francisco, California
This reality computing event, sponsored by Autodesk, will include hands-on opportunities to experience professional 3D sensing, making, and visualization technologies. 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

User Profile: Inventor in Training
Ernesto Mosqueda is always striving to expand his design skills — and to use his growing knowledge to improve everything around him. Read more »

Let AutoCAD Find the Perfect Scale Factor for Your Objects
Join Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Evangelist Lynn Allen as she explains how AutoCAD can figure out the perfect scale factor to get your objects to the desired size. Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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