CAD Manager's Newsletter (#381)

11 Apr, 2017 By: Robert Green

Your Training Wake-Up Call, Part 1

Don't let trendy issues push essentials to the back burner! Build a training plan that engages users, advances management's goals, and ultimately makes your life easier.

In the CAD management world, there's a lot of attention being paid to the hot-button issues of the moment: cloud software, rental licensing, and increasingly hard-to-understand software cost structures. Yes, these are valid issues, but too much focus on them keeps us from talking about the basic CAD management competencies that we should be spending more time on. It's time for a back-to-basics wakeup call on one of these overlooked fundamentals: training.


In the next two editions of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll give you some of my best tips and techniques for building and running a CAD training program that appeals to everyone, from veteran users to those millennials who just joined your organization. I'll also share some talking points that should help you justify it all to your employees and senior management teams. Here goes.

Why Train Users?

In the first place, why are you taking on training? To save money! Repeat that: To save money! So what will your answer be when your boss asks, "Why should I let you run a training program?" (Hint: To save money!)

But exactly how does training save money? Here are a few savings generators I've found to be remarkably consistent through the years:

  • Teaching and reinforcing standards. Why have standards if you don't teach them? And when you do teach standards, users are more likely to follow them, which is the point of having standards in the first place. Don't simply hope that people follow standards, train them on how to follow standards, and you'll reap the savings of increased operational efficiency.
  • Changing workflows. Need to start using a new software app or extension? Train it. Need to walk through a project procedure for exporting data to a client? Train it. My point is, if the way you work needs to change, then make sure to train everyone affected. Bonus: By thinking through how to train this new workflow, you can build your new standards as you go!
  • Problem solving and error fixing. If several people all make the same sort of mistakes, then you can use training as an intervention tool. You can add a demonstration of the type of errors you've had to fix, comment on how much time and/or money is wasted as a result, then train the users in the proper way to work.
  • Economies of scale. As a CAD manager, you only have so many hours to go around, so it makes sense to share your knowledge with all users at once rather than dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis.
  • Building a training library. With some judicious recording of your training sessions, you'll build a YouTube-style library of videos so you'll never have to teach the same topic twice. This resource is millennial-friendly (more on that later) and gives all users the opportunity to review content whenever needed, at their own pace.

What Training Isn't

Before we conceptualize a training program, let's be sure we avoid some of the common mistakes I see many CAD managers make. Here, I'll identify some of the misconceptions people have about training (and the serious mistakes they make), to help adjust your thinking. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Onshape Publishes E-Book of Tips for Its Cloud-Based CAD Application
"Onshape's Greatest Tech Tips, Volume 1: 10 Things Every Full-Cloud CAD User Should Know," written by Cody Armstrong, is now available at no cost to those who register. Topics addressed in the e-book include: using Onshape's Compare command, exporting and importing DXF Files, and customizing Onshape's Shortcut toolbar.

SolidProfessor Offers SOLIDWORKS Certification Paths
SolidProfessor Technical Certificates now provide pathways to the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate (CSWA) and Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional (CSWP) industry certification exams. SolidProfessor can contact the training provider for a free CSWA or CSWP exam voucher after they have earned their Technical Certificates.

What's New at

AutoCAD Video Tips: Stir Things Up with the Start Tab
Did you turn off the Start tab in AutoCAD without even giving it a chance? Then you might just be missing out on all it has to offer. In this video tip from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll see how to get the most out of the powerful features in the Start tab — and you'll also learn how to turn it off, if you're still not convinced! Watch the video »

Options in SOLIDWORKS Simulation 2016
This Pluralsight tutorial provides an introduction to SOLIDWORKS Simulation capabilities with a look at the system and default options available to users. Watch the video »

Sponsored: Performance, Reliability Are Top Computer "Must-Haves" for CAD Users
Cadalyst survey takes temperature of CAD professionals and their companies relative to desktop and mobile CAD computing hardware. Read more »

CAD in the Cloud: Modest Adoption Levels Persist
According to a recent survey by Business Advantage, 15% of companies worldwide are using the technology and another 12% are considering it. Read more »

NX Module Adds New Generative Design Capabilities to Venerable MCAD Platform
Frustum and Siemens PLM Software join forces to bring topology optimization technology into the product design and manufacturing solution. Read more »

Viewpoint: Prepare for Ongoing CAD Training Needs
Keeping up with new software capabilities requires long-term effort on the part of CAD managers and users. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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