CAD Manager's Newsletter (#419)

8 Jan, 2019 By: Robert Green

New Year, Old-School CAD Management Wisdom

When it comes to making smart CAD management decisions, there's much to be learned from looking to the past.

Over the holiday break, I spent some time looking in the rearview mirror at my early CAD management days. And as I thought back to that era when software was primitive, computers were expensive, and nobody (including myself) much knew what they were doing, I realized that something has been lost in modern CAD management: The concept that software should serve us more than we serve it.

These days, we're so busy managing commoditized computers, tablets, phones, user portals, and the never-ending wave of apps that we spend all our time on websites feeding the machines rather than asking what the machines should be doing for us. In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll focus on getting back to the core of what CAD management should be, and pass along some old-school CAD management truisms that still apply today. Here goes.

Image by everettovrk /

The Mission: Production and Efficiency

In the old days of CAD management, the expectation from users and managers alike was that CAD tools should run efficiently, and that the CAD manager was the person to make that happen. This push for efficiency led to the following basic job requirements for CAD managers:

Get projects done. CAD and building information modeling (BIM) tools are cool to work with, but our companies don't pay us to play with fun toys — they pay us to get projects done quickly and profitably. So, while CAD managers may spend time learning about new tools and technologies, the only real reason to do so is to support faster project completions.

Manage technology to meet deadlines. If your company has a choice between a low-tech solution — perhaps an older or less-sophisticated software tool or process — that always meets deadlines, and a high-tech, cutting-edge option that's unreliable and misses deadlines, they'll take the low-tech alternative every time. CAD managers who've been successful over the long haul understand this. Don't believe me? Ask your boss.

Create standards that work automatically. What's the best standard to use? The one you don't know you're using! From low-tech standardization techniques (such as block libraries or object families) to complex task automation, the best standardization is something that is so easy to use that users don't think about it. Why beat your head against the wall teaching someone to do something manually when you could make the problem go away with standards?

Build a custom environment. An environment that maximizes productivity for users in your company's real-world project environment. CAD is not one-size-fits-all; for it to be truly effective, we must tweak our CAD tools to support our needs.

Adapt tools to users, rather than adapting users to tools. What's easier: applying some programming to make CAD work in harmony with current methods, or training people to change the way they work? Human nature is much harder to change than programming code.

Note that every one of these requirements is focused on making CAD tools as productive and easy to use as possible, so that work can be completed quickly. In a very real sense, CAD management came of age because somebody had to make all the CAD tools work well together; all these years later, that core mission hasn't changed. Read more »

Tools and Resources

SolidProfessor Offers SOLIDWORKS Shortcut Guide
Engineering software training provider SolidProfessor has published a downloadable cheat sheet listing commonly used SOLIDWORKS keyboard shortcuts. The download is available to site visitors who register with SolidProfessor.

What's New at

Herrera on Hardware: Intel's Optane Comes to CAD Workstations — for a Price
It's not cheap yet, but Optane technology improves performance on several fronts, especially for high-demand storage solutions. Read more »

VR for Enterprise Has Arrived, Says NVIDIA — Part 2
IBI Group is among the early adopters exploring how the Holodeck VR platform can help AEC professionals with design presentation and development. Read more »

VR for Enterprise Has Arrived, Says NVIDIA — Part 1
According to the developer of the Holodeck virtual reality platform, there's no longer any doubt about whether VR is viable for professional applications, including review of CAD models. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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