CAD Manager's Newsletter (#437)

14 Jan, 2020 By: Robert Green

Predictions and Resolutions for Better CAD Management in 2020

Resolve to manage your resources more effectively, make the most of your budget, and become more involved with IT, and you'll be more prepared for the challenges coming your way this year.

It's a new year, and that means it's time for resolutions to be a better, more informed CAD manager. But what are those resolutions, exactly, and what can we expect to see this year? Your mileage may vary, of course, but here are my predictions for the New Year, based on my interactions with CAD managers and my own CAD management experience. I'll also share resolutions that hopefully will help you meet the challenges we'll all face in 2020. Here goes.

Management Makes Up More of the Equation

When I speak to CAD managers, I often ask them to write out "CAD management," and note how much bigger the second word is than the first. This year, I predict the managerial burden will become an even larger part of the job. Between licensing changes, IT issues, cost reduction pressures, and the ever-present need to demonstrate our worth, we're all going to have to build up our management chops. (We'll address these topics in more detail in the sections below, so please keep reading.)

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So how can we generally prepare for this increased management burden?

Resolution: Manage your CAD resources in a way that saves money, increases employee output, and maximizes overall communication with senior management. These have always been concepts that allowed me to differentiate myself from other CAD managers, but they're no longer optional — they're now required for basic CAD management success.

Software Budgets Go Under the Microscope

As I opined in the previous issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, software is getting more expensive. This is due to several causes:

•  Price increases on individual subscriptions/licenses
•  More vendors using subscription-only licensing rather than long-term perpetual licensing
•  Greater price increases on multi-seat concurrent user subscription/licenses
•  The move to named-user software subscription, which disallows multi-seat, concurrent licensing altogether.

Taken together, these trends are producing a perfect storm of rising software cost that is getting senior management's attention. At some point, software budgets must be capped and you — the CAD manager — will be the one deciding what you can and cannot do without.

So what's the best way to approach this problematic budget reality?

Resolution: Optimize what you already have — particularly when you still have perpetual licenses that don't come with high annual renewal costs.

Resolution: Only buy "high-end" software if it is truly needed, and only buy it for the employees who truly need it. I've talked to many companies that purchased expensive add-on software for dozens of users, only to find that just a few truly used it. These companies are now reaping the savings of reducing seat counts.

Resolution: Be creative in using remote access and machine sharing to keep software costs down. I'm not telling you to violate any licensing policies here, but I am saying do everything you can to keep seat counts down.

Resolution: Shop aggressively for software alternatives that can save you money, just like you'd shop around for a new insurance carrier or Internet provider. The days of blindly renewing software contracts are over.

Hardware and OS Stability Persists

Powerful hardware and the relative stability of Windows 10 have made it easy to specify CAD machines in the past year, and I expect that trend will continue in 2020. As long as you work with your IT department to achieve minimum configurations that run CAD well, you should be able to dodge hardware and OS discussions.

But what is a minimum configuration for CAD that you should have your IT department use?

Resolution: Purchase 6/8-core i7/i9 machines with a minimum 3.5-GHz base frequency, 16 GB of RAM, 1-TB high-speed solid-state drive, and a 4-GB or higher GPU, and you should be good for most CAD/building information modeling (BIM) machines — at a price point around $2,000. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Cadalyst Publishes Guide to CAD Tech Trends to Watch in 2020
When you're surrounded by emerging and evolving technologies, it can be difficult to determine which developments will be impactful and which are overhyped. To help you see the future more clearly, eight representatives of CAD software development companies discuss their picks for which trends to watch. Download the Top CAD Technology Trends of 2020 guide to read insights and predictions from eight CAD software companies about how CAD and related technologies are changing.

What's New at

Graebert Unveils CAD SaaS Road Map, New BIM Features
According to the Berlin-based CAD developer, the software-as-a-service transformation will likely take more than a decade, but the time to start investing in cloud solutions is now. Read more »

Viewpoint: Why BIM Models Serve Designers Better Than Contractors
With BIM, the design stage is privileged over the execution stage — and tools that require specialized knowledge of BIM technology and operating skills are limiting the use of BIM in construction. Read more »

Autodesk Creates Construction Cloud to Connect Scattered Teams
New solution promises to help team members collaborate effectively — whether they're in an office or the field — and to enable data to flow from design to fabrication to the job site. Read more »

In nTop Platform 2.0, New Toolkits Aim to Make Advanced Capabilities More
Prepackaged workflows are intended to help users quickly grasp and apply the most advanced aspects of the computational modeling software, nTopology reports. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: The 'Creator PC' for CAD — Is There Really a Need?
An upgraded PC for visual creators is appearing on the market, but there's already a tool for that: the workstation. Read more »

HP Claims World First with ZCentral Remote Workstation Solution
The centralized workstation solution, which combines new and existing HP offerings, reportedly delivers up to 33% higher performance than a virtualized workstation approach — at a lower cost. Read more »


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green