CAD Manager's Newsletter (#439)

11 Feb, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

How to Stay Billable in the CAD Management 3.0 Era

CAD management facilitates production, so it should be almost entirely billable — which means you need to reprioritize your workload.

As we discussed in the first part of this series, "CAD Management 3.0 — The Change Is Real," we're in the midst of major change wave in CAD management. One thing that never seems to change, however, is that senior management wants you to be billable. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Can you do the CAD management stuff in your spare time?" Of course you have! The coded meaning behind this phrase is that billable jobs should be your priority, and anything related to CAD management is just overhead that is to be avoided. But we all know that if we don't do the CAD management work, mistakes will be made, projects will be delayed, and rework will cost the company more money.

So how can CAD managers in the CAD Management 3.0 world of ever-more-complex technology deal with this conundrum? In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll give you an approach that can help you stay billable even as the job gets more complicated. I've used some of these strategies to stay billable in the past, and also find them useful today. You may find that you can bill far more CAD management tasks than you ever thought you could! Here goes.

Supporting Production and Becoming Billable

As silly as this may sound at first, start thinking about CAD management as a production task, not a technical task. I know you're thinking, "Everything I do is somehow technical, be it software installation, configuration, or support — so how can it not be technical?" The answer to this question is: You're only doing those things so CAD users — who are architects, engineers, designers, drafters, BIM modelers, etc. — can work on paying jobs. So it actually turns out that you are a production facilitator.

Once you accept that CAD management is a production function, it becomes clear that CAD management should be almost entirely billable. Why? Because if you didn't do your thing, projects either wouldn't go out or would take much longer to complete — and therefore, would be more expensive.

Repeat after me: I'm a CAD manager, and since I support production I am billable!

Say this line and read the above paragraph as many times as needed until you believe it!

First Things First: Prioritize Your Workload

We all have a long list of tasks we need to complete, and the nature of those tasks is changing as CAD management itself changes. Of course it is hard to get everything done, but I find the hardest part of a long list of tasks is knowing how to prioritize those tasks. Adding to the problem is that everyone wants you to work on their task first, because that is the most important priority for them!

If we consider that job one is to be more supportive of production — and therefore more billable — it stands to reason that prioritizing your workload should reflect that sensibility. The best strategy I've found for dealing with task prioritization is to repeatedly ask myself the following four questions while perusing the task list:

1.  Is this task really something IT should be doing?
2.  Does this task support production deadline requirements?
3.  Is this task a result of errors that should not have occurred in the first place?
4.  If I postpone this task, will production deadlines slip?

As you go through your task list, place the number 1, 2, 3, or 4 next to each item and resort your list accordingly. Congratulations, because you're halfway home! Your new list will be sorted in the exact order that you should use to complete your tasks.

Tackle That List

Now let's get to work! I can already hear some of you disagreeing with my prioritization order, so let me walk you through my justifications:

Is this task really something IT should be doing? What if setting up a user account or establishing project permissions is blocking work on a project? Now you have a case where production is being impacted by an IT issue you can't fix — welcome to CAD Management 3.0! My strategy here is to identify the problem, document it, and offload it to IT to start progress on the resolution right away.

Does this task support production deadline requirements? If it does, then it needs to be worked on, but what if you have many items on your list that meet these criteria? If so, prioritize them according to production deadlines: The sooner the deadline, the sooner the task should be completed.

Is this task a result of errors that should not have occurred in the first place? Items in this category tend to be violated standards, lack of proper job kickoff processes, etc. Use the same prioritization logic as above, but be aware that it may take extra time to fix the problems in a job that's already progressing, so these items may become urgent. 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 from Our Sponsors

Webinar: AEC Technology Trends

Webinar: AEC Technology Trends
Join Lenovo and NVIDIA® for a free webinar as we discuss the top trends in the AEC space, and the next gen technology helping bring those trends to life. Listen as we examine the newest innovations in the industry and learn how to level up your organization with machines built to handle any task. Register now!

What's New at

Radica Launches Fully Browser-Based Electrical CAD Software
Thomas Yip, CEO and founder of Radica Software, discusses the "world's first" solution for 2D electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic schematic drawings that runs in the cloud. Read more »

Viewpoint: Infrastructure Digital Twins: From Vision to Reality, From Idea to Action
As digital twins advance, what do you need to know? Advice from Bentley Systems founder Keith Bentley can help you get started. Read more »

Sponsored: White Paper Tests Notebook PC vs. Mobile Workstation
From Lenovo: When it comes to visual computing for CAD, these two types of machines are very different — and the numbers show why. Read more »

CAD Manager Column: 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 better prepared for the challenges coming your way this year. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!