CAD Manager's Newsletter (#440)

25 Feb, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

CAD Management 3.0 Calls for Quadrilingual Translation Skills

As a CAD manager, you likely wear a lot of hats — and now, being an effective communicator requires that you speak a lot of "languages" as well.

Editor's note: Click here to read the first and second parts of this series on CAD Management 3.0.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever received as a CAD manager was my gruff old boss Kurt saying, "For a computer guy, you speak English!" Though I didn't realize how great a compliment it was at that moment, I came to realize that one of my key functions was explaining computer stuff to a senior management staff that had no interest in understanding it. Soon after Kurt made his statement, I started calling myself a technology translator — a description I use to this day.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share my belief that in the age of CAD Management 3.0, we're becoming quadrilingual technology translators. I'll strive to explain the four languages we must speak, and give you some practical communication tips for each as we go along. Here goes.

The Languages Defined

To be effective in today's CAD management environment, I've found myself needing speak the following four languages:

1. CAD workflow — discussing how the software works to support your particular environment.
2. CAD budget — explaining why things cost what they do.
3. IT — relating the complexity of getting things working on networks and the cloud.
4. Return on investment (ROI) — defining why certain decisions make sense financially.

You might read this list and think, "'Languages?' Really?" Well, yes. It's all about speaking the native language of the person you're talking to. Talk about CAD with another CAD person, and you'll speak in CAD language; talk to an accountant about CAD, and you'll speak either CAD budget or ROI; talk CAD to an IT staffer, and you'll speak IT. In each case, using a language the other person can clearly understand is essential for a productive conversation — otherwise, the two of you may as well be speaking Swahili and Spanish, or Finnish and French.

Complicating things further is that I must translate all these concepts up the ladder to people like CFOs, engineering managers, and project managers. So if I need to tell an accountant why I need more budget for a cloud software product, I had better convert the IT language to budget language first. See what I mean?

Hopefully you're starting to buy into this idea, because next we will define communication tips and strategies for each language.

md3d /
md3d /

CAD Workflow Language

I find that speaking CAD workflow is the best way to communicate with power users and those few managers who really understand CAD tools. This language is a higher-level dialect of the CAD technical language family, as we don't just talk about how a given command works, but also about the best circumstances in which to use the command — particularly to save time.

By speaking CAD workflow, you'll find conversations move toward actions, standards, and best practices almost automatically. I mean, if you're talking about the best way to use CAD tools, it stands to reason you're going to discover better CAD workflows and want to make those workflows standard.

And the best part of speaking CAD workflow is that you never have to say, "Use the CAD tools this way because I say so!" Instead, you're having a consensus-based conversation around the most efficient way to use CAD tools. Along the way, you'll surely find that time savings (which translate into cost savings) can be obtained simply by using better workflows, and word savings will be magic when we get to the ROI section a bit later.

Bonus: Speaking CAD workflow is especially useful for CAD managers who must standardize their environments via consensus rather than absolute authority. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Autodesk Offers Free Recorded Classes from AU 2019
Autodesk has made video recordings, downloadable handouts, and other resources freely available for hundreds of instructional demos, roundtables, industry talks, product briefings, and panel discussions from Autodesk University 2019.

What's New at

Herrera on Hardware: AMD CPUs for CAD Workstations — Third-Generation Threadripper Makes Impressive Debut
Three years into the era of AMD's Zen architecture for central processing units (CPUs), the company has climbed into a better position to compete with Intel, equipped with a high-performance workstation-caliber CPU. Read more »

Benchmarks Reveal Common Struggles in Product Development Processes
For manufacturers on a mission of self-improvement, Tata Technologies creates baselines of comparison for evaluating maturity in digital engineering, product lifecycle management (PLM) analytics, and more. Read more »

The End of SOLIDWORKS World — and a New Beginning
Dassault Systèmes struck a new note in Nashville, debuting the 3DEXPERIENCE World user conference in place of the venerable SOLIDWORKS World. Read more »

Xometry Extends Custom Manufacturing Capabilities in Europe
New quoting capabilities and the acquisition of the Shift on-demand manufacturing marketplace further the company's aggressive growth. 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!