CAD Manager's Newsletter (#458)

9 Dec, 2020 By: Robert Green

Lessons from 2020:
Refocusing on CAD Management Basics

What can we learn from this chaotic year that will help guide our CAD management strategy going forward?

Now that we've all endured most of 2020 — with all its ups and downs — can we look back at what this exceptional year has taught us and draw a few conclusions? For my part, I'll tell you that the whole experience has refocused me on the basics.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share a broad range of responsibilities that today's CAD manager must deal with, identify some of the complicating factors to be aware of, and set out strategies for dealing with CAD management during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Here goes.


It Really Is About the Basics

As we've navigated working from home, remote software licensing, virtual private networks (VPNs) and Teams/Zoom meetings, one thing has come into sharp focus for me: Being a CAD manager is all about the basics of getting work done, and everything I do must support that mission. And what are those basics, exactly?

Making production happen. When it comes down to it, the number one thing we all do is facilitate production. If work can't get done, the company can't make money, and then we'll all be out of a job. So, making sure production is working smoothly is our first priority.

Making sure software supports production by maximizing function. Since production happens on software we already have in place, it stands to reason that maximizing existing tools will help us most. Time to put aside crazy notions of radical changes and spend more time on the fundamentals of how we can best support our users with the tools they already have in place.

Saving money. This year has shown us that business can be unstable, and that there is never a bad time to save money to prepare for future surprises. To that end, ask yourself, "Where can we save money?" You may be surprised at some of the options (more on that shortly).

Securing the files. As more people work remotely, the business of keeping CAD files/models safe and secure becomes tougher. When you can't depend on "yelling over the cubicle wall" to keep projects coordinated, you'll probably need to stress how users can keep all their information properly stored and backed up. Which brings me to the next item on the list ...

Managing standards formulation and deployment. Creating, optimizing, and rolling out standards — particularly around file security and best usage practices — becomes even more important in remote work environments.

Training users. Though training is tough to do remotely, it may be our only option for a while longer, so we simply have to devise training schedules that allow us to communicate our standards via videoconferencing. We cannot allow the COVID-limited work environment to kill our training programs!

New Tech Creates New Problems

Now that we've laid out the back-to-basics responsibilities we all must deal with, let's consider how new technologies — whether they're hardware, software, or IT based — will make the job more complicated. I'll also draw a few conclusions about where you might want to delay new tech, given the COVID-19–driven work-from-home paradigm. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Get First Dibs on the 2021 Freebies Guide!
Cadalyst is updating our "Fabulous Freebies for CAD Users" guide, and we'd like your input! Do you have a favorite software tool or resource that doesn't cost a thing? It could be a PDF converter, a sketching tool, a file utility, an AutoLISP routine, a library of downloadable models, or anything else that helps you with your work. Every reader who submits a relevant tool will receive a copy of the updated e-guide before it's available publicly, bypassing the usual registration requirements.

Send your tool recommendation(s) to by Wednesday, December 23, for consideration. Be sure to include:

•  Your full name, the name of the tool, and the company that provides it
•  The website where readers can access or download the tool
•  A brief description of what you use it for and/or why you like it.

And don't miss your last chance to download the current version of "Fabulous Freebies for CAD Users" while it's still available! Visit the Cadalyst Library today for this and other guides, white papers, tip sheets, and more for CAD managers and users.

What's New at

Viewpoint: Rescuing the Exhausted Engineer with Digital Manufacturing Simulation
Product designers and engineers were overburdened even before the pandemic put extra pressure on their teams, workflows, and customers. Analyses enabled by virtually replicating both a product and its manufacturing processes can turn things around. Read more »

For This Mechanical Engineer, Learning New CAD Applications Is Illuminating
A former AutoCAD user who taught himself DraftSight shares his experience. Read more »

Autodesk Pushes AEC Modernization, Part 2: Generative Design and BIM
Autodesk University 2020 announcements include improved Revit interoperability, the acquisition of a site-planning platform featuring generative design technology, and more. Read more »

Sponsored: Simulating an Unorthodox Turkey Cooking Method in Ansys Fluent
There are many ways to cook a turkey, but have you ever wondered how it might turn out if it were heated via supersonic flight? Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis can give you an idea. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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