CAD Manager's Newsletter (#459)

14 Jan, 2021 By: Robert Green

What I Wish I Had Known About CAD Management

If I could have a conversation with my younger self, I’d explain to him that being a CAD manager requires much more than just technical skill.

There’s a quote from the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that has always captivated me: “You live life looking forward, you understand life looking backward.” This has made me think about the lessons I’ve learned over the years that have most helped me succeed in my CAD manager’s role. What I’ve come to realize is that there are certain principles — core rules, if you like — that CAD managers should consider before anything else. These rules for how you approach the job, communicate, and build career equity over time are the things I wish I’d known when I started this journey.

So in this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll do something a bit different and share with you an imaginary conversation with my younger self just getting started on the CAD manager’s journey. I hope you find this a provocative way to consider new possibilities for the New Year. Here goes.

This Job Is All About Project Management

You know, this job isn’t really isn’t as technical as you might think. Sure, you’re a great technical professional — one who can figure out most anything CAD-based if given some time to research it — but that skill set isn’t what will give you success in the end.

Instead, you’ll achieve long-term success in this position because you can manage projects and deliverables and do whatever needs to be done to achieve that goal. In some companies, you’ll need to eliminate years of disorganization; in others, you may focus more on standards or training issues. The only thing you know for sure is that the challenge at each company will always be different, and the market is always changing.

So, if you think you can become a great CAD manager by only having a technical skill set focused on a single discipline — such as BIM or MCAD — think again. You’ll do far better to develop a wide-ranging skill set that embraces project management and human factors first, then build your technical skills behind the scenes as you can.

Conclusion: Being technical without being managerial will limit your success — so think more like a project manager.

See the Big Picture

Realize that great project managers get results from diverse teams of people, so it won’t be enough to just understand how CAD users think. Think about taking a building project from concept through construction and ask yourself, “What do I need to understand to make this all work?” From that starting point, you’ll start to comprehend the big picture.


When you think about a project in its entirety, you begin to see that it isn’t just BIM that you must understand, but all the interface points and stages of the project. And since different project stages utilize different groups of workers, you’ll need to understand BIM users, estimators, on-site personnel, construction management, and QA personnel’s information requirements. Building projects don’t happen in the office they happen at the job site. And machinery integration doesn’t just happen in the office either — machinery is built on the manufacturing floor.

Conclusion: You’ll be a far better CAD manager if you understand the big picture of where CAD deliverables go and how to support all the teams that use your deliverables to execute projects. 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 Monday, January 18, 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

Graebert Seeks to Smooth the Workflow Between
2D CAD and BIM

Graebert neXt 2020, Part 2: ARES Commander, which received a raft of BIM-friendly features in version 2020, will include still more in version 2022. Read more »

Customize Your Mouse Gestures in DraftSight 
Choose up to eight of your most-used commands for super-quick access via mouse movements. Read more »

Sponsored: As Demand for Mobile Workstations Reaches New Heights, Fujitsu Launches New Flagship
The new CELSIUS H7510 mobile workstation prioritizes graphics support and data security for technology and creative professionals working from home — or anywhere else.  Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: AMD CPUs Check All the Boxes for the Range of CAD Computing Demands 
The company’s Ryzen 5000–generation CPUs solidify its resurgent competitive edge, particularly when it comes mainstream CAD. Read more »


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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