What is False Economy
The dictionary defines false economy as an action that costs less at first but results in more money being spent later. If you ask an accountant, they’ll likely bristle and say that spending less is always better than spending more. But, I doubt they’ve ever had to model a large BIM project on a 5-year-old CAD machine.
Rather than diving into a complex discussion of CPUs, RAM, SSDs, and GPUs — which the accountants won’t understand anyway — it is far better to start talking about practical examples like these:
How a $150 tune up on your car can save many times that amount in gas consumption.
Replacing old light bulbs with $4 LED bulbs to save $7 in electricity each year.
Do the tune up and light bulbs cost money? Yes. But does the cost of the tune up and light bulbs make sense given the savings? Absolutely!
People Are Expensive — Workstations Are Cheap
I know some accountants and company owners will disagree with me, but workstations really are cheap. In fact they are dirt cheap considering everything they do.
In a world of $1,000-dollar desks and $6 lattes, a workstation that cranks out high volume production CAD work for $3,000 (or less) is not just cheap, it is an insane bargain. So, if workstations are cheap, then what is expensive you may ask? Answer: the person who sits at the workstation!
“How in the world does this relate to CAD,” you ask. Let’s examine the case of Jim — a civil engineer who does massive projects like airports and shipping terminals, to illustrate.
Jim does a great deal of work on Civil 3D, supporting major projects. He’s often in the critical path of project completion and as such must deal with pressure and deadlines. On an almost daily basis, Jim deals with a variety of computer-related problems that stem from his 4-year-old computer with a generic graphics card, small SSD, and just 16GB of RAM. These problems include:
Slow processing and plotting.
Graphics problems due to lack of hardware acceleration.
Crashes during rendering and analysis operations.
Reboots required due to above problems.
In fact, these problems are so common that Jim figures he spends a minimum of 30 minutes (0.5 hr) per day dealing with them.
Analysis of Jim’s Situation
Jim is a well-compensated ($95,000 a year) individual with a benefits package that costs his company 20% above his salary. This means that Jim really costs his company $114,000/year (1.2 * $95,000).
And, since Jim works 48 weeks/year (240 days/year) at 8 hrs/day that means he works a total of 1,920 hours per year. If you divide Jim’s annual cost by 1,920, that results in a cost of $59.38/hour to keep Jim on staff. Or stated as an equation: