Trends from Reader Feedback
Here are a few interesting comments I’ve collected from my Facebook group and reader emails over the last two years (slightly edited for brevity) that give clues to how things got off track:
My boss insists that he can use his iPad or phone to manage files and store photos, but his files are often not uploaded in a timely manner and wind up being emailed, which makes it very hard to track work.
I have users who say they saved their files in a DropBox account, others use OneDrive, while others use WeSendIt to send huge zipped files. CAD is no longer the problem—it’s the other stuff that's the issue.
When users try to open 100MB maps with millions of objects in them across our WAN, the network always crashes. So, users copy the files to their own machine and we lose control.
Cloud storage and security is a big problem for us. Either I set things wide open so everyone can work with the files and risk data loss, or I tighten the security and it is harder to get work done.
We are a small company and our owner makes us use some crazy cloud site because it’s cheap, but it takes hours to sync files. We’ve overwritten a lot of files.
Users need to understand that information is used and shared to support work goals — to accomplish something. This is very different than using Facebook or Twitter on your phone for private purposes.
What’s the Underlying Issue?
What are the conclusions can we draw from the CAD manager feedback above? Here are my thoughts:
Collaboration. What really jumps out for me is that the problems are collaborative issues, not CAD issues. Nobody ever said their AutoCAD, Revit, or SOLIDWORKS program didn’t create files, but many said that controlling those files was problematic.
Device issues. Added to collaboration is that more files are being managed outside the company environment on a variety of devices and apps that use communication methods that are hard to track — like text messaging. So, we aren’t just worried about a user’s computer, but also their phones, iPads, and apps which bring multiple operating systems and support burdens. In essence, these are bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own app (BYOA) problems.
Bandwidth. Many times, users don’t really want to cheat the system, but given how slow corporate WAN’s can be, they sometimes feel they don’t have a choice and thus copy files to a local device. In these cases, a lack of robust bandwidth and/or fast synchronizing tools isn’t saving a company any money — it is costing money due to lost data and file overwrites.
What isn’t mentioned. Notice that none of these CAD managers complained about training, the software, or even standards. Interesting, isn’t it?
I often say that in CAD management, CAD is the least of our problems and this seems to have been especially true during the remote COVID era. Now we need to move on to solving the issues as work returns to a more normal environment.
First: Understand BYOD/BYOA Issues
Typically, managing devices and applications is the responsibility of IT but many smaller companies don’t have formal IT departments and many larger companies don’t have IT departments that understand CAD. Either way, it pays for CAD managers to be conversant in BYOD topics so you can communicate the problems to your management teams with a CAD-centric spin (as advised above).
Digital Guardian’s web site has a rich section on understanding the BYOD problem and how it can impact data security. The page has a variety of links targeted to IT professionals, but CAD managers with a working knowledge of IT should be able to follow along on the key points. As you read the articles, pay particular attention to the human resource and liability issues it brings up as these are topics many CAD managers may not be conversant in.
By familiarizing yourself with these issues, you’ll be able to educate your leadership on the dangers of BYOD and have intelligent conversations with IT. But most of all, you’ll have ammunition for how dangerous the situation is for your company CAD data. Let’s see how.