Start by Finding the Problems/Errors
In my experience, any CAD performance audit begins because there are problems (errors) that need to be addressed. So the logical place to start is to identify what the problems are. After all, if you’re trying to get more efficient doesn’t it stand to reason that eliminating problems would be the goal? It also turns out that when everybody is focused on eliminating the problem, then there is a common purpose to doing the audit. The natural progression then becomes finding where errors happen then identifying the root problem causing the error.
To start the process here are some steps I’ve found always work when trying to root out errors:
Ask CAD users where the problems are. They’ll tell you. Of course they’ll tell you what the problems are from their production point of view, but you’ll have a good starting point to begin the audit.
Ask senior and project managers (PMs) where they think the problems are. They’ll tell you something different than the CAD users will as they’re focused almost entirely on deadlines and customer satisfaction.
Ask IT if they see any problems with CAD tool usage. They’ll give you an entirely different spin on the issue that’ll focus on security, costs, and licensing.
If you keep track of all the responses, you’ll have a balanced assessment of your CAD problems from all different perspectives. In my experience, you can’t solve CAD problems by focusing on any one perspective (user, PM, or IT), rather you must consider all stakeholders.
Filter and Collate Your Answers
Now that you have a list of problems from all stakeholders, it’s time to start correlating and looking for common threads. Here’s the hierarchy of filters I use along with a few examples:
Problems listed by everyone. If everybody is telling you that you that capturing PDF output for submittals is an issue, then it probably is. Of course, users may talk about standards configurations, PM’s will site missed deadlines, and IT may talk about configuration with Bluebeam, but the point is you have some consensus to work with.
Problems listed by users and PMs. If users and PMs are all telling you that sending data back and forth to clients is problematic, then it probably is. The problem may be with different software versions, intermediate formats like IFC, or simply data standards.
Problems listed only by PMs. If PMs tell you that meeting client timelines are a problem, but CAD users do NOT tell you, then the situation is usually that the CAD users don’t know until too late — a simple communication problem.
Problems listed only by CAD users. If users tell you that sending information to clients is like pulling teeth because there’s no standard way to do so, but PMs say nothing about the issue, then users are typically solving the problem on their own.
Problems listed only by IT. Typically security issues related to cloud apps or license server issues that CAD users may not even know are causing them problems.
Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of problems you’ll encounter, but in my experience it covers the majority. Do not go any further in your CAD auditing process until you’ve filtered and collated your findings.