Dear CEO, Understand Our Plight
As CAD managers, we toil in the trenches trying to make your software work. We operate in stressful conditions that include long hours, irritated users, limited budgets, and we have inadequate authority, yet we’re expected to make your CAD/BIM software tools work. It isn’t an easy or glamorous job, yet we do it because we love CAD technology and want our companies to succeed.
If it sounds like we’re just griping, we’re not. Remember we’re your fans and we want your software to work so we can get our jobs done. But, the more we struggle to use your tools, the worse you look by extension. What would help us most — and would help you build better customer relationships — would be for you to listen to us, understand our problems, and help us. If you would do this, we’d be happy to spread the word.
How can you help? Here are a few things you could do.
Dear CEO, Drop the Marketing Double-Speak
Remember when everything was about a “paradigm shift in design?” Remember when every other word in CAD marketing seemed to be “collaboration?” Remember when the word “cloud” had to be in every other sentence? Now everything is “BIM-BIM-BIM” or “digital twin.” And, when you put them together in today’s marketing environment, phrases like “synergistically moving towards a digital twin collaborative infrastructure” start to pop out. Trust me when I say that we CAD managers read things like this in your marketing, roll our eyes, and say, “That’s just a bunch or marketing nonsense.” I don’t need to hear about “cloud-based collaboratively optimized BIM,” I need to learn how to design buildings better using your tools. I don’t need glossy pictures or snazzy phrases, I need knowledge.
So, could you please drop the glitzy marketing materials and spend that money producing materials that help my users use your tools better? Rather than trying to persuade us to buy something from you using buzzwords, teach us to use your tools better. Chances are we’ll recommend your tools more if you help us make them work.
Dear CEO, Quit Telling Us What We Need
As I think back through my own career, I recall that CAD companies have always tried to tell CAD managers what kind of software we needed. We’ve been told we need Internet extensions, proprietary viewing and CAD formats, cloud applications, rental software, and the like. To be fair, some of these needs have come to pass (such as, Internet-enabled CAD), but it took years for the changes to permeate the marketplace and show up in our day-to-day workflows. On the other hand, many of the changes advocated, like the need for proprietary file formats and cloud-based tools, were never able to overcome our company’s needs to use industry standards — which explains why so many of us still manage standalone CAD tools and work with DWG and PDF files.
Moral of the story? Customer data requirements determine the software we use and the file types we deliver, not your marketing department.
Dear CEO, Give us Speed and Stability
In addition to learning to use your tools better, we need software that is lean, fast, and stable — not bloated, slow, and buggy. No one has ever been yelled at because their software rendered too quickly, plotted too fast, or performed design functions without crashing.
If you want to really get CAD managers on your side, focus on providing software updates that are more compact, install faster, crash less, and run faster than the previous version. Do this and I’ll stand over my boss’s desk until he signs the purchase order for your updates and will install it the minute I receive it. Don’t do this and I’ll recommend sitting out the updates.
Dear CEO, De-clutter and Add Functionality
As software tools become more mature we invariably see more icons, floating dialog boxes, and system tray components in the user interface. In fact, sometimes there are so many UI components, causing my workspace to be so small that I have to compensate by working across multiple monitor. If the user interface of the software were minimal and worked well, my users would have less to learn and more space to work in.
Many CAD managers believe CAD companies change their software interfaces just to make us think the latest update is more substantial than it really is. Please remember that every change in the user interface generates user questions, and user questions means more training. If I must spend time training, I’d rather focus on topics that facilitate better design rather than how to navigate an updated interface. So, please cut the interface bloat and focus on functionality and performance.