CAD Manager Personas
A consistent trend over the years is that CAD managers are typically designers, engineers, architects, or other technical workers who evolve into the CAD manager role. It is rare for someone with a pure IT background to become a CAD manager. So, the persona that emerges is that of someone who isn’t a classic “computer nerd” but someone who evolved into the position because of their CAD expertise.
Therefore, most CAD managers I talk to still report through the engineering manager, production manager, architectural director, or other technical management branch of the company — it is rare that they report through the IT department. As a result of not being in the IT department, many CAD managers have zero IT capability or permissions.
What I have noticed is that today’s CAD manager either has to be more IT conversant or has to rely a lot more on the IT department than they did before. Could it be that CAD managers should now be part of the IT department or at least have all the power and permissions of an IT staff member? Could being a member of the IT staff better help us make IT reliant CAD tools run better? How can the CAD manager know the answer to these questions?
Ask: What IT Tools Determine Your Success?
Or, put another way, what IT tools/issues cause you problems? After all, if you know where the IT heartburn is you know what IT areas you need to pay more attention to. To answer the above, read through the following topics and answer each diagnostic question Yes, No, or Sometimes and write down your answers:
Network administration: Creating user accounts, creating user groups, assigning network permissions to users and groups, sharing and configuring network peripherals, access to cloud accounts, etc. If your IT department handles all these tasks, how well do they do so?
Diagnostic question #1: Do your CAD tools often experience problems because of incorrect network permissions, peripheral issues, or account configuration problems?
Peripheral management: The ability to reset printers/plotters, clear out document queues, configure device defaults, deploy drivers, etc., is something every CAD manager should know how to do.
Diagnostic question #2: Do you often find yourself waiting for IT intervention to get a printer or plotter back up and running or have to wait for driver updates?
Data archiving and backup: The ability to store, find, and recover data is key for disaster avoidance and recovery. The ability to comb through old projects to find hidden nuggets of information from similar projects executed years ago can also save tons of time. Learning to use your company’s backup and restore IT procedures could prove to be invaluable.
Diagnostic question #3: Do you find yourself waiting long periods of time to recover or find archived information due to IT delays?
Software updates: To the extent that CAD software requires administrative permission to be updated, the CAD manager should have the authority and knowledge to manage the process. This includes the ability to create software deployments and deliver automatic updates via user login and group membership. CAD managers who don’t have IT authority to do this are at a disadvantage during upgrades and service pack installations.
Diagnostic question #4: Do you experience problems getting software installed and upgrades/service packs deployed due to lack of IT authority?
Wide area network (WAN) management: As companies use CAD tools across WAN connections to branch offices the CAD manager will be called upon to resolve problems at these remote locations. CAD managers need access to remote network servers and permissions to perform all manner of functions on any servers where CAD work is performed.
Diagnostic question #5: Do you have problems managing software tools and configurations at remote sites due to lack of IT authority?
Support bureaucracy: As companies have become more security-focused, the tendency has been to make IT more tightly locked down and to hide behind support ticketing systems rather than simply being able to call a specific person for help. While general users may be able to wait for help on an ordinary issue, CAD managers are responsible for many users and usually need to get resolutions in place quickly.
Diagnostic question #6: Do you have to wait long periods of time for impersonal IT service to resolve issues in your CAD environment?