Author’s note: I base my opinions on my interactions with CAD managers, senior management teams and personal experience to draw my conclusions.
Management and IT Become Ever More Important
This trend became a big deal during the remote work upheaval brought on during COVID. As companies struggled with how to host remote meetings, control files, and integrate new technology for remote work, CAD became less about CAD and more about remote work management.
This trend shows no sign of reversal as management of file sharing, cloud apps, scattered resources in Teams silos, remote access issues, and CAD licensing changes continues to be an ever-larger part of the job. Think you can just focus on CAD or BIM work as a CAD manager and make everyone happy? No way. Not anymore. We all have to become more IT and management savvy and this will impact everything from software to projects to staff.
So, what resolutions can we make for this increased management burden and how do we know where to place our emphasis?
Resolve to: Manage your CAD and IT resources in a way that saves money, increases employee output, and maximizes speed of output for your company. If any task you are asked to do doesn’t support these objectives, then it is low priority.
Resolve NOT to: Change software just to make changes, undertake big organizational changes, or enter into expensive new software contracts without seeing PROOF from vendors that it will keep IT costs down.
Software Costs Go Even Higher
Any of you who participate in budgeting know that software costs keep going up. And, more and more it isn’t the cost per seat that is driving up costs so much as other ancillary factors. These trends became prominent last year but are accelerating and will become even more common this year. Consider the following:
Named user policies mean license sharing or “pooling” can no longer be used to keep costs down.
More and more “extras” and “upcharges” are being applied, such as premium fees for Single Sign On (SSO) or cloud data tools.
Migration from traditional desktop-based CAD/BIM tools to a patchwork quilt of cloud applications costs a substantial amount of implementation time, and time is, after all, money.
Administrative burden — in terms of IT and CAD manager time — continues to increase as licensing compliance becomes a more difficult task.
Dealing with licensing issues like AWS server outages that power cloud-based licensing and application services can cause serious loss of production time.
Taken together these trends are making CAD/BIM a lot more expensive these days and causing a lot of consternation in corporate boardrooms. In 2023, I predict more calls from CFO’s and boards to reduce seat counts and licensing costs; you know they’ll be asking you for recommendations, right?
So, how to approach this problematic budget reality?
Resolve to: Optimize what you already have — especially if you can leverage perpetual software tools rather than annual subscriptions.
Resolve to: Skip software updates to keep implementation costs down unless absolutely required.
Resolve to: Analyze what software your users need to do their jobs and lower license counts aggressively to save.
Resolve to: To be creative in using remote access and machine sharing to keep software costs down. I’m not telling you to violate any licensing policies here, but I am saying that you should do everything you can to keep seat counts down.
Resolve NOT to: Buy software that isn’t mission critical at your location or cave-in to software company pressure to buy things you simply don’t need.
CAD Software Becomes More Modular
The good news is that there is a whole new selection of products (not from the big CAD companies) that are making CAD a more modular and plug-in architecture than in years past. Products like Enscape, Grasshopper, and Lumion are changing the visualization and complex surface modelling environments, for example. And, as more modules that operate with IFC file formats permeate the BIM environment, it will become even more modular.
So, how should you take advantage of this and how do we navigate this complex, plugged-in, and modular landscape?
Resolve to: Evaluate any modular tools based on their function and merit and only use those tools that provide value to your users/company — particularly if you can replace subscription tools with perpetual tools.
Resolve NOT to: Play the “plug-in of the week” game! Don’t allow users to randomly install the latest modules they’ve downloaded without supervision from you.
Resolve NOT to: Allow users to install proprietary plug-ins or modular apps on workstations, tablets, or phones that deviate from your CAD/BIM application’s native OS without specific vetting from you and/or IT.
Hardware and OS Mostly Stable, but Laptops are Problematic
Powerful hardware and the relative stability of Windows 10 has made it easy to specify CAD machines in the last few years, but new laptops increasingly ship with Windows 11 which makes managing mixed environments more likely. Since legacy CAD applications can sometimes have problems on Windows 11, I try to keep everyone on Windows 10.
So, what is a minimum configuration for CAD/BIM that you should you specify to IT then? Use these guidelines.