Analyzing the CAD Manager's Survey, Part 2

13 Nov, 2007 By: Robert Green

CAD managers continue to be most frustrated by lack of time and issues related to CAD standards enforcement.

A few weeks ago I concluded the CAD Manager’s Survey for 2007. The general findings on salary, job responsibilities, and statistics on user support are published in the November edition of Cadalyst magazine.

Here in CAD Manager's Newsletter I am presenting even more information revealed by the survey that I think you'll find instructive. In the last issue I presented a prequel to the CAD Manager's Survey report and shared some of the results regarding software usage, 3D design, and technical metrics. If you haven't had a chance to read it, please do so now so that you'll get the complete picture.

In this edition I'll finish my coverage of the survey by focusing on job security issues and key frustrations for CAD managers. I've found that by looking at what bothers CAD managers, I can frequently gain insight and provide suggestions for dealing with the problems. Here goes.

Most Frustrating
I wanted to take the pulse of the CAD management market by finding out what tasks were the most problematic for the greatest number of CAD managers. To accomplish this task, I presented a list of common frustrating situations I've observed over the years and then asked the survey participants to rank them in order of greatest frustration.

The list of frustrations in prioritized order is presented here:

  • Not having enough time (25%)
  • CAD standards enforcement (22%)
  • Not having enough authority (12%)
  • CAD standards development (12%)
  • Dealing with management (10%)
  • Lack of budget (5%)
  • Training issues (5%)
  • Too much pressure to be billable (<3%)
  • No response (<2%)
  • Providing user support (<2%)
  • Other (<2%)

Interesting Conclusions
The survey responses haven't changed much from last year, so I am fairly certain that I'm getting a good sampling of all CAD managers' frustrations. What did surprise me was the prioritization of the survey responses. My guess had been that the CAD standards-focused responses would come in somewhat higher and the managerial issues somewhat lower.

Not enough time. Not having enough time to do the job has moved into first place for CAD manager frustration. This result shows, without a doubt, that CAD managers are collectively feeling the pinch of managing more software, more users, and more jobs than ever before. As more CAD managers have become part time and more billable, it stands to reason that the time to perform CAD management tasks has become even more compressed. It appears that the increased pressure of the job and the lower amount of time to actually manage all things CAD has reached the tipping point for many.

CAD standards enforcement. This category inched slightly higher than last year, but is still at second place. When I speak to audiences of CAD managers, I always do an informal poll by a show of hands, and CAD standards enforcement has always been the top vote getter when it comes to frustrations. It may simply be that when you're too pressed for time (see previous item), everything else becomes secondary, thus explaining CAD standards' second-place finish.

Not having enough authority. Always a common complaint among CAD managers, lack of authority came in at number three this year. This is one item that I would think would draw more ire from CAD managers, but the percentage of frustration with this item remains virtually unchanged.

Dealing with management. This complaint, while still common, is one that has been diminishing slightly over time. I believe that a key frustration item with management is simply the lack of time authorized for CAD management. However, I see more CAD managers engaged in productive dialogues with their management than ever before and the frustration lessening somewhat. I'm optimistic that this item will continue to drop as CAD managers become more proactive in communicating with their management teams.

CAD standards development. Developing CAD standards is not nearly as frustrating as enforcing CAD standards (12% vs. 22%) for survey respondents. If anyone thinks that CAD managers are frustrated with CAD standards in general, this survey result shows that few CAD managers have problems developing CAD standards; they simply have trouble enforcing them. For a hint at why standards enforcement is so problematic, please refer to the lack of authority outlined above.

Lack of budget. I find it very interesting that lack of budget continues to rank low on the list. I suspect the reason is that we now get software via subscriptions and IT staffs largely take care of the hardware aspect of our budgets. So in real terms, we're worried less about budgets because we're less responsible for them.

Training issues. Like the lack of budget, training issues are relatively well understood by CAD managers. I suspect that the key frustration with training programs is not having the time to do the job right.

The remaining items. Too much pressure to be billable, no response, providing user support, and other rounded out the list with very low percentages. The only one that surprised me is the pressure to be billable finding, which I expected to be higher.

Summing Up
I hope you've found the survey results this year useful in evaluating how you stack up against the survey results. In the next edition of CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll report on new software and trends from Autodesk University 2007. Until then.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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