CAD Manager's Q&A: Setting Up Standards

8 Nov, 2005 By: Robert Green

My management has asked me to set up some CAD standards.  Where do I start?  Help!

Robert Green responds:   I'm asked this question a good bit and can offer some general guidelines that almost always work.

Major Point #1.  Keep it simple!

Don't try to write a huge tome of standards that nobody will read or follow.  The most effective CAD standards I've seen are no more than 15 pages, with the best ones being the shortest.  If your standards are easy to read, people will actually read them.

Major Point #2. Make the CAD standard support the needs of your business.

CAD standards should simply make your CAD files consistent so everyone who uses them can be productive -- nothing more and nothing less. If you do a lot of work for a state road agency, for example, obtain that agency's CAD guidelines and fashion your CAD standards to meet its needs.  If most of your work remains in-house, craft your standards to make your files easy for staff to find, use and share.

Major Point #3. Sell the value of CAD standards to everyone who will listen. 

You need to be an evangelistic cheerleader for CAD standardization by accentuating the increased efficiency that standardization brings.  After all, if you aren't enthusiastic, why should anyone else be?

Now Get Started. Sit down with a notepad and scribble your immediate thoughts on what a CAD standard should be for your company.  I recommend getting away from the computer to perform this task so you can focus on business and think freely without the interference of the technology you're trying to manage.  Create a draft of your standards based on your initial thoughts and review them with some trusted power users and you'll probably be 90% done.

P.S. If you have some strategies that've worked for you in developing CAD standards, please let me know.  I'll be happy to share your thoughts and give you the credit for your contributions!

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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