CAD Manager's Survey 2005

6 Sep, 2005 By: Robert Green

It’s once again time to deploy the CAD Manager’s Survey and take the pulse of CAD management.  I’ll tabulate this year’s results and publish them in the November issue of Cadalyst magazine. I’ll also include expanded coverage in the CAD Manager’s Newsletter that same month.

In this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll go over some reader feedback I received following the last issue (click here for archives) and share my approach to tabulating the survey data.

Take the Survey

To take the CAD Manager’s Survey 2005, go to my web site and use the CAD Manager’s Survey 2005 link.

Please pass along this information to any CAD managers you know who don’t subscribe to this newsletter.  My goal is to surpass last year's response rate of more than 600 CAD managers and provide the greatest database of CAD management information on the Internet.

And now, a look at reader feedback I received about survey topics outlined in the last issue and how I’ve used that feedback to refine my list of survey questions.


As always, everyone wants to know what they should be getting paid.  However, many readers wanted to dig deeper into this topic, asking about benefits, bonuses, profit-sharing and other alternative forms of compensation.  This year I’ll include survey questions to measure how many CAD managers receive these types of compensation.  As several readers pointed out, total compensation value includes all of the above methods of compensation, so our survey should cover them.

When I tabulate the data on this topic, I’ll include both a raw salary number and another value that indicates the total value of all compensation.  The survey last year did not tabulate extended compensation data, so I won't have anything to compare with this year’s results.  I'm very curious to see how many CAD managers receive extended benefit packages as opposed to how many are on an hourly pay structure with minimal benefits.

In addition to total compensation, I’ll also examine salaried vs. hourly compensation models.  It will be interesting to see if the now four-year-old trend toward part-time CAD management has resulted in a surge of hourly, rather than salaried, CAD managers.

Budgeting and Purchasing

Several readers asked for more detail in determining budgeting and purchasing authority for CAD managers.  I’ll include survey questions that ask about actual amounts of purchasing authority, overall size of budgets and participation in the budgeting process to get a better feel for what’s happening in this area. 

When I tabulate the data, it should be interesting to see whether smaller budgets, less participation in the process and lack of purchasing authority correlate with part-time CAD management, or if these factors are a trend across the board.  I also hope to draw some conclusions about whether CAD managers have a seat at the budgeting table or whether we’re being collectively pushed out of the process.

Billing Pressure

I received a great amount of feedback from CAD managers who are desperate to find a way to deal with billing pressure.  It seems that many CAD managers are under much more pressure to be billable, with less time spent on overhead activities.  Of course, this trend correlates with the move to part-time CAD management, but it seems the CAD managers are truly being squeezed in the middle.

I’ll add some survey questions to gauge the amount of desperation in the CAD management workforce.  Though it will be difficult to get a quantitative analysis, I believe that qualitative judgments can be made by asking questions that can be answered Yes or No.

Staffing Issues

The strongest feedback about staffing issues relates to CAD managers’ lack of authority over staff that refuses to follow procedures or standards. I will address these issues under the CAD standards and frustration items categories in the survey.


Additional questions for the training portion of the survey will address budget levels, available time, use of external resources and management expectations.  I hope to get a much clearer picture of what CAD managers are expected to do with training programs and the reality of the resources they have to make it happen.

CAD Standards

It’s no surprise that I received many comments in this area.  The overwhelming feedback indicates that CAD standards are difficult to enforce, and management does not help in doing so.  I will add questions to this section of the survey to address how you communicate with your management and whether you feel management supports your efforts to enforce CAD standards.

Some additional questions will attempt to gauge what strategies are being used to enforce standards.  I hope to draw at least some correlation between successful CAD standards enforcement strategies and management interaction that we can all take advantage of.  We'll see.

Career Questions

It seems that the key career question I received was actually about salary.  Many CAD managers, and I suspect most of them are part-time, think they’re undercompensated and question whether they've made a smart career choice.  Therefore, I will pay more attention to tabulating the data metrics of security and job satisfaction.

When I tabulate the data, I’ll see if there's a correlation between compensation and job satisfaction or part-time status and job satisfaction.


Surprisingly, I received no significant feedback about this politically charged trend.  One interesting piece of feedback I did receive was to ask how CAD managers are using standards to make outsourcing more efficient.  I’ll add some questions in the CAD standards section of the survey to determine whether outsourcing is being controlled by use of standards.

Frustration Items

I received a few more frustration items from readers that I will add to the list.  The major change will be breaking down CAD standards frustrations so I can gauge which ones are actually the most frustrating.

What You Manage

I received a lot of interesting feedback in this area.  The interesting trend to note was that small-company CAD managers had a great number of questions about what they should be managing to be most effective, while large-company CAD managers tended to have more questions about how they should be managing. 

To address the situation, I’ll correlate the number of CAD machines managed with the tasks that are perceived to be important.  By correlating this data, I should get a picture of what small-company CAD managers deem their most important tasks, then compare those against the same list for large-company CAD managers.  Perhaps some interesting trends will emerge.

Wrapping Up

I'd like to thank all the readers who sent suggestions for the survey.  I greatly appreciate your feedback, as I do your readership.  Don't forget to take the survey, and don't forget to tell your CAD-manager friends.

For the next three issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll be examining some trends in the CAD software business: changes in training delivery and software tools, low-cost CAD tools and data exchange between various software packages.  These are some key areas of business that are changing how we work, so it makes sense to pay attention to them. 

Until next time.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!