CAD Manager's Survey 2010, Part 2

26 Oct, 2010 By: Robert Green

Robert Green examines survey results about compensation, job security and workloads, corporate spending and training, and authority in the workplace.

This edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter picks up where the last one left off in reporting the results of my annual CAD Manager's Survey. In this installment, I'll provide news about the economic situation in which CAD managers find themselves and how their jobs have changed since my 2008 survey (prior to the global recession).

I conducted the 2010 CAD Manager's Survey in September 2010, and approximately 194 readers provided input for this survey. The 2010 survey occurred roughly two years after the 2008 survey, which allows me to compare the pre- and post-economic meltdown worlds of North America and Europe and the effects on CAD managers and their jobs. Here goes.

Compensation Changes

Given how much economics have changed in the past few years, I wanted to measure more than just salary levels. Some interesting results and conclusions follow.

The bad news remains bad in terms of compensation. The survey indicates the continuing trend toward cutting or freezing compensation levels.

From the survey responses, the salaried and hourly CAD managers said:

  • 21% have had their pay cut since 2008
  • 36% have had their pay frozen since 2008
  • 43% reported no pay cuts or freezes since 2008

Although these statistics don't seem very good, at least the overall compensation has only dropped 2% (see "CAD Manager's Survey 2010"), so the pay cuts haven't been too drastic.

Layoffs and Project Load

To gauge how busy companies are, I used the good, old-fashioned gut-feel method of measurement. I simply asked CAD managers to choose the response that most closely described their situation. The measured responses are:

  • Working and really busy: 26%
  • Working and everything is fine: 23%
  • Working, but business isn't good: 35%
  • Worried about being laid off: 8%

I also asked whether survey takers had been laid off recently. Here are those results:

  • Yes: 12%
  • No: 88%

The news here is a little better than what I discovered in the 2009 mini-survey, because this year 43% of CAD managers reported bad conditions at their firms (as compared with 50% last year) and 26% reported being very busy (as compared with 10% last year). On a personal note, I believe the results of the survey echo what I see in the marketplace, namely that the economy seems to have hit bottom for most, but approximately 10% of companies are near economic death.

The percentage of firms conducting layoffs in the past year (61%) is only slightly better than last year's results (65%).

My conclusion is that things seem to not be getting worse and may even be getting a little better — but not enough better to generate new jobs for CAD managers.

Hardware, Software, and Training

Experience has demonstrated to me that when money gets tight, companies cut back on hardware, software, and training budgets. To see if things are getting better or worse, I decided to survey readers about these topics again and contrast them with the results I got in my 2009 mini-survey. Here the results for 2010, with the 2009 numbers in parentheses:

Have you stopped purchasing new hardware?

  • Yes: 37% (52%)
  • No: 63% (48%)

Have you stopped renewing software subscriptions?

  • Yes: 22% (30%)
  • No: 78% (70%)

Has your training budget been cut?

  • Yes: 29% (54%)
  • No: 71% (46%)

These results are the "good news" portion of the survey, because spending on hardware, software, and training is no longer decreasing. I'm not convinced that spending will go up much, but at least more companies are open to modernizing their hardware and software platforms and training their users.

Still, with 22% of companies no longer renewing CAD software subscriptions, this situation must be very chilling to the software companies who've become dependent on the constant stream of annual revenue those subscriptions provide.

Finally, the significant positive trend in training budgeting might mean that companies are training now to be better prepared for when things get better.

Hire/Fire and Budget Authority

Want to know how much authority CAD managers really have? Then ask yourself how much money they control and how involved they are with staffing decisions. Check out these significant statistics with 2008 survey numbers in parentheses:

  • 51% (35%) have influence in hiring and firing.
  • 16% (19%) can fire personnel.
  • 28% (no data) can discipline but not fire personnel.
  • 18% (20%) can purchase items on their own.
  • 21% (15%) have influence over budgets.

This area also provides good news for CAD managers. Why? Because at least we're being included in hiring, disciplining, and budgeting more than we have been. Although we may not be able to fire staff or spend money on our own as much as we'd like, CAD managers are recognized as valuable contributors in these processes.

Simply put: If you control staffing and money, you have power; if not, you don't. I am heartened by the fact that more CAD managers have discipline authority.

Summing Up

In the next installment of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll explain how you can respond to the declining economic power reported in the CAD Manager's Survey by calculating your worth. Until then.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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