CAD Manager's Survey Results, Part 2

25 Jan, 2006 By: Robert Green

A closer look at the frustrations of today's CAD manager

In the November issue of Cadalyst magazine and the last edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I published findings from the CAD Manager’s Survey 2005. This week I’ll finish my coverage of the survey by focusing on workplace issues such as frustration items and job security issues. If you haven’t had a chance to look over the initial coverage of the CAD Manager’s Survey, I recommend you do so now to have a proper context for reading this issue. Here goes.

Frustrations Analyzed

I wanted to take the pulse of the CAD management market by finding out which tasks were the most problematic for the greatest number of CAD managers. I presented a list of common frustration items I’ve collected over the years and asked the survey audience to rank them in order of greatest frustration.

I added new items to the list for the 2005 survey, so I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of outcome. Here are the results:

  • Not having enough time (26%)
  • CAD standards enforcement (20%)
  • Not having enough authority (13%)
  • Dealing with management (12%)
  • CAD standards development (10%)
  • Lack of budget (6%)
  • Training issues (5%)
  • Too much pressure to be billable (<2%)
  • No response (<2%)
  • Providing user support (<2%)
  • Other (<2%)

Interesting Outcome, and my Conclusions

To be honest, the ranking of the frustrations surprised me a bit. My guess was that the CAD standards responses would come in somewhat higher and the managerial issues somewhat lower.

I’ll present my conclusions in the same order as the survey priorities.

Not Enough Time. Moving up in the survey from last year, not enough time to do the job has taken over first place on the list of CAD manager frustrations. This shows, without a doubt, that CAD managers are collectively feeling the pinch of managing more software, more users and more jobs than ever before. Survey data over the years has validated the conclusions that more CAD managers than ever before are part-time now and that more CAD managers are subject to more job production pressure than ever. It appears that the increased pressure and the need to manage more software packages with ever less time has finally reached the boiling point for many CAD managers.

CAD Standards Enforcement. Historically the top complaint in past surveys, standards enforcement drops to second place this year. This result does surprise me. When I speak to audiences of CAD managers, I do informal polling by show of hands, and CAD standards enforcement is always the top vote-getter. It may simply be that when you’re too pressed for time (frustration item No. 1), everything else becomes secondary. I’ll continue to keep an eye on CAD standards enforcement as I speak to CAD managers this year and will take care to survey my audience members about time pressures as well.

Not Having Enough Authority. This is a common complaint among CAD managers for as long as I can remember. This year’s survey places this frustration factor at No. 3, down a notch from prior years.

Dealing with Management. This is another common complaint that has moved up the frustration list from last year. I suspect that lack of time to do the job and lack of authority combine to form some frustration in most CAD management environments. Then again, almost all of us have experienced frustration in dealing with our management at some point in our career. What I do note is that the percentage reporting the frustration has risen.

CAD Standards Development. Interestingly enough, developing CAD standards is only half as frustrating as enforcing them. If anyone thinks that CAD managers are frustrated with CAD standards in general, this survey result shows that few CAD managers have problems with CAD standards; they simply have trouble enforcing them. This dovetails with the lack of authority and dealing with management frustrations higher in the list.

Lack of Budget. I find it very interesting that lack of budget ranks so low on the list this year. I have seen substantially higher levels of hardware and software spending over the past two years, which would explain the trend partially, but I suspect that most CAD managers see budget levels as not having a whole lot to do with their main frustrations, which tend to be time and managerial issues. In essence, the survey seems to validate the idea that no matter how much a company spends, it doesn’t make that much difference to the CAD manager if he doesn’t have the time and authority to make it all work.

Training Issues: As is true for budgets (or lack thereof), training issues are relatively well understood by CAD managers. I suspect the key frustration related to training is that CAD managers don’t have as much time to allocate to running the training program as they would like.

The remaining items garnered very low percentages of responses, so I can’t really draw any conclusions from those.

Summing Up

This latest CAD Manager’s Survey points to a CAD management workforce that is substantially more pressured and frustrated than in years past. In future issues of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I’ll concentrate on providing more tips and tricks for leveraging your time to achieve higher efficiency on the job. I’ll also point out easy ways that you can report to your management so they’ll know what you need and how to better support you in your role as CAD manager.

I hope this series on the CAD Manager’s Survey 2005 has helped you gauge the market and determine where you stand in terms of salary, job responsibility and job description. It’s my goal to provide you with survey information that’s timely, topical and helpful. If you have any ideas for improving next year’s CAD Manager’s Survey, please e-mail me and share your thoughts. Until next time.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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