CAD Manager's Newsletter #112 (August 12, 2004)

11 Aug, 2004 By: Robert Green

Believe it or not, the CAD Manager's Newsletter will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in a few weeks. Over these past five years, the hottest topic among CAD managers -- at least judging by the e-mail I receive -- is compensation and what a CAD manager actually does day-to-day.

To address these concerns knowledgably, I've found it invaluable to conduct surveys of CAD managers.

This year's survey will be substantially more detailed than those of years past. I'd like the results to be as complete as possible to give the best picture of life as a CAD manager -- so I'd like your help in forming the questionnaire. Below I've outlined the parameters I've developed so far.

Remember: This is NOT the actual survey. Please do NOT reply to these questions yet! Please DO look it over, then e-mail me your comments, suggestions, and ideas for how to improve the questionnaire.

This year's survey will be divided into logical categories, which I explain in detail further down. Here's a summary of the categories and topics I envision:

Work Metrics
- Hours per week spent on CAD management?
- People managed?
- CAD machines managed?
- Do you have hire/fire authority?
- Do you have purchasing authority?
- Do you use outside vendors/consultants?
- Do you perform in-house training?
- Do you prepare your own training materials?

Part-time CAD Managers Only
- Do you think your company needs a full-time CAD manager?
- Do you perform CAD management duties "in your spare time"?
- Do you feel you have a seat at the management table?
- Is your goal to become a full-time CAD manager?

Software Use
- Main CAD software package?
- Secondary CAD software package (if any)?
- Use of 3D (full, some, or none)?
- Do you customize your CAD software?
- If yes, do you customize it yourself or use a consultant?
- Do you know AutoLISP?
- Do you know VB or VBA?

- Salary?
- Do you receive bonus/performance incentives?
- What industry do you work in?
- Location (country)?
- Location (city, small town, or rural)?

Job Security
- Company growth (layoffs, static, or growing staff)?
- Has your company begun outsourcing?
- Has your job been reduced from full- to part-time?

Analyzing the work metrics of CAD managers helps determine trends in full-and part-time employment. By gauging how many managers are working part-time, I hope to determine whether CAD managers are becoming more or less utilized in the work force.

For those CAD managers who find themselves in part-time positions, I hope to determine if the perks of management (hiring authority, purchasing, and so forth) have been diminished by the move to part-time status. I'm adding questions that ask for qualitative judgments based on what the survey taker thinks is happening, so I can gauge the level of optimism for the job. Lastly, I'm asking whether part-time CAD managers aspire to full-time management positions.

By contrasting these results with previous survey results, I think we can gauge where the profession is moving.

As always, I want to see which software you're using and managing out there in industry. I've found it very interesting that over the years software marketing departments tout how much their advanced 3D packages have penetrated the market -- only to have surveys bear out the market dominance of plain-vanilla AutoCAD.

This year, I'm trying to quantify how many companies use multiple CAD systems and correlate that against how much these companies use 3D. CAD managers are in a unique position to describe how much 3D work methodologies have actually taken hold in their workplaces!

Lastly, I'm trying to get a feel for how much software customization is going on, who's doing the work, and what customization languages are out there. I hope to determine whether CAD managers are becoming more technical (a trend noted last year) and whether programming skills are becoming more important to the job.

I'll ask the obvious question of how much you are making and correlate the responses to factors such as how many machines/people are managed and where the company is located.

This data will help you determine if your own compensation is appropriate, and it will help me answer all those e-mails asking how much a CAD manager should be paid!

This category makes a debut this year to determine how secure CAD managers feel in their jobs. Metrics of growth and outsourcing will be considered so I can make a qualitative judgment about how CAD managers view the changing business landscape.

I hope to receive enough responses from participants outside North America to make some judgments about how outsourcing is really affecting CAD managers.

Please e-mail your comments about my proposed questionnaire to

In the next issue of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll let you know how to participate in the survey and will begin my examination of the state of CAD document management applications. Until then!