Perfect Your Fundamental CAD Technology29 Apr, 2015 By: Robert Green
CAD Manager Column: Before you push to adopt the latest cutting-edge hardware and software developments, optimize the tech you already have.
In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I shared some market data that highlights a trend many CAD managers have experienced: much slower technology adoption than the PR firms and CAD companies would have us believe. The validation of the trend got me thinking about the following key question: If new whiz-bang technology such as CAD in the cloud, 3D printing, software rentals, and virtual reality simulations aren't taking over our offices anytime soon, then where should we focus our attention instead?
In this edition, we'll explore some of the many answers to that question, with an emphasis on practical possibilities that CAD managers can use to prioritize their task load. Here goes.
If we aren't concerned about futuristic new technology in our office, then it stands to reason that we should focus our efforts on the technology that is already implemented and strive to make it better, right? After all, without the drive to make things better, we'll simply become CAD caretakers and stop progressing in our careers.
Unfortunately, there are obstacles to applying that "let's make things better around here" logic in the workplace. They seem to always come down to one or more of the following objections:
- According to senior management, technology that has already been implemented should be running optimally already, and shouldn't require the investment of any more time. (Of course, the company's accounting system was implemented eight years ago and they're still messing with it, but that's a rant for another day.)
- Users express reluctance to do anything different or better, often saying things such as, "I have already learned how to use the software, so why should I change anything now?" (I call this mental inertia, and it is difficult to overcome!)
- Project managers express pessimism in the CAD manager's ability to improve things, making statements such as, "We've just got this running, and now you want to mess with it again?"
All these factors combine to make optimizing existing software harder than you might think. This is why so many CAD managers get stuck supporting the same problems day after day, never seeming to make any progress.
One strategy for implementing better procedures on existing software platforms that I found very useful is to simply focus on reducing errors. After all, making mistakes costs money, and senior management loves to save money! Therefore it stands to reason that by lowering our error rate with existing software technology, we can generate savings — and savings is bound to get management buy-in. This is the only way I know of to deal with Objection #1 above.