Spring into Standards, Part 3: Take Action on Your New CAD Standards

24 Apr, 2018 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: You’re off to a great start on revamping your company’s CAD standards to make work processes more efficient — but how will you prioritize the implementation?

In the first and second installments of this series on CAD standards, I discussed methods for revamping your CAD standards. Hopefully you were able to go through the diagnostic questions and create the checklists to get started. (If not, then you may want to do so now so you’ll have proper context for this installment.)

In this installment of Spring into Standards, we’ll focus on getting your new CAD standards in place. After all, why go through the planning and communications stages, only to have your efforts fizzle out due to lack of action? This time, I’ll share some strategies for getting the standards ball rolling. Here goes.

Hold the Meetings, Collect Data

You’ll recall that in the previous installment, we broke out the various groups that can be affected by CAD standards like this:

  • Users
  • Project managers
  • IT personnel
  • Senior management.

We then set up meetings with each group to go over proposed standards, validate concepts, and collect data. Now it is time to conduct these three meetings (while users and project managers both get their own meetings, we arranged a combined meeting for IT personnel and senior management).

Also recall that each meeting has a suggested communication strategy, so you can attack key issues in a way that is easiest for the group in question to understand. Your task now is to have these conversations, and take copious notes on what you hear.

Examine and Prioritize Data

Once you’ve conducted your meetings, it is time to interpret the data you’ve collected. I like to approach this task by asking these questions:

  • Were there issues that consistently arose in every group discussion?
  • Were there issues that were extremely important to a single group?
  • What were the most important issues reported by senior or IT management?

Now you can create a standards plan based on the answers to these questions. Start by creating a raw list of CAD standards issues using these strategies:

Issues that are important to everyone. If every group you talked with says the same thing, then you know with certainty that everyone will agree to attacking that problem. For example, if users say they need a standard set of construction details to save time, while project managers (PMs) say their users are creating detail sheets far too slowly, whereas senior management says CAD time spent on projects is way too high, then you know that standardizing construction details will be a winner.

Issues of high importance to a single group. If one group has an important standards problem to fix, you know that group will support solving that problem — but what about the other groups? For example, if PMs tell you that creating final document sets in collated PDF files always takes too long, will users support changing their processes? Conversely, if users tell you creating final PDF sets is too complicated, will PMs and senior managers support the time and money needed to implement a new software utility? If you can find consensus between groups, then attacking that standards problem will be a winner.

Issues important to senior management and IT. If senior management has strong opinions on any CAD standards issues, they will almost certainly be those related to finances or saving time. If IT has strong opinions on CAD standards, they will almost always be about hardware specifications or security. The trick with interpreting this data is to clearly understand the business purpose behind it. For example, if senior managers are telling you that the amount of CAD rework is way too high, then they want you to do anything you can to cut project hours — which means standards should be well embraced. On the other hand, if IT personnel are telling you that they can’t do any wide-area network (WAN) updating or secure a new cloud application, then you know that you’ll need to halt any standards that rely on WAN speed or cloud services.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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