CAD Management Challenges, Part 2

November 30th, 2010

Last time we looked at a few items that can be challenging to a CAD manager. In this article, we continue the list from last month, which included challenges such as monotony, bad decisions, and budget cuts.

The challenge of compliance

We all have CAD Standards and we all wish that people would follow them. We take the time to make them complete, clear, understandable, and achievable. Still, there remain many who do not strive to comply. So what do you do?

There is no easy answer here except for this: never give up. You cannot stop pressing ahead with every effort that it takes to get users to comply. You can teach them, encourage them, demand it, send out memos, talk to their bosses, seek a quality check process; still, it could all be for naught. But you cannot give up. Take a breather, refresh yourself and start down the road again.

You are held responsible for making others productive even though you cannot "make" them follow any rules, guidelines, or standards - nor can you "punish" them if they do not. This really ties your hands and demands that you get creative in making sure that they comply. Just sticking with it helps.

The challenge of performance

You are charged with increasing the performance of employees, but have no input into their performance evaluations. Each year most firms do some form of performance evaluation. The "boss" defines how each person is doing compared to their job descriptions, duties, and responsibilities. Firms have differing guidelines that they use for judging performance, but I have yet to find many that gauge CAD proficiency on their list.

So the CAD manager has no way to document the proficiency of an employee over time. There is no way to formally document the good ones or the bad ones. There is no measurement that is used to really rank the effectiveness of someone's ability with CAD or BIM. You can spot the good ones. We all know who they are. Yet there is little that identifies the ones that are lagging behind.

Performance can be subjective. Each manager has to define the expected behavior, communicate it, and measure it. Can this be done in CAD?

The challenge of authority (or lack of it)

CAD managers do not hire or fire the people they manage. They oversee workers who are using the tools that they provide, but have no direct effect on their advancement or lack thereof. This limits the authority you may have over them. Since you cannot influence them in the same manner that their boss may use, you have to be a little more creative.

You do have authority if your senior management has vested it in you. You need to find out if they have. This is done by testing your authority. You cannot go out and try to fire someone, but you can test the waters a little. Ask to spend some money (not much nowadays). Change something without asking, such as access to specific server locations or lock down access to who can edit support files, like pen tables or plotter setups. You could also start checking up on employees' CAD files for quality, then share the information with the project manager to see if they correct the problem or just tell you to go away.

The challenge of work load

You don't get to accept or refuse the projects you have to work on. You can plan for the things that you want to get done, but those plans often get pushed back when something is given to you by others. Users may have needs. Management may have projects. Equipment breaks, files get corrupted, systems crash. It all falls on your shoulders. You have no control over when or how much.

Balancing your workload against the constant interruptions is tough. Break down your jobs and projects into smaller tasks that can be completed in smaller chunks of time. If you are developing a procedure, then work on getting the steps down first, then go back and refine it, then go back and add screen captures. Three tasks, one project.

You can also come in a little early, stay a little later, or work through lunch to get to the stuff you really want to gat done. That obviously would not be as fun as coming in late, taking a long lunch, and going home early, but that may not be the best way to meet the challenges of being a CAD manager.

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About the Authors

Mark Kiker

Mark Kiker has more than 25 years of hands-on experience with technology. He is fully versed in every area of management from deployment planning, installation, and configuration to training and strategic planning.  As an internationally known speaker and writer, he is a returning speaker at Autodesk University since 1996.Mark is currently serving as Director of IT for SIATech, a non-profit public charter high school focused on dropout recovery. He maintains two blog sites, www.caddmanager.com and www.bimmanager.com.

 

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