CAD Management: Too Good for Your Own Good?

November 28th, 2010

Using CAD software for many years can lull you into a near stupor - processing files, projects, and processes. These processing patterns can settle into ruts. You create the files the same way as you have before. You use the same symbols you have for years. You always get the right thing in the right file at the right time.

Am I complaining about your effective use of the tools? No, but your efficiency may get in the way of making some dynamic increases in your productivity.

Can your standards and expertise actually put you in a rut? Do you do the same thing the same way that you did two or three releases ago? Maybe even five or six releases ago? Can this actually prevent you from getting better at what you do? Can this make your files work harder than they need to?

The problem is that you may miss out on some of the best new features because you are too good at using the old features. Your production processes are so refined that you can do things faster the old way. And you might ask, “What is wrong with that?”

Getting locked into doing things one way might mean that you have adjusted the processes to the point that your teams hum and buzz with productive output. You are a well-oiled machine. You get things done fast and with ease. At some point though, this efficiency can backfire when some other firm leapfrogs over you and embraces the new tools that you have yet to use. You become outdated while you are still fine-tuning the machinery. You need to pop your head up every once in a while to see what is going on with others. I have heard it said: “Best Practices are outdated because you are perfecting yesterday’s methods.”

Best practices will not get you to the front of the innovation line. Innovative companies are not stuck in best practices from yesterday. They seek new ways of using old tools and embrace new tools that allow them to leap forward.

At some point the old processes, features, methods, and means will start to show their age. The easiest way to show this is to look back at the days before Paper Space was introduced. Most users were doing just fine without it, but now you are shocked when you learn that someone is not using it.

Some of the things that have come down the pipe may make you more productive if you make the jump to light speed. Here is a quick list.

2006
Dynamic Input (heads up display)
Dynamic Blocks
Quick Calcs

2007
The Dashboard
Enhanced 3D
Visual Styles
DWF Underlay

2008
Annotation Scale
More Dashboards
Expanded Layer Dialog box

2009
The Ribbon
Quick Access Toolbars
View Cube
Steering Wheel
Action Recorder
DGN Support
Modeless Layer Dialog

2010
PDF Underlay
PDF Output
Initial Setup Wizard
Hatching enhancements

2011
Mega 3D enhancements
Drag and Drop Materials
Enhanced Grip Edits
Web-based Help
ToolClips

These are just a few of the tools that can increase your productivity and you may not have looked at them yet. You do not have to be on the latest release to get more productivity out of the tools you use. Moving to the Autodesk 2011 releases might make sense for gaining the most enhancements, but if you fail to use them then why upgrade?

My advice is for you to take some time and look back at the “new” features that might actually be old by now. But they’ll be new to you. Try them and see how much you can boost your productivity.

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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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