CAD Manager: Tips for Your Tricks

April 4th, 2014

Reading the article in AUGIWorld’s Tips and Tricks edition can overwhelm you.  There are so many good things to glean from the top-notch writers who share their expertise in brief.  The topics they cover provide real-world, time-saving information. You may be wondering just how to implement all of the good information and get it in the hands of your users.

Beyond AUGI publications, there are so many places to find ideas on improving performance and production in CAD that is can stagger the mind.  What should you share and not share with your staff?  What kinds of things should you pass along and what should you try to discourage your staff from using? 

You cannot control everything that your office and users can access. You need to know how to approach the sharing and spread of information.  You may even have to prevent the migration of tips that actually negate standards.  You cannot prevent users from looking online, texting their buddies, posting on AUGI, calling someone where they used to work, or emailing a friend.  So what are you supposed to do with the wide array of tips and tricks that come across the wires? How do you protect the files from being corrupted by some trick that someone read?

Make Sure Your Staff Knows the Standards

The best defense may be just embedding the standards into your users.  Verify that they know what is expected and that they understand the need to hit the target.  The bottom line may not be that they follow some exact steps in creating their CAD and BIM files, but that the finished product matches the standards that are set.  Having milestone check points along the way can help.  Checking the files along the way will ensure that they do not stray from the standard too far.

Have Staff Share with You First

Developing an environment that places you well into the flow of information takes some time.  You should nurture your users by interacting with them as much as possible so they feel comfortable with sharing their ideas, tips, and tricks with you.  Encourage them to come to you with tricks that they think are really effective.  Let them know that they can share—and get credit for—their best ideas that you pass on to others. One of the ways you may shut down the flow of information is to not give credit to the person who brought the idea to you.  Do that once or twice and people will stop the supply of good ideas flowing toward you. They will continue to share the tips, but you will not know what they are sharing.

Define What Should Be Shared

As mentioned, you want to share the good stuff that reinforces and supports your standards, production, and processes.  Weeding out those items can be a chore if you think you need to review every one of them.  There usually is no need for that level of concern.  Most of the time the tips and tricks are innocuous.  Many are just shortcuts to the same ends that would take many steps.  Ninety-five percent of them fall into three categories.

  • Category One are the tips that work great and help you move forward. 
  • Category Two are the ones that work well, but are unusable.  They don’t really apply to what you are doing and are not useful to you. 
  • Category Three are the ones that are bad, don’t work, make things worse or even corrupt your files.  I have seen the ratio of 2/6/2.  Out of 10 tips, 2 will be great, 6 will be of no gain or not work for you, and 2 will actually be bad for your environment.  But the two great ones will be worth all the trouble of the other 8.

Share Tips and Tricks, Not Troubles

There are some things you want to watch out for.  You want users sharing their best ideas, but not the troubles that might arise from using them—things that, if shared and replicated, can cause problems.  Some of those may include tips that set layer names or define blocks.  Some of them may change settings or create items in your files that are hard to detect.  Things like Wipeouts and Anonymous blocks should be avoided if they cause problems plotting.  I would take a long look at suggestions that include inserting Excel files or database links.  

There are many more areas that may cause you concern. Keep these in mind as you review what your users are sharing.  When you find someone sharing tips that are not fit for your environment, let them know why.  They need to know the story behind the restriction.

Share and Share Alike

I encourage users to share tips.  AUGI is built on sharing.  Your firm should embrace sharing efforts also.  Users like getting tips and distributing tricks.  No one likes someone who hoards information.  Collectively, your staff can do great things as long as the sharing is mutual, includes you and watches out for those items that may cause users to stumble, files to fail, and projects to veer off into problems.

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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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