Many think that in order to get out of an economic slump we need to spend our way out. Politics aside, is that what needs to be done in your firm? Spend money on CAD?
Face it – your hardware and software are getting old. Have you ever thought about things that used to be viewed as "new" have become "old?" 2D is now considered old by many. Hard copy output is considered old. Desktop computers may be used by many, but are looked at as old by those who use laptops.
When does this happen? When do the things that we were so excited about getting become old hat? Outdated? Unusable?
It was not long ago when I thought that my new laptop was a screamer. Now it appears to be more old than new. It was not long ago that my AutoCAD 2006 was stable and new and usable and fast. Now it is tired and old and I have moved on to newer releases. If your firm fails to spend on technology it may start impacting the firm as a whole.
Spending on technology is a roll of the dice that may pay off in rewards that can benefit your firm if it can think that far down the road. By updating your software toolset and your hardware platform, you may be able to prep your firm for the next leap forward. But is the time right to do that now?
Timing is everything
Planning upgrades and spending money on software is something that every CAD manager has to be good at doing. Move too soon and you have spent money needlessly. Move too late and other firms may jump ahead of you. Timing is critical. So how do I know when to urge my firm to pull the trigger? Here is some advice.
First, be prepared to move at all times. Knowing where you would spend you CAD dollars at any given time will make you more nimble and ready to move. If the firm decides to spend a little, you need to be ready.
Talk about spending even if there is no money to spend. I am not saying that you go in and ask your boss to pop for the latest release, but you should let him know what the needs are and what the benefits of spending might achieve. Have some data that supports your findings and show it to them when you get the chance. Read the climate of the firm. If things are really tight, then delay your conversations.
See if they will allow you to spend if you can cut elsewhere. Define what the savings might be for cutting some things and have it tied to spending in another area. Try not to allow all of your savings to be spent in other areas. Some of your savings should be used for overall firm buying, but not all of it.
Make sure that management knows how you are increasing productivity without spending money. Show them that you can do much with very little, but that at some point there will need to be some spending. You cannot postpone purchases very long without impacting production.
Nurture a perspective in others that spending on the right technology can set you apart from others. Investing in technology differentiates you from other firms. You can increase your ability to win projects and deliver success.
Negotiate hard. When you have the opportunity to buy, get the best price you can. It sounds like common sense, but some do not push for lower pricing or greater services when they talk to vendors. They just get a price and pay it. Now is not the time to do that kind of buying. Vendors are hungry for your business and many will work hard to earn it. Be reasonable but firm in your objective to get the best deal possible.
Finally, it may not be a time when your firm can afford anything. Tightening budgets and shrinking bottom lines are causing many firms to continue the purchasing embargo that has been in place. You need to work creatively with them to see what can be done.
It is not easy to get your budgets approved and purchases made, but with a little effort you may be able to make some progress.