CAD Management: New Employee Orientation


Hiring may be on the rise in your industry as the economy shows signs of recovery.  Hiring new employees to join your design teams can energize your staff’s ability and focus in CAD and BIM.  It can also derail your efforts to keep things on track.  Because the mix of team members impacts the entire team’s ability to get things done and stay within guidelines, you need to take steps to ensure that it is managed well. Each new employee has differing abilities, responsibilities, duties, background and experiences. All of this blends together to either make your team stronger or to weaken it.

What you want to give them

You must, I repeat, MUST get new hires up to speed on your firm’s CAD or BIM standard.  This means that you need to have a formal process for doing that—or at least an informal one. 

The formal side may include introductory training in the standard and the projects and other items of special note.  This may take two to four hours or a whole day. It can be spread over several days in small chunks.  It may include assigning a mentor to work with the person.  It may include a project liaison to get the new hire settled in.  I have seen many formal processes that include handouts, instruction, lectures, and more.  It depends on your firm’s culture as to how formal this may get.

The informal side may just be you sitting down with the employee in the first week and have a casual conversation about how your firm approaches the use of your design tools.  Talk to the new hire about where things are located, how to access support files, who to go to for help if you are not around.

Here are the major areas of CAD you need to make sure that new hires know and that they stop doing it in other ways. (Note: BIM has other areas.)


1.      Standard Folders – names, locations, relationships, contents

2.      Project Names – numbering, names

3.      File Names – complete definition, how they are created, what folder they go in

4.      Layer Names, Line styles, Pen Weights

5.      Pen Tables – CTB, STB

6.      Lettering Fonts and Sizes – when used, fonts, style names

7.      Dimension Styles – exact names, all terms defined

8.      Drafting Symbols – your basic symbology

9.      Xref Usage – naming, content, attachment method

10.   Layout tabs – names, format, page setup

I have written on this subject on my blog ( and you may want to check out the CAD Standard category on that site.

What they bring with them

Their standard. All CAD and BIM users have a standard they have internalized.  It comes from using the tools and the environment in which they were associated.  Each person either fully embraces a standard that the firm provides or they pick and choose what to follow from that standard.  They may also mix in their own personal perspective on the best way to construct files and models.  The concern is that this mixture of personal standard and another firm’s standard will infect your environment with methods and processes that do not fit.

New hires will start off doing it their way unless you step in.  They will start working in the groove that they settled into from their old firm.  They will begin to ask questions of others and start suggesting other methods that may not fit your firm’s perspective.  This is often subtle and silent in nature. They may not ask any questions at all and just do CAD and BIM the way they want to or are accustomed to doing.  This will not work well as you press forward with the standard that your firm uses.

What you want to get from them

Find out what they were doing at their old firm.  Ask about the standard.  Do they have a print copy of it that you could review?  Maybe there are some good ideas that you should think about embracing.  Don’t just write off everything they do as being “wrong.”  The standard that you use should be a blend of great ideas and concepts that were gathered from many areas—even from other firms.

If you find good ideas that should be investigated, ask new hires about how their technique worked.  Maybe they have more information than the standard mentions.  Get their input but do not make any promises about allowing them to use CAD or  BIM the way they used to or express your intent or desire to embrace their ideas.  The Standard that you have in place must govern all files/models created.

New hires generally make your firm stronger, but, unmanaged, they can weaken your firm and the CAD product you are providing.  Keep on track with new employees and know what they are doing to your files.

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