Maintaining Your Environment

My car hit 75,000 miles recently and the “maintenance required” light came on. That means that I need to do some regular maintenance. Changing the oil, checking brake fluid levels, and rotating the tires may just be the things needed to keep my transportation needs met. Regular maintenance will keep a car running a long time. I do regular maintenance on my car pretty judiciously now.  It was not always that way. I have in the past run my cars dry, not only on gas, but also oil and other fluids. Letting things go without paying attention caused me some major problems.

So what about a CAD/BIM environment? Are there regular things that need to be done so that things run well? Do things just hum without you watching? Has it been a while since you have looked over the systems, processes, and procedures you have in place? Maybe a maintenance schedule is something you keep in your head. Maybe it is written down. Maybe you check things only when they break. Here are a few things you might want to look into systematically and on a regular basis.

Maintain Your Files

Just about all of the Autodesk products have an Audit command or something similar. AutoCAD has it and it can actually be run on multiple files called Batch Standards Checker. The Audit commands will clean up or notify you about issues. By regularly checking on the problems that can come with rapid design changes and multiple users interacting with the files and models, you can avoid some derailments in the future.

Don’t overlook the obvious tools like Purge, Overkill, Recover, and many third-party tools such as SmartPurger at JTB World.

Maintain Your Server

Go through and archive old files that are no longer used. Archive projects when they are no longer needed. This may be delayed until after construction is completed, so they may hang around a long time. Get rid of unneeded backups. People often copy files at milestones so they can go back if needed. These clutter up the server and project folders if they are not removed.

Maintain the Standard Libraries and Families

Many libraries and families are filled with very good blocks, templates, and files that improve your operations. Others may have leftover clutter. When people are testing things they may have older versions or variations. Clean off all of the iterations and keep only the production-approved one.  Don’t let the wrong component be used in your files. When you find bad ones, get rid of them.

Do Some Maintenance on Your Standard

If you have not reviewed your standard in a while, put it on your to-do list. You need to review it and remove/adjust items that are not used, ones that don’t make sense any longer, and those that are outdated. I am not talking about major changes—wholesale changes in the standards require planning and management beyond a quick fix.  While you are doing some cleanup, check to see if people are actually using the standard. Open a few random files and look around. See what you find. Don’t ignore those little deviations—address them.

Maintain Your Backups

Check on the backups. Are they working well? Are they stable? Restore something from backup just to prove that they still work as expected. Upgrade as needed. Catalog data in the backups so you can easily find it. Always keep your backups at the front of your mind.

Maintain Your Training Efforts

Don’t forget to train those who are using your systems. This may be the most important and most neglected area of oversight that a Tech Manager has. Train users in new tools, upgrades, and system use. Train new hires in the way your firm does things. Don’t let them bring in other methods that might degrade your environment. Tap into new hires for good ideas, but train out the ones you do not approve of. Train management in the reasons for your approach to tech. Keep them on your side by giving updates and reminders about the importance of standards and project methods.

Maintain Your Contracts and Agreements

Software agreements need to be reviewed from time to time so you are not caught flat when renewal times come up. Check to see if your seat count is correct. Adjust if possible for downturns in project loads and expand as needed for increases in staffing. When renewals come around, seek small additions such as training or extra tools that a vendor might make available free or for lower costs.  If your vendor is invoicing you monthly for services, review the billing. There are many ways for errors to get into billing or for you to pay for services you are not receiving.

Maintain Your Work Environment

I am not talking about tech tools now—I am talking about your office and your general office area. Tech staff can generate a lot of mess during a project. It might be hardware, parts, and cables scattered about. It might be project paperwork. It might be empty boxes and packing materials. Whatever it is—clean it up when you are done. When a project is finished, clean up.  When new hardware is installed, define what you will do with the old stuff and move it out. When you are leaving for the weekend, straighten things up. I have a flurry of paperwork, cables, hardware, and other items on my desk and floor while I am rolling out new tools. I try to clean it up on a regular basis or it would soon get out of control.

Maintain Your Relationships

Finally, do not forget to work on your relationships. People make the biggest impact on the productivity of your firm. Keep them happy and they produce more. Make sure you are talking to others on a regular basis. Walk around and make eye contact. Stop and chat with users and managers. Some key people may get on your calendar by you setting up regular meetings. Fifteen to twenty minutes every week or so can make great progress in your efforts to move technology forward. Make sure you connect with your boss and don’t forget the vendors. Keep the conversations going with all of them.

Suggestions from the Autodesk Knowledge Base Regarding Auditing Files in Revit

To best execute Revit file maintenance, please use the outlined steps below.

  1.  Periodically open the file with Audit selected (if the file is work-shared, Select Audit and Detach from Central).

  2.  Purge unused.

  3.  Review and resolve warnings (as many as possible). Excessive warnings can increase file size and greatly impact performance.

  4.  Save the file with Compact selected (if saving over the same file). If this is a work-shared file, it's recommended that you archive the original central file and its backup folder before saving in the same location with the same name.

  5.  Save the file with a new name—Compact will automatically be selected and this will compact the file further than just selecting Compact.

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