CAD Administrators vs IT?

Let me get one thing straight, this isn’t meant as an attack on any one group and I’m not trying to single any group out. This is just my opinion on where I think the effort and skills should come from after almost 20 years in the industry.

I’ve always had a strong opinion when it comes to CAD Administration and Management, having been in this area now for the past 10 to 15 years, that CAD Administration and IT should always been treated as 2 separate groups. When I started out drafting most of the CAD Admin work was done by the IT group with the same old attitude that has been around since the dawn of time. Log a call, expect to wait a few days and don’t suggest ways to make improvements. It’s the sort of attitude that might work fine for an IT\Help Desk group, but just doesn’t wash for Engineering Systems. 

If CAD users have something that doesn’t work, then it needs to be fixed NOW. We can’t afford to wait even half a day. I can just imagine the reaction of a Project Manager when the Lead Designer says they can’t deliver drawings on time as they are waiting to CAD Support to get back to them, but to this day we still fight with Business Unit Leaders to be recognised as part of the engineering group and not another IT sub-section.

The presumption exists that all software is an issue for IT, the biggest failure with this is that we assume that CAD and Engineering software can be managed (or not) in the same way. How many firms using CAD packages fail to take full advantage of how the package can be configured to take full advantage of customisation and refined workflows? Not only that, how many IT groups do you know put the effort into beta testing CAD software and have the ability and knowledge to teach new users and long term users how to better use the software? They’re left to fend for themselves and make do.

How many firms fully utilise the customisation of the GUI to make it easier for users to find commonly used tools, custom tools or discipline based tools? This is all work a good CAD Admin group should be doing for your firm and if they aren’t, then firms should be looking for CAD Admins who can supply the training so those who look after their CAD Systems can manage things better. Other basics such as online tutorials, well written and up to date help files, administration manuals that clearly explain workflows. All of these should be part in parcel of any good CAD Admin group.

In this day and age of CAD systems, ‘Out of the Box’ should not be an acceptable state of affairs. Firms are always looking for an edge on the competition and better use of CAD systems is a good place to start. Whether it’s MTO’s, custom printing routines that take out the guess work or custom title block routines. All of these are ways in which a user’s CAD experience at your firm can be enhanced, and believe me when I say that firms who have nailed their CAD environment become a place more people want to work. Just ask users who have made the rounds who they would rather work for and why and I bet you most will remember their good CAD experiences over their bad.