CAD Standards

I had the privilege of developing the company CAD standards (I use the term “privilege” very lightly ;) and was given the title of CAD Manager while employed at a large engineering / architectural firm in southern Ontario.

It must have been my "wide eyed determined to make a difference attitude" that drove me to persuade upper management that a CAD manager is much needed to calm the chaos between the different departments.

The architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical, land development and waste water departments had been using different standards.

When it came time for the departments to work together on a project, i.e. structural and architectural, more work was necessary to integrate each others work.

Getting the Job

Convincing upper management to utilize me as a CAD manager was relatively simple.

Here’s what I said:

“To get all the departments working together more efficiently a company CAD standard should be developed.

This will save the company $$ in productivity and make every CAD users job easier.

And I’m your man to do it!”

They reviewed my experience and background in CAD (I was just a number to them before this), considered my suggestion and promoted me to the title of CAD Manager / Technologist. (promoted, hmm...)


I was immediately given the responsibility of organizing a company wide CAD standard. This huge task also included the associate offices across the country as well.

Developing and Implementing CAD Drawing Standards

Great! I was on it; day and night, putting together a CAD standard that I felt sure would harmonize the entire matrix of the company; well, related to CAD at least.

Memos were sent to the head or representative of each CAD department, indicating a meeting date, along with an outline of the new standards.

Meeting day came… and my desire to synchronize the CAD departments quickly left me… along with most of my self esteem.

Not What I expected

It was a complete disaster! Every item I had carefully organized was scrutinized, criticized and, basically, unaccepted by a select few gurus set hard in their ways and nothing-better-to-doers with, well, nothing better to do.

Obviously I had expected some criticism, but what I didn’t expect was the complete lack of respect for the task I was given.

Sure, some of my colleagues were with the company longer and were more experienced, but as far as I was concerned, I was given the responsibility of putting together standards that would help the architectural department work together with the structural departmentand the structural department work together with the mechanical department… and so on.

This was not a flex contest, not to me. It soon became apparent to me, why there was no CAD manager before me. Why no one had stepped up to the plate.

During the meeting, some representatives seemed to be in agreement with the new standards, but they kept quiet about it. While others had their own ideas and preferences of what a CAD standard should be. Few wanted to lean towards anything resembling global synchronization.

Management Evades and Passes the Buck

After the meeting I reported the dismal minutes to the top brass. Management nodded its head and thought it best to have another meeting and keep working towards a company wide solution, while keeping every department in the loop.

So on and on we went, meeting after meeting, for months and months… and got absolutely no where! (Except for agreeing on a standard company title block ;)

Where did I go wrong? Was it me? Was I a poor CAD manager?

No. It wasn’t me. I was not the problem.

If I was the problem, management should have replaced me and enforced someone else’s standards.

As a matter of fact, my critical colleagues were not the problem either.

So what was the problem?

The company's upper management did not enforce the drafting standards that I was hired to create.

They did not send a memo to each and every department manager, CAD department head, and CAD operator, indicating:


ABC Engineering and Architectural Incorporated
Office Memo


“Please find attached your new CAD standards as implemented by the CAD manager. These standards must be adhered to, are in the best interest of all departments, and are now company policy.”

Sincerely,
President of Company


Period!

When upper management did not do this, it became clear how being evasive and passing the buck can trickle down the ranks and cripple progress.

Not that the upper management didn’t know how to properly manage operations from a purely engineering or architectural perspective, but from a "computer drafting and design standard" point of view they did not have a clue.

And that is why they hired a CAD manager; specifically to develop a company standard for the purpose of bringing the CAD departments together more efficiently and maintaining a norm by which even new employees can easily get up to speed.

Bottom Line?

Once a firm’s management decides to integrate a CAD manager into its system it must enforce the standards and rules that were developed on its behalf.

Otherwise the process of developing the standards becomes a vicious circle of deferrals, delays and buck passing.

It would seem, that the final push to get effective AutoCAD standards underway lies with upper management.


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