Tuesday, January 03, 2006

So you want to be a CAD Manager?

For the talented CAD person, becoming the CAD Manager can be the ultimate goal. Do you match the profile?

The CAD Manager Profile

1. Passion for technical as well as business processes and objectives.

2. A clear vision of success and an adaptive plan to achieve that vision with quantifiable results.

3. Ability to lead, delegate, communicate, motivate, inspire, teach, speak and write.

4. Driven task completer, objective decision maker and life long learner.

Well, that’s a tall order. If you are willing to give it a try, then read on. I will be drowning you in the details that separate the geeks from the gods.


Bullet 1
Passion for technical as well as business processes and objectives.

Let’s assume you are already passionate about the technical. So here I go on the management thing again. I keep stressing that you need to think like your boss, that it’s a business and that you’re not going to go far if you don’t continue to grow. So the trick is to take that passion for the technical that took you from lines to lisp and let it grow to streamlining company procedures and dropping the bottom line in the context of what’s best for the company not what’s best for you are the CAD department.

Bullet 2

A clear vision of success and an adaptive plan to achieve that vision with quantifiable results.

A clear vision of success means know what you are trying to do. If you know what you are trying to do, you stand a much better chance of getting it done. Now, I don’t mean the things that you do everyday, like fix plotters, answer CAD questions, and try to make standards. I’m talking about your objective, your purpose. For me, success was to have the smartest CAD people. I wanted my newest CAD user to be as smart as the next guys CAD manager. Smart CAD people are lazy draftsmen. They’ll get it done faster and better.

Other really great objectives.
· Create effective standard procedures and enforce them
· Identify and repair bottlenecks and breakdowns
· Reduce Drafting time and increase design time
· Increase the effectiveness of the design team to include inside and outside consultants
· Insure that YOU (the CAD manager) saves or creates more income than you cost
· Take your company to a new technology level that enables your company to acquire jobs your competition can’t and establishes you as the expert

Now you need a plan to obtain your goal. It’s hard to provide a plan for every situation. That’s why you need to be able to adapt to the changing parameters that effect every business. Stick with your plan, but don’t follow it blindly. When it’s time to adjust, do it decisively.

Lastly, be able to quantify that you have done something. This means knowing where you started. Facts, not feelings. Can you quantify how many CAD hours are in a typical sheet? Can you say your CAD users are smarter now than they were? Can you say how much a typical plan, detail or schedule sheet costs? Gather all the facts you can before you start, so you have a baseline. Test your users, track hours and costs. Do whatever you can to know all you can about what it takes to get a set of drawings out. One, because you can use that baseline data to show forward momentum later and two, you will uncover a lot of opportunities for improvement from the get go.

Bullet 3
Ability to lead, delegate, communicate, motivate, inspire, teach, speak and write.

I’m breaking down eight aspects of one thing here. Be more. To be more, here are eight places to start. Consider doing all of these outside of work as well as in your office. If you are recognized outside of your firm, you are move valuable to you firm.

Bullet 4
Driven task completer, objective decision maker and life long learner.

I don’t have a whole lot to add to this. Finish what you start. Be ready to make hard decisions and defend them. If you don’t want keep up with technology, serious consider a career assembling cardboard boxes. They don’t seem to change much.

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