Thursday, November 18, 2004

The “Typical” CAD Manager

Does this sound familiar? Andy was a good designer. Eventually he became the lead designer and supervises a core group of other designers. He wishes he had more training as a supervisor. The combination of employee supervision, overseeing the CAD systems, and still doing some production work can be overwhelming. The priorities seem to be production, then employee issues, and then the CAD systems – until something goes wrong. Long hours trying to keep up are common for Andy. Many days Andy is just numb, worn out, exhausted, and wishes he was back in production.

How about this? Gomer is the “IT guy” at his job. He manages the network, the hardware, and the software. He knows a lot about computers, but doesn’t know much about design. On most days Gomer feels like he is making a difference by helping the designers and engineers, but he knows there have to be better ways of doing things. He is trying to learn more about the CAD system on his own time.

Bea doesn’t have a title like “CAD Manager” but she’s been a designer since “before CAD existed” and has already forgotten more than most people will ever know about drafting and design. When management made the decision to “try” CAD, they chose Bea and a few other experienced designers to take the plunge. Actually, they pushed Bea into the deep end by sending her to a couple of weeks of CAD Training before she had ever touched a computer. After flailing around wildly for awhile, she eventually “got it” and actually began to feel like she was being productive again. About that time they sent her to training again for a different (i.e., less expensive) CAD system. She treaded water for awhile again, but used what she had learned with the previous system to get productive again. She’s now on her fourth system, having received less training with each change. The “real” CAD Manager at her company depends on Bea’s experience when making improvements.

Barney is eager to make his mark. He’s been to school. He considers himself a professional. He thinks the CAD Standards at his new job are archaic. He brought along some symbols and programs he has collected over the past couple of years. He had to work around some of the IT policies to use them, and has shared them with some of the other designers. Most days Barney thinks the entire management team couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag.

Opie is the new kid on the block. He’s had CAD training, but doesn’t have much experience. Even without experience he is the “guru” most people go to with CAD questions. He doesn’t get paid any extra for troubleshooting CAD challenges, but he spends more and more time doing it. He does wish he got more recognition (and pay) for the extra work he is doing.

As you can see, “typical” is difficult to define. Some CAD Managers supervise production staff, others don’t. Some CAD Managers are part of the production staff themselves with the additional responsibility of supporting CAD. Other CAD Managers are “super users” in their discipline or company.

How about you? Are you a CAD Manager? Send me an email and tell me about your job responsibilities, official title, and the title of your supervisor. You can also take our “Typical” CAD Manager Survey.

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