CAD Management Book Review

I have to admit, I’ve been kind of dreading writing the article on Toolbox. It will involve installing the software several times, breaking and fixing Toolbox, going through all the settings (again) and trying to see the + and – of all of the different controls and possible usages. Several of you said you’re looking forward to it, so that’s even more pressure to get it right.

So of course I’m totally avoiding it. Honestly, I’ve had a lot of other work to do in the past week, I just haven’t had the time to dedicate to this research project that I need to do it justice. But I am kind of energized by this CAD Management issue.

So I read a book. I picked up Robert Green’s Expert CAD Management. I inquired about Ralph Grabowski’s book on the same topic, but it was 6 years older than the other book.

I’ve seen Robert Green’s name thrown around on the AutoCAD sites as a CAD Management guru. I have never really read anything else by him, nor visited his website prior to researching his book.

The book gets a lot of praise on the Amazon site. The first thing I did was to read through the table of contents. It became immediately apparent that the book was primarily concerned with management rather than about the technical side of the issue. There is literally only 2 pages of information on managing a SolidWorks installation, and none of that is relevant for anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the software.

Green’s perspective is decidedly old-school. In most scenarios he proposes, SolidWorks is a big, hard to use 3D system, and the easy to use stuff is AutoCAD, which always has more users. He seems to assume that CAD management happens in a company with a bevy of “drafters” whose main skills include knowing how to draw lines with AutoCAD, and the word “design” doesn’t seem to occur to him. He doesn’t acknowledge that engineers sometimes use CAD or that not all CAD users report to a CAD Admin.

The book doesn’t deal AT ALL with technical details such as part numbering, file management, libraries, installation details or licensing, but is very concerned with “managing management’s expectations”. After reading all of this I expected a chapter on “dress for success”. This is very much a  book about the philosophy of managing a group of technicians. It will help you look good to upper management, but it won’t teach you much about the real nuts and bolts of your job.

I know the type of information covered in this book is important, but is it the ONLY thing that’s important to CAD Managers? I had hoped that it would be evenly spit between management and technical data. I don’t believe you can be a good technical manager unless you are a real student of the actual technology. Nor do I believe that Green’s assumption of a 1950s sweatbox drafting department is the most valid option.

With all of that said, his suggestions on how to figure out what your job is and how to communicate with management, while often obvious or common sense, are presented in a very methodical way.

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