Moving to the Skills area now. It differs from the Character portion of this series. Character is who you are, Skills are what you do. I am not going to list a long march of skills that define every last thing that a CAD Manager does, but rather a shorter list of the skills that I think make the most differences between a competent CAD Manager and a great one.
Some of these slop over from the Character list, like Communication, Sharing Knowledge, Reporting, Documenting and many more. These Character traits that motive you internally also drive the outward efforts that each encourages. A desire to share knowledge and communicate will spill out as effective interactions with others. Character traits have to generate outward expressions – or you start wondering if they are internally driven at all.
So if the internal Characteristics of a CAD Manager drive the outward Skills, what would those skills look like?
Tech Skills – one giant bucket – this one covers every area and is the entry fee for moving from CAD User to CAD Manager. I lump everything together under Tech Skills because these have to be in place and rock solid. So what are some tech skills that are not directly linked to the character traits we discussed before?
Programming – An ability to increase productivity by using the embedded tools inside the software to increase speed, accuracy and consistency. The API’s that many start with include AutoLISP, VBA, Object ARX and more. Other more advanced tools also present themselves.
Customization – Using the Autodesk interface tools like templates, keyboard shortcuts, ToolBars, right-click customization, block creation, menu CUI, and so much more.
Staff Management – The prowess to work well with others. Gathering, organizing and moving teams forward. Knowing how to motivate individuals in a team effort.
Financial Skills – Knowing how to create and manage a budget. Knowing when to adjust and refocus funds toward strategic goals. Knowing the processes your firm uses to approve spending beyond just asking your boss.
Prioritizing – One of the most valuable, and least used skills that I think a CAD Manager needs. Always rethinking what to do next. Always taking the time to look up and around to see what is going on at your firm and with your tools and then change focus and direction as needed.
Troubleshooting – knowing how to dissect a problem, no matter how big, into bite size correctable tasks. Being able to follow clues and leads, weigh evidence and make a judgement call on how to get things fixed.
The final installment of my short list of character traits. These are also known as soft skills. The people side of things. The intangible inner perspectives and habits that make someone who they are.
Flexibility – Ability and willingness to go the extra mile, put in more hours when needed. This is closely tied to Dedication but presents itself as the ability to change direction on short notice. It also includes the understanding that work on routine CAD support issues cannot be ignored.
Passion – A love for CAD and BIM work. Not begrudgingly done. Not annoyed by mundane and repetitive tasks. Approaching every aspect of your work with vigor and optimism.
Productivity – Looks for ways to increase output, avoid unneeded steps, reduce time wasted for themselves and others. Puts productivity of others above their own. Seeks to make others tasks easier even if it makes their own a little harder.
Humility – Admits mistakes, take responsibility for errors, shares success, avoids prideful boasting. Stands confident on their own abilities without making others feel inferior.
Teachability – Willingness to learn from others, modify behavior as needed, admit and address shortcomings. Knows that they do not know everything. Never stops learning.
Next – On to Skills
Let’s take a look at the next set of characteristics.
Having a Plan B – Defines back out strategy as part of planning. Quickly develops options if things derail. Is not overly optimistic to the point of not thinking about things going wrong. Knows when to put plan B into action.
Team Player – Works well with others, hands off work, delegates, delivers on time, reports progress. Teamwork can be defined in many ways – here is something I wrote on it a while back – What is Teamwork?
Innovation – Thinks about new tools and methods that might improve the organization. Combines existing processes and methods into new approaches. Refines existing procedures to make them work even better.
Dedication – Completes tasks and projects 100%. Strive to not have to do things twice or return to a problem that was left uncompleted. Stays focused on a problem or task until it is done. Sets aside other tasks when needed to work on critical items.
More to come.
Continuing the thread of this series about what I think a CAD Manager should have as far as character and skills. Here are the next few:
Organized – Keeps track of tasks and deadlines. Knows how to prioritize. Is aware of others priorities and how they impact their own. Uses tools and methods that help themselves stay organized and lets others know that structures are in place. Generates structure where none exists.
Planner – Investigates, develops options, selects best option, breaks down large processes into smaller steps, and verifies/shares plans with others. Ability to prioritize efforts as projects move along. Knows what needs to be worked on next. Seeks to help others plan their work. Shares plans with others.
Quality Driven – Takes pride in work product. Works beyond “good enough”. Tests and verifies solutions. Strives for best outcome. Stays with a task or problem until the end user is satisfied. Avoids “do overs”. Does not have an attitude of “I can just fix it/finish it later”.
Documentation – Documents and shares processes, procedures, access, controls. Understands that everything that is done in a shared environment of support needs to be documented and stored in a shared location, secured as needed. Creates documentation that non support staff can also use as applicable.
Reporting – Notifies stakeholders of progress, problems and completion. Keeps stakeholders informed as the project progresses. Notifies all about delays and road blocks. Understands that a job is not done until all stakeholders know that it is completed. Knows that fixes must be reported so others can then move forward on cascading efforts that were held up.
Still more to come…
Recently I was involved in a process where I had to define what I thought the personal character and skills of a CAD Manager should be. I pondered this question and started jotting down my first impressions. It was a concise list that did not go into great depth on each individual characteristic, but just provided a quick summary for each area.
I realized that the list kept getting longer and also included items that I wish I exhibited all the time. This list is a goal and something to reach for.
Here is what I came up with:
Customer Service – A focus on people with respect, tactfulness, patience, graciousness and a desire to serve. Never be annoyed by end user problems. Keeping the end users productivity in mind and not their own ease. Listens well.
Communication - Ability to discuss CAD/BIM areas at high levels with Support Staff and at understandable levels for non-CAD/BIM staff. Keeps end users advised of progress when troubleshooting a problem. Reports to management when solutions are in place. Let’s others know what is happening and what is coming next.
Sharing Knowledge – A willingness to tell others what caused a problem, how it was fixed and how to avoid it in the future. Does not withhold technical information from other support staff. Constantly looks for opportunities to share what they know with all users. Passes out tips and tricks to everyone they come in contact with. Always offers more information.
Initiative – Constantly looking for areas to improve. Does not wait for others to assign tasks. Looks for ways to assist others. Researches troubles on their own to find solutions. When they see something that needs to be fixed – they fix it. When they know what needs to be done, they do it – before something breaks.
Proactive – Looks for ways to prevent problems from happening. Looks into new areas before others ask about it. Searches for information when something new comes along. Looks for new technology even when what is in place works well. Reviews all areas on a regular basis to verify functionality and productivity.
More to come
Here is a great link that I was informed about. (Thanks Charlotte)
It has a great list of AutoCAD Shortcut keys for Mac and a printable template that you can use to add to your keyboard.
Here is an example. Get the full PDF here.
Like most people, I have documents, data and information stored in Google Drive. Like most IT people, I am concerned about backups. I find that I have backup processes in place and multiple options. I have backups of my backups. I have cloud backups and local hard drive backups and external device backups and thumb drive backups. I have backups.
Here is a snippet from one of their “about” pages I found…
Rather than storing each user’s data on a single machine or set of machines, we distribute all data—including our own—across many computers in different locations. We then chunk and replicate the data over multiple systems to avoid a single point of failure. We randomly name these data chunks as an extra measure of security, making them unreadable to the human eye.
While you work, our servers automatically back up your critical data. So when accidents happen—if your computer crashes or gets stolen—you can be up and running again in seconds.
Lastly, we rigorously track the location and status of each hard drive in our data centers. We destroy hard drives that have reached the end of their lives in a thorough, multi-step process to prevent access to the data.
So – they back up all the stuff they have… but what about my data? how do I back that up myself?
Enter Google Takeout.
Google takeout allows you to download to a zip file that you can store on your hard drive and backup yourself.
Just log in to your Google account and go to https://www.google.com/takeout
You can select what to backup:
And then hit Next
Select any options you may want in delivery – you can add it directly to Google Drive. That would not address my desire to have the data in hand, so I choose the download option.
Then click on Create Archive. It does its work and sends you an email when completed. Once it is done, you get an email from “Google Takeout” similar to this…
Your account, your data.
The Google data archive you started on February 24, 2015 is ready. It will be available for you to download until March 3, 2015. The archive contains your +1s, Bookmarks, Calendar, Drive, Google Photos, Google Play Books, Google+ Circles, Google+ Pages, Google+ Stream, Groups, Hangouts, Maps (your places), Messenger, Profile, and YouTube data.
Manage archives – click to see all archive
Download archive – click to get your archive
Just click on the link and get your stuff. Your download times out, so go get it prior to the expiration date.
It downloads your zip and you can store it anywhere you like.
Could not be easier. Give it a try!
It is interesting to me where former Autodesk staff end up. Over the years there have been so many transitions that it is hard to track, but I do notice when a name pops up in the news.
Jay Bhatt, former Autodesk AEC SVP. He was responsible for Autodesk’s global Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Solutions Division. He presented at Autodesk University many times. If you were AEC related – you should have heard about him or from him.
He is now with Blackboard - on the educational side of things. Here are a few recent articles.
From a recent FAQ on the topic… “Autodesk is gradually transitioning new software purchases for our products to subscription options only. In the first phase of this transition, new seats of standalone desktop software products will generally be available only as a Desktop Subscription beginning February 1, 2016.”
This is the next step in ADSK’s slow march toward this licensing model. This will make a direct connection between you and Autodesk realted to the ongoing use of the software we all love. But not if you already have a product. Again from the FAQ “Customers who have purchased a perpetual license prior to February 1, 2016, will be able to continue to use those licenses.”
Here are the products effect now:
- 3ds Max®
- AutoCAD LT®
- AutoCAD for Mac
- AutoCAD LT for Mac
- AutoCAD® Architecture
- AutoCAD® Electrical
- AutoCAD® Mechanical
- Inventor ®
- Inventor® Professional
- Inventor LT®
- Maya LT™
- Navisworks® Simulate
- Navisworks® Manage
- Revit® Architecture
- Revit® MEP
- Revit® Structure
- Revit LT™
Find out more via two online FAQs: Perpetual Licensing Changes and Autodesk Standalone Perpetual License Discontinuation Public FAQ (PDF).