CAD Standards - The Process is
as valuable as the Product
I have spoken to many CAD Managers
who have asked me if I had a Standard they could use at their
firm. They want to have something that is well thought out
and has a proven track record. They want something that
they can just put in place and move on. They often say
that they don't want to waste time, or don't have the time, to
develop their own.
When I hear these kind of
comments - I cringe to think that they would take someone else
CAD Standard and slam it on Users desks and expect them to
Sometimes I have found
a great benefit in taking people through the process
of developing the CAD Standard (or reviewing it).
It needs to be done as a group. It is when you
struggle with the issue together that you all
benefit from the discussions.
underestimate the value of the
interactive process of developing your CAD Standard.
Let's say I just develop what I
believed to be the perfect CAD Standard. I cover all of
the needed topics. I create a nice book and get it printed
up and place it on everyone's desk. They open it up, give
it a couple of quick glances and place it back down on the desk
and return to work. They never really read it. They
never fully understand it. So they never really comply
The problem was not with my
creating it, but it was the fact that it was created apart from
my Users that caused the disconnect. They had no ownership
in it. They had no say in what was included. They
did not work through the issues and come to a unified
perspective. They we not involved.
I have told people in the past
that I do not care what you have as a Standard, as long as it
was consistently followed. It is not that I don't really
care at all, but that the specific layer names or colors or pen
weights are not the defining issue of a Standard. It is
the fact that the Users know it, follow it and get others to
CAD Standard = Teamwork
From start to finish, it should
be a collaborative effort. Include as many people as
possible. This does not mean that every person in your
office or firm should be directly involved. I work through
teams of people. Gather your teams if you do not have them
in place already. Some firms already have teams of people
dedicated to this process. Use them if you have them.
Let's assume you have no team or teams.
Check out my list of teams.
The Management Team
Start with upper management.
Pull them together and tell them how the process will work.
Tell them why you need a standard. Give them some form of
timeline. Have them assign someone to a team to develop
it. If you know who you would like to have on the
development team, then suggest those persons and get approval.
This is the group that actually
works through the standard. It should be made up of the
best Users in your firm. Those that have worked on a ton
of projects and have been using the software for some time.
These should also be longer term employees. They are not
new comers to the firm. They have a long history of know
what the firm expects to produce in CAD. You may have one
new hire in the mix, or maybe even a non-CAD user> The
former can generate new ideas and the latter can keep an overall
business focus and not get myopically focused on CAD alone.
Work through every issue one at
a time. Take as much time as needed to allow everyone to
contribute and understand the issues. Once it is in the
book everyone will be expected to follow it. Make sure
that they all understand that all of them will be following what
is in the Standard. They better contribute and be willing
When you create the Standards
book include the names of those that helped create it.
This serves two purposes: It recognizes the contributions of
those that worked hard in the process and it also creates a
sense of ownership. If they built it - they will use it.