CADDManager on June 1st, 2005
This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Migration Madness

Most firms have an unspoken distaste for upgrading their CAD environment.  The existing software may be working quite well and they don’t want to interrupt projects and productivity.  They have no time to train their people in the use of the newest versions. They don’t have the time or the budget for upgrades.  Sound like your firm?

CAD Managers are called on to lead.  You must move the users, management and your firm along.  No one wants to get left behind. Sometimes you must coach and sometimes coerce people into the future.  But your migration must be planned, well thought out, well coordinated, and executed with talent. Over the next few Hot News issues, I will be sharing migration stories, plans and lessons learned.  

Ruminating on Reasons

This month we will start with reviewing the issues surrounding a migration.  It is imperative that you think through the reasons that may exist in your environment for making a move.  What are the driving forces? What are the rewards and risks?

CAD Users

Some users want to move ahead, sometimes faster than you can keep up with.  Your users are constantly in need of refining and updating their skills. Their career path includes knowing the latest software.  If your industry is expanding then the skilled worker is worth more. If your industry is tightening up, then the more skills the user has the greater his marketability to the outside world.  So your users are thinking about keeping up with the rest of the world.

Some users are fearful of change.  Some of them are pushed to the edge just keeping up with building codes, guidelines and industry demands.  Asking them to learn a new tool or update their skills can send them over the edge. They may bristle at the thought of another training session and actually exude negative feelings about moving ahead.

Management

Obviously your firms management wants to gain more work, produce your designs fast, better, cheaper and reduce needles expenditures.  They look at most technology through this lens. If it can achieve these results, they will rally behind you.  

So what may be driving them to make a move to the newest software release?  Client demands? Having a technology differentiator? Increasing Productivity?  Unleashing creativity? Or better, what may be hindering them from making the move?  Too costly? No time? Status quo is fine?

Training

One of the biggest sticky points in a migration is training time and budgets.  The biggest obstacle to training may be carving out time. It is a double whammy.  Freeing up your users for training involves first getting them off the project (removing them from billable work) and then paying them for the training hours (overhead dollars). 

You must be able to argue a case for holding the training. What is its purpose? What return is expected from the training? How does the training relate to the design purpose? Do they strengthen your productivity? How will you measure the success of the training?

Financial constraints

Whether you prescribe to financial measures such as return on investment (ROI) or qualitative measures such as return on expectations (ROE), the ultimate objective is the same – i.e., generate the greatest benefit at the lowest cost.  The value of upgrading can be maximized by either increasing the benefits or reducing the costs. Of course, upgrades that offer the greatest benefits at the lowest costs are the most attractive.

The Industry

Is your industry moving ahead?  Are you being left behind? It is surprising to me to see how interested people become when you start talking about a competing firm and what they are doing with their software.  Do early adopters get burned? Do laggards get left behind and spend more time and money playing catch up?

Conclusion

So there are many areas to think about when deciding when and if you upgrade your software.  How many of you have been down this road and can share some of your good advice to us all. I believe that collectively AUGI members have seen just about every obstacle, pot hole, road bump and also our share of triumphs, narrow escapes and successes.  Let’s start sharing. Feel free to post a comment about migration on the AUGI forum about this article or in the CAD Management forum or e-mail me.

Better yet – take the May AUGI Survey about Migration at http://www.augi.com/surveys/survey.asp

Series NavigationMigration Madness – Part Two >>
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