Monday, July 10, 2006

Delivering the Goods in the 21st Century

I am currently studying the options for a MEP firm that has been using AutoCAD for the last 15 years. Their AutoCAD has been highly customized. There are great standards in place and the whole company seems to know what to do to get construction documents out the door. CAD has been clicking along here for some time now, but there is an ever-increasing pressure to be able to deliver something more than the competition. So there’s that question, ABS or Revit? As I have been talking to architects and owners to determine what is best to deliver, I have come to a conclusion, which will probably make me unpopular.

Are you reading Norfolk-Observer?

The clients are asking for everything. They want AutoCAD. They want a Revit Systems. They want Building Systems, and they want them in every version they make.

I have spent the last 15 years trying to raise the level of AutoCAD intelligence in the world to give firms a competitive advantage only to discover that it’s time to raise the bar again. We need confident CAD users who are fluent in 3 CAD languages. That's no small task in front of all of us. Some power users will be willing and excited to learn more, but other folks do not handle change so well. Especially a change that requires them to change the way they think about design.

We have been using AutoCAD to draft. It has always been about the construction documents. Engineers engineer and pass it to a draftsperson to create CDs. There have always been some designers that design and draft, but for me it has always been a mostly polarized process.

When I think about Autodesk software it always shakes out like this.

AutoCAD is best for drafting.
Building Systems is best for designers.
Revit Systems has the tools engineers need.


If I’m right, everybody is going to have to take it up a notch. We will need drafters who understand enough about design to use ABS. We will need designers who understand enough about engineering to use Revit, and engineers’ should be expected to embrace an engineering tool made just for them.

So what’s it going to take? A giant step back, to look at what we really need to deliver. We will have to create new processes based off each deliverable. Proper expectations must be set with owners and architects for these new deliverables. There will be a lot of training involved here no doubt on top of a huge financial investment in software and a new approach to the distribution of software between users.


It’s funny, but for the first time I will be using this blog site as a kind of diary. Chronicling the plans, the successes and failures as I go. Up next time will be my first steps toward a 3-prong approach to CAD dominance. Success, failure or waste of time, we’ll all learn something.
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