Thursday, July 27, 2006

First Steps

Well right out of the gate, if you want to implement new software and change processes, you'll have some things to nail down and a lot of issues to deal with.

1) Sell the idea of changing software to management
Everybody's boss is different but here are some ideas based on ABS.
  • Drafting speed will increase
  • Engineering tools available
  • Improved accuracy in scheduling
  • New level of standardization - layers, styles, dwg management
  • Direct interoperability with ADT
  • Near automatic background clean up with ADT drawings.

Now I also had to point out some problems

  • Long setup process
  • Mandatory education for designers and engineers
  • Process changes make old-timers upset

Everything you say at this point can and will be hit with an objection. Try to focus on the big picture idea that this change would over all be beneficial even if some of the parts were not adopted and others are optimized. They all go together to make the process and product better.

You may be asked to back up your promises with some sort of fact. Robert Green counts mouse clicks and so do I. Pick the processes that you see the most benefit in using and count the mouse clicks. Weigh that against the old way to quantify the time by clicks, then multiple by the number of users and the average number of times per day they may use the process. Now it's pretty simple math for how many days will it take to make up the cost of the software and initial slowdown on productivity.

Here's an example.

Drawing a single open ended lentgh of 2 line duct with a label in AutoCAD takes a minimum of 10 clicks counting each keyboard entry as a click.The same duct can be done in 5 clicks in ABS. Let's say a click takes 1 second and my average HVAC drafter draws duct about 4 hours a day. If that drafter is making just $10 an hour, I'm saving $20 a day per drafter. Ok, I have 5 mechanical drafters so that's $100 a day. If they work 230 days a year that's a savings of $23,000 on drawing duct faster alone.

There are plenty of assumptions in there and things that may or may not apply to you. The idea is that you stack enough of these processes and time savers together to give your managment confidence that this really is going to make a difference.

That was ABS. Revit was similar but different. Harder to sell with it's shortcomings. See my previous post on the subject.

2) Sell the company on the matter

You may be surprised by the level of fear in some employees. The whole thing once announced can cause quit a bit of conversation at the old water cooler. A company wide meeting to set a common and correct expectation of what is to come, will go a long way to help stiffle rumors before they start working against you and the process of change. Plus, everybody needs information to help them feel confident about major changes to their job.

Next time, I will be talking about where to go from here.

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