The previous section of this article helped you through the process of performing CAD software comparisons; in this final section, we take a look at the CAD software training and implementation process and how to ensure that they have a minimal effect on day-to-day operations.
The most important thing to keep in mind once you are ready to install your new CAD software is that you should not implement it if you are in the middle of a project. There are a couple reasons for this -- one, training staff on the new software will take valuable time away from that project, and two, you won't want to risk data loss as you transfer documents from one application to the other. (This, obviously, is less of a concern if you are upgrading to the newest version of a CAD software package that you already use.)
Once that project is finished, installation can begin. The length of this process will vary, depending on the number of users you have and whether you are installing the CAD software on your network or on an individual machine.
At that point, CAD software training can commence. Again, the length of this process will vary. If you are using an upgraded version of the same software, then training will focus almost entirely on new features. In this case, documentation from the CAD software vendor will come in handy. If, on the other hand, you are starting from scratch, you will need to budget significantly more time for CAD software training, especially if there are architects or designers at your company who are new to computer-aided design.
As the CAD software training and implementation processes continue, you may encounter resistance from users who would rather stick to tried and true methodologies, either with pencil and paper or with older CAD software versions. When this happens, it is important to emphasize the benefits of the new CAD software package -- data centralization, improved accuracy, integration with cost estimating software and the potential for Building Information Modeling. One way to do this is by point to case studies that highlight what other companies have accomplished since implementing the same CAD software.
Keep in mind that, for a large deployment -- across an entire department or even the entire company -- your vendor should, as part of your license agreement, be involved in the CAD software training and implementation processes. Even if there is nothing specific in your license agreement about these processes, don't be afraid to call the vendor with any questions or concerns.
In addition, CAD software training help is available from user groups and online forums. User groups provide a good opportunity to meet those in your geographic area who use the same CAD software packages that you do and who thus have the same questions and concerns that you do. These groups can also point you to additional training and certification opportunities at a regional or national level.
Meanwhile, online forums, such as these DataCAD forums and user groups and these AutoCAD user communities and discussion forums, give you a chance to search among the questions frequently asked by fellow users or, if you appear to have a unique issue, pose a question for your peers. (Make sure your question is as specific as possible, as this increases the chance that you will receive a more immediate response.) Social networking sites such as LinkedIn or UPworld will also provide an opportunity to connect with other users.
Regardless of the CAD software that you choose, always remember that you are not alone. Both the vendor of the software and its users should be readily available to help you if a problem arises -- and if they are not, then it might be time to search for a different CAD software package. In that case, our list of CAD software vendors will help you get started.