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Design Technology Leadership: Standards and Processes on Autodesk Products

Introduction

This article highlights standards and best practices for design technology management across design firms. Firms using strategic collaboration get an enhanced return on investment (ROI) that enables them to reach and build pioneering success on the prowess of human capital. We will showcase the processes involved in delivering the vision of firms’ management to achieve digital leadership in the industry. Design leadership has multiple facets and can be summarized as the Three Ps: Projects, Processes, and People. We focus on Processes in this excerpt. Design leadership is at its best when it creates the best processes and standards across all projects by raising the people skills. This article will help hone and develop tomorrow’s leaders to lead the change and pioneer digital leadership across firms.

Design Technology Leadership

Design technology is the study, design, development, application, implementation, support, and management of computer and non-computer-based technologies for the express purpose of communicating product design intent and constructability. We are at the cusp of a technology revolution and the design and construction industry is adapting to the new pace in an ever-changing world. This change requires the right people to shepherd and lead the community and industry in the right direction. Design technology leadership thus becomes ever so critical to enhance the spaces that get designed for the future and help us all make a better world through Autodesk products.

Process: Implement and Manage Design Technology Leadership in Your Organization

Process management refers to aligning processes with an organization's strategic goals, designing and implementing process architectures, establishing process measurement systems that align with organizational goals, and educating and organizing managers so that they will manage processes effectively.

Assess, Align, Then Advance

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Technology Adoption

Don’t just traincreate opportunities to learn. Become a culture of learning. It's one of the earliest steps in your process you can take if you want to become a culture of innovation. Skipping this step cuts short the knowledge-sharing people in your organization, or “thought leaders.” An organizational growth mindset also suggests that organizations should move beyond training to thrive in the future. Research shows that intrinsic motivators are quite powerful, and people require autonomy, growth, and meaning in their work. Digitally maturing companies address this need by providing resource opportunities to help their professionals develop skills to thrive.

Culture of Learning

  • Research-oriented (not opinion-oriented) mindset
  • Knowledge harvest and leveraging that labor to pass on to others
  • Participate in online forums outside of the organization

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Finding the sweet spot of adoption.

 

The early adopters tend to spend more effort on fewer results and late joiners lack innovation value. The ability to peak at the right time stems from the judgment call to adopt technology at the right onset. This helps leverage the best of results for the minimal effort, driving efficiency and profitability for the firm.

Mapping the Technology Road Map

Company leaders or stakeholders often wonder how short- and long-term business goals can be matched to a specific technology while keeping costs and risks low. One answer is the technology road map and road-mapping process. Technology road maps are complex and have many nuances. A critical element of a technology road map is identifying the strategic goals the organization wishes to achieve. By communicating through your road map that you know why, what, how, and that you have an action plan, you stay connected to your business strategy and maintain a sense of key priorities, even when you’re presented with new information, according to www.ptc.com.

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Digital technology road map for a firm.

Digital Challenges

Any new system or technology that is adopted by your company will require some form of training for your employees and staff. To reach its full potential, new technology must successfully be integrated into an organization’s current business processes and systems. In other words, simply buying the new technology is not enough.

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Digital challenges.

KPI Dashboard Samples

Stop spending money and start investing. What’s the difference? Earlier this year, I was asked to be a panelist at Timon Hazell’s Your Desk University, and I made a statement about stopping just randomly spending money. Start acting like an investor. The best way you can build an ROI dashboard is to control all the factors that go into it, track them, and then provide an action plan. Include not just key performance indicators (KPIs), but also objectives and key results (OKRs). 

Example: We want to decrease the time it takes to deliver a project by a) running a design sprint in the SD phase; b) providing at least 10 design details that can be CD LOD 300 ready in the DD phase; c) automating at least three tasks during the CD phase.

If your team can do those things and show how the new way compares to how you “used to'' do it, you’ll see that you automatically shaved X number of wasteful hours out of a process, resulting in Z savings. This is an ROI that you are responsible for. Measure What Matters by John Doerr is a great resource. 

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Sample objectives and key results (OKRs) dashboard.

Tracking Adoption

When implementing any new technology or process, it is very hard to measure success or value without tracking any kind of metrics. At Shepley Bulfinch, we rely heavily on software usage data to understand what is happening in the business.

The next two charts outline the process of moving from one software to another. The first shows the number of emails being filed in Newforma versus TonicDM during the rollout and training process. Being able to track who is using each product not only enables us to see that we did successfully migrate, but also identify those who have not adopted the new platform and follow up with them.

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Tracking adoption of technology.

This second chart shows the usage of other Newforma activities after we finished the migration of folks using TonicDM for email filing. There’s a significant dip where our users decided to move over all their processes. These are positive deviants that indicate we may want to reach out to share experiences and convince others.

The second significant dip is where we create an artificial bottleneck: reducing license count below how many are using the product, down to how many we believe still need it based on their usage history. This allows me to meet with everyone who is currently using the product, and have a conversation about what they are doing, how often they might need it, and what alternatives there might be that solve the same problems for them.

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Technology monitoring usage.

We use the same strategies to track all kinds of process rollouts, not just for new software. Lately, all our Revit templates and family content include a shared parameter named Build Version. I can use Clarity to pull project model data weekly and identify who is using the latest families, who have older versions of families, and are there commonly used families out there that we don’t have in our standard library. By building data into the process, I can verify that the time spent building new content was helpful to teams, as well as identify new opportunities before they become a problem.

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Monitoring usage.

Not every process will have an easy method for tracking the data. Much like the need to embed a tracking parameter in the Revit example above, you may need to get creative in finding ways to see the usage of the software. For the example, I was able to have our IT manager run a report of every time a machine connected to the Enscape license server (see image below). Upon further analysis, we found that the license server gets called every five minutes while the add-in is running. So, from there I can get an accurate representation of who is using the program and when, compared to just the monthly totals I get from the Enscape website.

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Enscape usage.

Generative Design

Generative design is a design exploration process. Designers or engineers input design goals into the generative design software, along with parameters such as performance or spatial requirements, materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. The software explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives. It tests and learns from each iteration and can be a great resource to tap in better designs for the future. The ability to iterate and find the best design option is a great leap of progress in the architectural design process.

Autodesk Revit has integrated generative design, and this opens a plethora of avenues for designers to build or make anything. This cool feature can be used for daylight studies or even proximity studies to align the workforce seating in the age of pandemic.

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Generative design. Source: Autodesk.

Want more? Download the full class handout to learn about the other two Ps, People and Projects.

Ravi Wood is a world-renowned subject matter expert on digital design leadership and management of BIM projects across the United States, UK, Middle East, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, and India. He is a licensed architect from India VNIT and has a master’s degree from Kansas State University. Ravi Wood is an award-winning speaker at Autodesk University, Hong Kong BIM (HKIBIM), IFMA RICS Sweden, IFMA India, NY Design Expo, AEC Next, and several conferences across the USA, Europe, and Asia. He specializes in digital technology and BIM Leadership across top firms and has completed more than 100 projects worth more than $150 million, including airports, hospitals, infrastructure, stadiums, residential, commercial, and retail.

Jess Purcell is the design technology manager for Shepley Bulfinch. She leads the development and implementation of new technologies and workflows for design, delivery, and collaboration. She also manages a small team of design technology specialists. She has expertise in computational design, VR and visualizations, data analytics, and process automation. Jess holds a master’s degree in Architecture from Arizona State University and is an active contributor and speaker in the AEC technology community.

Ryan Cameron leads multiple teams for the successful development of architectural design projects while also helping to lead technology integration in practice. Ryan is leading digital design efforts at CMBA Architects that range in practice from data analysis, data strategy, parametric modeling, and data-driven design. He is evidence-based certified as well as a licensed architect in several states. Ryan possesses unique qualities to be a catalyst for change and adjusts the design technology trajectory of CMBA Architects to that of a leader among our peers and then maintains this position.

Companion Class

The class will highlight standards and best practices for design technology management across design firms. Firms using strategic collaboration get an enhanced return on investment (ROI) that enables them to reach and build pioneering success on the prowess of human capital. This class will showcase the processes involved in delivering the vision of firms’ management to achieve digital leadership in the industry. Design leadership has multiple facets and can be summarized as The Three Ps...

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