Managing a CAD provision within an organization is never easy. You have the usual pressures of getting drawings out on time that are accurate and meet the client’s requirements. Working in a small-to-medium size firm, the buck stops with you. You wear many hats: CAD manager, hardware-procurement specialist, support provider, and bottle washer. So how do you keep all of that bolted down and make sure you stay on top of industry progress?

1. Software Upgrades. Software upgrades are essential because technology programs (such as AutoCAD) are constantly being researched and developed. Without upgrading, you will not see the performance and productivity benefits of the new versions, and you will not be able to apply those benefits to your business.

Autodesk provides the Subscription program to ensure that you have the latest software versions. Once signed up, you can get upgrades (and service packs and updates) free of charge. Obviously, there is the initial outlay to pay for the Subscription program, but that’s it. It is a one-off annual fee. In addition to upgrades, there are many other benefits of subscribing, such as the online training program. The program allows you to track your CAD team’s progress through the exercises, monitoring how well they are doing and identifying the areas that may need further training. It makes your team more knowledgeable and smarter, all for the cost of a one-day training course. Not bad, eh?

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2. The Cloud. Have you jumped into the cloud? If you haven’t, you should. The cloud is becoming a major force in the CAD world. It provides storage, apps, and mobility to any CAD user. Autodesk 360 is the cloud-based offering from Autodesk. The basic-level entry provides you with 3GB of online storage space for your drawings and documents. All it takes is signup with an Autodesk ID (username and password). Once you are signed up, there are a large number of cloud-based apps on offer from Autodesk. There are too many to mention here, but check out AutoCAD 360. Once your drawings are stored in the cloud via Autodesk 360, you can load them straight into AutoCAD 360 via your computer, tablet, and even supported smartphones.

Think about it: Autodesk 360 runs on a tablet, such as an iPad. Instead of trekking around with the usual brick of a laptop, where the power supply weighs more than the laptop itself, you could be attending site meetings with just a tablet with about five times more battery power and about a tenth of the weight. Plus, the tablet uses mobile connectivity, not just Wi-Fi, so you can always be connected to the Internet (signal permitting). What a relief!

3. Online Support Mechanisms. Have you ever needed to talk to a member of your CAD team who is based remotely? A large number of people work from home due to varying factors, including location and family commitments such as childcare. Your team members could be working in another office in another country or could be on a project site just a few miles away, but they may want your assistance with their CAD software, guidance on a project drawing, or an opinion on a design detail.

cad systemsAutodesk 360 (and online apps such AutoCAD 360) have built-in social networking technology that provides a chat tool similar to Messenger where you can converse online about a drawing or a design.

Do you use Google Hangouts? I don’t just mean to talk to the grandchildren. Hangouts is an amazing, free business tool. You can show your screen during the call so that other people can see the drawing/design. A picture paints a thousand words.

There are also other apps out there, such as GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and GoToTraining by Citrix where you can hand over control of your desktop to someone remote and vice-versa. These products make for great support and collaboration tools, and their costs are not prohibitive. Think about how much it costs to travel to another one of your offices. GoToMeeting will cost less than a tenth of that per month. GoToTraining provides a superb internal online training provision, allowing you train both internally and externally. Other similar products are Microsoft’s LiveMeeting and WebEx.

I have only scratched the surface here, but these are just a few of the strategies you can build into your business to work smarter and more economically. If you are using GoToMeeting, consider GoToTraining for your internal company training. It will save a packet on finding expenses to travel to external training courses. Also, make sure to check out Autodesk 360 in the cloud. The cloud and the Internet are the way forward.

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