CAD Managers’ Corner – Preparing for Implementation – Part 3: The Proving Ground
In our last CAD Managers’ Corner post we talked about getting your BricsCAD workstations setup, configured and ready to start running production jobs. But before you take BricsCAD into full production some training will be required, and you’ll need to prepare for it. In this post we’ll examine an approach I like to call “The Proving Ground” to get BricsCAD ready for a full production roll out. Let’s see how.
Build a BricsCAD Proving Ground
What is a proving ground you may ask? A proving ground is simply a place where you can test out new software in a controlled environment and fix any issues found before rolling the software out to the user community. Much like car companies test their cars well in advance of public usage, we must test our BricsCAD implementation in a controlled proving ground environment.
To build the proving ground we’ll need a collection of users – test pilots – who are willing to put BricsCAD through real world production testing and provide feedback to the CAD manager. But more than just being test pilots, these users are also testing our training methods since they’ll be the first people to use training resources like books, standards documents or videos we provide. The BricsCAD proving ground therefore becomes the ideal place for the CAD manager to get new software battle tested, training plans verified, and build a base of experienced users who can help during implementation.
First – Find the Test Pilots
The proving ground will only be as good as the test pilots you recruit. Software test pilots are a special breed of user that knows they’ll be exploring the unknown and are excited to be a part of it. Test pilots must exhibit the following traits to be successful:
- Strong desire to learn new software
- Calm when confronted with problems
- Ability to communicate problems clearly to the CAD manager
- The desire to follow through until finished
As CAD manager I find that a few test pilots allow me to locate anything I need to fix quickly and efficiently and – most importantly – without having to support the full production staff. Most CAD managers have a good idea who their test pilots are anyway, so now is the time to get them excited about BricsCAD.
The Proving Ground Environment
Here are the minimum requirements for a proving ground setup:
Give them a real BricsCAD setup. Test pilots should receive their BricsCAD fully setup and customized for production work.
Maintain an ejector seat. Should a test pilot experience an unforeseen issue with their BricsCAD keep their old CAD tool available in case they need to go back to it for whatever reason.
Minimize project risk. Isolate the proving grounds so you only have a select number of projects using BricsCAD to mitigate your risk. The goal is to prove BricsCAD can work in a real project environment but to restrict its usage to a few well-trained new users on a small number of projects at first.
Do everything as you would in production. Set up the proving grounds by installing, customizing and using BricsCAD exactly as you will in production so you can debug deployments, network settings, and peripherals before rolling BricsCAD out to all users.
Collect data. As test pilots work through their first BricsCAD project have them report any issues, questions, modifications to standards, etc. If your test pilots feel they have a valid issue, then it is certain the general user community will as well.
Change your training materials and standards as required. This aspect of the proving ground is essential since anything you fix now will mean a smoother experience for all other users during full implementation. Note: We will cover this topic in greater detail in our next post.
Does running a proving ground require CAD manager involvement? Yes. Is that investment in time worth it? Yes! Use the proving ground to your advantage and you’ll optimize BricsCAD even more while experiencing far less hassle doing so.
As BricsCAD is run through the proving grounds always think about the knowledge you can build that will help you during mass implementation later. If you pay attention and take good notes you should learn the following:
- What concepts were hard to learn?
- How did you best explain those hard concepts?
- What problems happened most often?
- What hardware or configuration problems came up?
- What work methods and standards worked best?
When you consider these pieces of information you can draw conclusions on how you’ll train new users, how you’ll administer the software and what sorts of standards you’ll need to make BricsCAD run best in your environment. So, it turns out the proving grounds aren’t just a place to get software running, they are also a usability lab that assists you in optimizing the software for training future users.
Proving Ground Psychology
As the proving ground takes shape, and BricsCAD is being used by your test pilots, you will start to get attention from all your other CAD users. Questions like “What is this BricsCAD software?” and “How can I try it?” will be asked. You’ll find that the BricsCAD proving ground gets users curious about BricsCAD which is a great way to prepare them for training. So, answer the questions and get your users ready for their shot at BricsCAD.
I’ve also observed that when test pilots are viewed as hard working, sharp, talented users helping the company get ahead with new technology you establish a culture where being a test pilot is a goal. And wouldn’t you rather have all your BricsCAD users strive to be as good as your test pilots already are? How much easier would it be for you to train and implement BricsCAD if everybody had a test pilot mindset? Think about it.
I hope my “proving grounds” theory has made you think about how to use in-house test pilots to change the process of implementing BricsCAD. And, incidentally, I’ve found proving grounds work just as well for mechanical modeling, BIM and customization projects.
In the next post we’ll explore how to create training materials and standards in conjunction with the proving ground to arrive at the optimal training experience for new BricsCAD users.
Ready to try BricsCAD?
Easy to try, easy to buy, easy to own. That’s BricsCAD. Try all of our products, for free for 30 days at www.bricsys.com. Freedom of choice, plus perpetual (permanent) product licenses that work with all languages, in all places. You’ll love what we’ve built for you with the BricsCAD V19 product family.
More CAD Managers’ Corner Stories
- Network Installation Mechanics – Part 1
- Network Installation Mechanics – Part 2
- LISP Concepts for Easy Migration
- Minimum Training for Maximum Learning– Part 1
- Minimum Training for Maximum Learning – Part 2
- Three Steps to BricsCAD Adoption
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 1
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 2
- Preparing for Implementation – The Proving Ground
A well-known CAD management author, industry expert, mechanical engineer and Bricsys Certified Migration Consultant, Robert brings a wealth of experience to clients wishing to maximize their BricsCAD software investment. His company – Robert Green Consulting – has been helping US, Canadian and European clients with customization, optimization, training and CAD programming for 27 years. Based in Atlanta, Robert is also a semi-professional rock guitarist and vocalist.
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