I realize this is a highly subjective topic but I would like to get some feedback from those who have experience with these 2 paths so I can present it to management.
Considering we are still in a slow period in our area, management is not wanting to spend resources to train me. Some time ago they allowed me to spend maybe several weeks going through tutorials and the Mastering book. I have also spent a considerable amount of my own time exploring it at home. While I have gained a pretty good understanding of how most of it works, I have only used the software in a very limited capacity in our current production workflow. Bear in mind that we have been using LDT 2004 up until now so I have only limited exposure to all the enhancements to Autocad and Map since then as well.
So now when I am faced with a new task where C3D should be a great time saver I am reluctant to use it because I am afraid I'll encounter problems with the software and get bogged down in looking for workarounds. I've already encountered issues with point clouds, HEC RAS export/import, profile bands, file format conversion, pipes and more. It is not enough to know how the tools work. We also need to know what works and what doesn't.
This is where having experienced support is essential but I don't want to recommend getting training if all it will do is teach me what I already know. What we really need is support for live projects as we go. Yet I don't see us spending a lot of money for support on a case by case basis considering the budget constraints we have.
We have time but no money, yet the amount of time it is taking to learn is agonizingly slow. So what is the best solution?
I did trial by fire. It worked out OK There were some hair raising situations and I would have withered away on the vine if not for this forum.
I would say out of respect, that a formal training wouldn't have been a bad thing. Heck I'd take it now to break the bad habits I developed on my own. Hopefully Brian will chime in - I would think that any reseller worth their salt can taylor training classes to all levels of pre existing knowledge.
Talk to your re-seller.
mathewk wrote:If management is not on board with these inevitabilities, you have no hope of pleasing them. If they are committed to implementing C3D they need to know and accept this. If they aren't then you'll be using LDT 2004 forever.
That is certainly a problem Matt. There is a considerable disdain for Autodesk based on past experience. It was my hope that I could overcome the prejudice by demonstrating on some live projects the efficiency to be gained from C3D and the newer capabilities in Autocad. Sadly my efforts have backfired because it has typically taken longer to get through a project due to inexperience and the aforementioned problems with the software. It's really a catch 22, they won't spend money if it doesn't make us more efficient, yet it costs money to become more efficient.
Perhaps you are right that this problem is hopeless in this environment. What I really need is a new home.
Working for a company that is coming to the end of our transition (as of this month no new projects will be created in LDD) I can relate to what you are going thru. My advice for training and implementation breaks down like this:
1) Get support from above (management not a diety), I didnt realize just how critical it was, we ended up having some groups who adopted and transitioned quickly, we had others who did not because managers either made it easy to avoid learning the new tool or flat out encouraged people to not upgrade.
2) Develop a workflow guidline teach this. If you dont do this EVERYONE will find a different approach to working on projects so you will have a unique approach to every job, not a recipe for ling term success.
3) Make sure your template is ready with the styles you need for the majority of your work. It will never be completed, but making sure it is well on it's way will help you be successful.
4) Develop a training plan the fits your design approaches. No reseller will know what you do for work and how your team approaches it day 1. So document what you do when you do talk to a reseller about support. We are currently working thru our training for the masses here. That means one training program for our surveyors, one for our land development designers, and a third for our transportation engineering group since all 3 groups have very different workflows we needed to address. Spending a day learning about points when it is a tool you rarley use in your workflow is not only a waste of time but also can turn people off to the upgrade. We worked with our reseller to develop training agendas specific to our workflows. They use our template, with our data when our staff is being trainined. Also we provide them with our file breakouts and file names to discuss during the training. It helps pu tthe staff in their comfort zone when learning something new.
5) Follow training up with support as projects get going. I would say I spend the majority of my day now helping people who are doing their first or second project in C3D. After that I only hear from them as they expand their skill sets and mess with new tools.
I realize this is a lot of info and probably none of it is shocking. We have found here at least that the key points for staff were, management support, workflow, training based on workflow, follow up project mentoring. The biggest thing was getting people beyond the point of saying "I have to model everything now that I have a modeling tool". Until they got past there it was too daunting of a task for anyone to want to undertake. We looked at our workflows, made changes where it made sense with the future vision being modelling everything but our short term goal being getting everyone on the new tool. So for example the small gas station we do we don't treat the same as our campus expansion. The gas teams have a workflow that has made them very successful at completeing that work and making money on the project. We showed them a couple features in Civil 3D that will help, then said let's maintain much of your workflow. The large more iterative jobs we spend more time showing the teams the power of the dynamic model.
Sorry about the novel. but this is what has worked for us. Another thing we did was look at when we could train when billable time would not be impacted (nights & lunches). I have been amazed at how willing people have been to "donate" their time to learn about the tools they use everyday. Makes you feel good about the commitment the people have to improve themselves.
Thank you for sharing your experience and suggestions. I noted some of the challenges I have faced with management, particularly in regards to having to build models for everything.
Prior to my coming on board here they did not build models at all. As we do primarily site design the typical workflow was to take an architect's site and building layout, hand draw contours and type manually calc'ed spot elevations on it. It is a simple and efficient way to get an initial plan. However as we all know, that approach breaks down when a design needs to be changed. Everything has to be manually recalculated and re-drawn. Also, without models most of the design tools that depend on them (i.e.. cross sections, volumes, slope analysis, stakeout, etc) are useless. As I was used to building models (in LDT) and depended on the models for those reasons, I used them on the projects I worked on. Partly because of the nature of Land Desktop, it took me longer to get an initial design ready and it also took longer to edit and update the models. Consequently management has not been all that impressed with this workflow. They can see and understand the benefits from building models but it hasn't proven to be any more profitable.
Over the years I have been evaluating Civil 3D and Bentley's Power Civil to see if I can find a more efficient way to build these models to benefit from the advantages they bring. Management has been willing to invest in the cost of the software for me but they don't feel it is worthwhile to invest any more in this venture due to the economy. If I can make these tools improve my/our efficiency then they'd be happy but unless they see a significant advantage, they are not going to spend the large sums required to implement it company wide at this time.
So my dilemma is I need to become efficient on my own. It is my hope that by doing so they will see how we can become more efficient and profitable by implementing new technology and thus will be more open to considering the investment required. So far progress has been too slow and the time I have invested has not paid off.
Considering the amount of personal time I have invested in learning all this software (Microstation, Power Civil, Civil 3D and aIl the enhancements to Autocad and Map since 2004), I am exhausted and wishing for some kind of fast track to productivity.
I don't think there's a really easy answer to this question, when you have short-sighted "moneybags".
All I can say is that, about two months ago, we hired on a new C3D Survey Tech at Edward-James Surveying. I've been able to work with her on a continual basis, yet continuing to do my own work (and only working part-time at EJ Surveying, spending half my time working on Quux Software stuff). And she's really an Engineer, not a Surveyor, so I've had to teach a bunch of "Survey" concepts. Yet working with her just a few hours a day over two months, she's far more productive than some of the people in our other office (that I haven't been able to train), even though those others have been using C3D for years.
I may be a bit of an extreme, in that most people don't have someone like me "on-staff", but I've seen how fast I can get a C3D CAD tech up to speed, vs. letting them figure most of it out on their own. In one case, a couple of months makes a highly-skilled C3D tech. In the other, four years makes an average C3D tech who still struggles with many things.
I think my/our strategy is similar to yours in that once I get proficient I would be the in house "go to" person for the rest of staff. The problem is I need a "go to" person myself. Perhaps they should fire me and hire one.
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