Views of maturity

After 12 to 18 months, depending on the size and complexity of the system, a CAD/CAM/CAE implementation will tend to mature. The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager and the support team will have become experienced in the operation of the system and in dealing with the management problems which beset CAD/CAM/CAE in general. Users of the system will have mastered its commands and be capable of producing better results with CAD/CAM/CAE than with manual methods. There will be a good working relationship with the vendor, and top management should at last be aware of what the CAD/CAM/CAE system can realistically be expected to do.

The short-term goals for the system will be clear, coordinated, and relate to what can actually be achieved. There are few surprises, and life, though still busy, is comfortable. It seems as if the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager's role is no longer entrepreneurial, and in the future will be limited to managing the day-to-day operations of the system.

Of course, top management's view of maturity will be different from that of the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager. For the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager, after selection of the CAD/CAM/CAE system, the first phase of the implementation is that in which the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager, the support team, and the users learn how to use the system and adapt to it. The actual problems that occur are almost always unexpected, and the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager's time is divided between fire fighting and trying hard to gain more knowledge of this new technique.

The implementation appears to be mature when the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager and the support team gain that knowledge and experience. It is likely that the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will be happy with performance at this stage. The fire fighting has died down, and for the first time it is possible to plan. Expectations have become more realistic, and the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager is able to meet them.

The implementation team will have tackled the original implementation goals, either explicit or implicit. Some will have been achieved, some will have been found to be too ambitious; expectations will have been lowered, and some goals will have been shelved because of a lack of resources or time. Little by little, and unnoticed by all, the implementation goals will thus have been modified, stabilized, and rationalized, and the implementation will appear to be mature.

However, the current set of ideas and objectives will have resulted from a pragmatic rationalization process unrelated to top management's requirements. Because the objectives set at the start of the project have apparently proved to be unachievable, the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will believe that the current set is what was really required. The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will believe that it is not possible to do better. Before, sights were set higher, but things didn't work out. Things now appear to be well directed; however, the fact is that the last time the plans now being followed were reviewed coldly and dispassionately was more than 12 months ago.

From the strategic level, there is another definition of maturity. It is based on the plans and objectives by which CAD/CAM/CAE is driven. From the point of view of top management, maturity means that the CAD/CAM/CAE installation has passed through the planned implementation phase and met its objectives. In practice, there may be a considerable difference between the two points of view.

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Page last modified on February 11, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark