Preparing for the worst

The first year of implementing and using CAD/CAM/CAE is fraught with danger. The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will soon find there is risk associated with every CAD/CAM/CAE opportunity, and that people who should be firm supporters of CAD/CAM/CAE can just as easily be highly destructive. The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will look back over the system selection process and reminisce about the ease of that essentially theoretical task. The real problems arise when theory has to be put into practice, people have to carry out new tasks, and organizational change (rather than talk of organizational change) is necessary.

The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager must be alert to the possibility of ill winds blowing from many quarters. The problems may be caused by top management withdrawing support from the plans they agreed to. Sometimes they will be due to middle managers unable to handle the changes that accompany the introduction of CAD/CAM/CAE. In other cases it will be the users who, faced with the difficulties of working with a new system and new techniques, do not succeed. Sometimes the problems are directly due to malfunction of the system, sometimes to the inability of the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager to provide suitable system support and development.

Often, problems arise because people believe that selecting a system represents 95 percent of the activities associated with using CAD/CAM/CAE. Once the system is selected they sit back, believing that successful use of CAD/CAM/CAE will follow automatically. Of course, it does not. The selection of the system only accounts for a few percent of the total activities. Another problem may arise from a lack of discipline. In the absence of suitable procedures, people will use the system as well as they can, but will invariably make mistakes. Data will be destroyed and projects will overrun their budgets. CAD/CAM/CAE may then lead to a reduction in productivity, rather than the hoped-for improvement.

Forewarned is forearmed, and the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager who is aware of the problems that may occur can take action to prevent them, and make sure that the CAD/CAM/CAE objectives are met.

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