Management commitment

Top management must be committed to the introduction and use of CAD/CAM/CAE, and must make this commitment highly visible. It is not easy to successfully implement CAD/CAM/CAE in a company, and in the absence of a clear lead from the top, there will be many middle managers and potential users who will be only too happy to prevent CAD/CAM/CAE succeeding. Important demonstrations of commitment by top management include giving full support to the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager, and requiring middle management to use CAD/CAM/CAE in their departments.

Top management must not only give a lead to the rest of the company but also ensure that the necessary decisions and actions are taken. This is needed at the time of system selection, since many companies refine their investigations unnecessarily rather than actually get on with the implementation. It is equally necessary after system installation, at which time many companies believe that just because the system is installed, it is working optimally and needs no further attention. This is not the case, and top management must ensure on an ongoing basis that productivity gains are being achieved. In the absence of such gains, top management must take corrective action.

For CAD/CAM/CAE to succeed, computer-based product information must be able to transit between different stages of the design engineering and manufacturing engineering process. In many cases though, CAD/CAM/CAE has been implemented in just one, or in a limited number of these stages (e.g., in design engineering but not in manufacturing engineering), or in the 'proposals' drawing office but not in the 'production' drawing office. Partial implementation of this sort can only be successful on a very limited scale. To avoid getting into situations of this kind, top management, which, alone, has overall responsibility for different stages of the process, must lead the company to a more global approach to CAD/CAM/CAE.

Without a well-defined CAD/CAM/CAE plan, there is little chance of a company meeting its CAD/CAM/CAE objectives. The responsibility for such a plan lies with top management.

Once the decision has been taken to implement CAD/CAM/CAE, it is important to ensure that CAD/CAM/CAE services are not charged to users at a prohibitive rate. Overcharging may result in a financial 'profit' but can discourage use of the system, and therefore make a nonsense of the initial objective to increase overall productivity.

A company should not expect that implementation of CAD/CAM/CAE will lead to a reduction in the number of highly qualified staff, and their replacement by less qualified personnel. If anything, the opposite is true, with the system providing the most important productivity benefits when used by highly qualified staff.

During the system selection phase, when an economic benchmark is carried out for each system, top management must make it clear to all concerned that indirect productivity gains should be included in the calculations.

The successful implementation of CAD/CAM/CAE requires changes in the organizational structure of the company, and the way in which certain tasks are carried out. New types of staff must be employed. The relationship between design engineering and manufacturing engineering will change. However, most people in the company are quite happy with the status quo, and although they enjoy complaining and criticizing, do not really want changes to be made. After all, changes can lead to unpleasantness such as more work, and unwanted responsibility.

Only top management has the motivation and the power to effect changes. Whereas many of the factors concerned with successful CAD/CAM/CAE involve management lead and follow-up with others carrying out the actions, top management must be fully involved in managing change.

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