Document Management for CAD

Oct 20, 2010 | Blog


Last week there was a posting on a LinkedIn forum for AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) members that read:  “There is constant discussion regarding CAD Standards in the industry. One topic related to this; Document Management is rarely thought about. What are your thoughts on the need for a DMS.”

This question received over 50+ responses and is still going.  I could not help  responding and blogging about this because while the question was about Standards and Document Management for CAD, many of the responses where about “what solution” they had to manage their CAD files successfully.  The concept I posed on this thread was “Document Management isn’t just about the CAD files and Project Management.  It’s so much more.  There are communications, email, change orders just to name a few.

The subject of standards is a common one.  I want it “my way”.  The reality is that standards are merely suggestions without enforcement.  Once you have support from the top down, you can enforce them.

In addition to standards, digital data currently not in a standard format can become a liability.  Insurance companies have even established electronic data as an asset so why not make it a usable asset?  Establishing standards with Engineering and Design such as what layer, color, font and format are intuitive…..to you but make sure this policy is acknowledged to avoid rework.   Establishing standards for indexing is a must.   These is where you transcend the of the old ways of finding things set up by someone no longer in the company and make it more use-able.  Make sure it’s documented.  It will be referenced later.

True Document Management

I was pleased to hear this group recognized the features of a true document management solution.  There was acknowledgement of the need for security and controlled access of data, protection from deletion, standards in format and revision (software versions) and project management tools.  Their challenges were the inclusion of email into the CAD based Document Management solutions.   No-one mentioned accounting.   Those records matter too.  There seems to be a disconnect when trying include email or other systems.

Some felt the use of the folders and dropping project files into the folders was an adequate systems to retrieve files.  It’s obvious they did not trust the technology or maybe it’s a control issue.   I suppose it isn’t until you had to deal with e-discovery that you realize the true impact and benefit of having a Document Management system for any department Engineering & Design.