Five Secrets for a Smooth Transition for your Next Engineering Software Implementation

September 6, 2011
Is your organization considering the transition to a new engineering software platform or is your team ready for an upgrade? If so, read on to ensure a smooth transition. The following five key findings are extracted from experiences gathered over hundreds of design and engineering information modelling system implementations. Follow these five recommendations to save time and effort and avoid the pitfalls while keeping your live projects right on schedule. Step by step, let’s look at the best practices to planning a successful transition. ONE: Build a solid foundation and obtain senior level buy-in. Believe it or not, we have seen mistakes made during the investigation stage that have led to significant problems down the road.  One common mistake is that organizations haven’t attained the full support of their senior government officials when moving forward to make changes to the process.  It is absolutely necessary for all parties to understand the significant impacts that migrating to a model-based design platform will have on processes, workflows and standards. Any lack of understanding can jeopardize the investment required for a proper implementation. TWO: Develop software standards to match your objectives. We recently led an AutoCAD® Civil 3D® implementation in which a government organization had initially determined to maintain their legacy AutoCAD layer standards.  For more than a decade, they had been using essentially the same layering standards from one version of AutoCAD to the next because it was “working” for them. At the onset, they didn’t see the benefits of adopting the NCS-based (National CAD Standards) layer standards. However, among their objectives was the need to easily share files and to reduce layer complexity. In the end, transitioning to current industry standards allowed them to easily share files and significantly reduce the large number of layers to a much more manageable set common to the greater CAD community. THREE: Configure the new environment for effective collaboration. Consider collaboration when configuring the new design platform. Creating sharable content which is accessible to all offices and engineers working remotely from the outset, increases efficiency and productivity.  Sharing regional-specific assemblies, pipe and structure libraries, layer standards, annotation styles, description key sets and more, promotes consistent styles and standards. Consistency helps foster easier collaboration because everyone involved will be able to understand a drawing and contribute to it using a commonly understood language.  In every case, this improves productivity, cuts down on costs, and reduces the chance for errors in data translation. FOUR: Appoint one project manager. A common mistake among organizations is not properly planning and coordinating the implementation.  This leads to delays, miscommunication and budget overages. It is essential to designate a project manager tasked with overseeing a project from inception to completion. This leader should maintain quality control, ensure coordination and handle communications between all parties involved. FIVE:  Start with a pilot project. A small project can help the team to catch any big problems early. Sometimes the well-planned ideas simply do not function as intended once put into practice.  The pilot phase is a critical step in the successful adoption because it provides an accurate, real-world application of the changes to workflow, standards, as well as the software itself.  In a recent case, an organization discovered in the pilot phase that the entire survey data-collection process was creating a bottleneck in the flow of data.  As a result, another methodology was devised. Making this discovery before the new platform was brought into full production saved many hours on re-work and manual data manipulation, not to mention user time and effort learning a system that would subsequently change. Mapping out an implementation with these five recommendations in mind is good practice and it will help ensure your government organization identifies and troubleshoots any issues before they cause significant problems.  Following these five DO’s will keep conversion to new engineering software on schedule and most importantly, on budget. For more information, watch the YouTube video, How to Implement Design Software, where Kevin recaps his technology implementation methodology. By Kevin Breslin, Director of Professional Services, Infrastructure Solutions, IMAGINiT Technologies. About Kevin Breslin Kevin is a recognized industry speaker and has led numerous civil engineering implementations across North America. You can reach him at kbreslin@rand.com.  For more information on IMAGINiT technologies, please visit http://imaginit.com/.