What Is the Role of a CAD Manager?



As the manager in charge of computer-aided design (CAD), your role is to ensure the maximum efficiency of the CAD system — even though you may well be plagued daily by nit-picky problems, such as dry ink jet cartridges.

The successful CAD manager is able to ease changes to CAD by carefully planning the process and keeping everyone informed. While the primary problem you will face is finding money for upgrades to the system, above all remember that your goal is to make it more efficient to get work done. When something makes the work more efficient, then implement it.

The following article is an abstract of the eBook ‘Best CAD Practices’ by Ralph Grabowski. Graebert is happy to share with you some of the experience accumulated by Ralph as a CAD expert and as compiled in his eBook for which the reference can be found at the bottom of the page. Feel free to share feedback in the comment section below.


The easiest definition of a CAD manager is “anyone who knows more about CAD than you do.” Seriously, though, the CAD manager combines an excellent CAD user with a network manager. Some of the things with which you should be familiar are the following.


You must be familiar with all aspects of the CAD system your firm uses:

  •  Drawing and editing commands, and techniques
  • Plotting and archiving drawing files
  • Customizing and programming
  •  Translation to and from other CAD systems, and data formats
  • Understanding software related to CAD, such as databases and VBA (Visual Basic
    for Applications) programming

In addition, it’s helpful to have some familiarity with other CAD systems. Some firms use more than one CAD package in-house. Definitely, you will have at least one client using a different system. In any case, getting to know a second CAD system is like learning a second language: it broadens your horizons.


CAD is more than drawing, editing, and plotting drawings. There is an entire range of processes that accompany the production of drawings. Tasks most closely identified with the profession of CAD management include the following:

  • Implementing a document management system that controls access to drawing files
  • Preparing a revision management system so that everyone knows which version of the drawing is the most recent
  • Creating CAD standards and standardized templates with symbols, title blocks, borders, and so on, and then making them available to all drafting stations from a central location
  • Transmitting drawings to clients electronically
  • Setting up an on-line project management system, perhaps with group discussion capability
  • Justify to upper management the implementation and cost of new technology
  • Hiring (and, sometimes, firing) staff

This book deals with many of these items.


Because CAD software runs on computers, a third set of skills are required, which were unknown in the days of manual drafting. Computer-related are usually assigned to the IT (information technology)department, the network manager, or in a small firm, to the CAD manager:

  • Installing software, and adding hardware components
  • Connecting and configuring the network
  • Tweaking the operating system, and downloading the latest drivers and software patches
  • Understanding how peripherals work
  • Setting up backup, anti-virus, and firewall systems
  • Knowing how to use the tools of the Internet, including maintaining bookmarks of useful sites, employing search engines, setting up email and file sharing systems, keeping up to date with the latest browser-server systems, and practicing safe access


The CAD industry makes small changes every few months, and so it is necessary for the CAD manager to keep up-to-date:

  • Employing training, whether self-taught or in a classroom via books and online courses
  • Reading industry magazines, including business magazines, discipline-specific publications, general computer magazines, and publications specific to CAD
  • Monitoring informational Web sites, e-newsletters, and CAD vendor news
  • Updating office CAD standards as new ones emerge
  • Keeping track of the latest trends in the CAD world, and having an understanding if they are genuinely useful or just hype being used to sell a new product

Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy to stay up-to-date with the latest technology. For example, I spend roughly an hour a day reading news and opinion at Web sites. In addition, I subscribe to many e-newsletters and some magazines, which are delivered by e-mail every day, weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

About the author

Ralph Grabowski is a CAD expert with 30+ years experience. He is the author of several best-selling books related to most leading CAD programs. Ralph writes also in a variety of CAD news portals and magazines. More than anything, he is renowned as the founder and editor of the upFront.eZine newsletter and the blog WorldCAD Access.

NB: The views and opinions expressed by the author in this article or in the eBook do not necessarily reflect those of Graebert as a company or publisher of this blog.

Purchase the book

To buy the complete book click on the image below.

Best CAD Practices eBook by Ralph Grabowski