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The CAD Managers Bag of Tricks

Am I dating myself with "old school" cartoons like Felix the Cat?  Felix had a bag of tricks and many times the CAD Manager is expected to have a similar bag of tricks.

Anyway, you need gather a bag of tricks that you can tap into before you need it.  These may include the following items that you need to have in your bag in case of emergencies:

1.  Backup files - with easy access.  You need to have a scheme for getting to your backup files quickly.  if you have to call the IT department and wait for them to get you on their long list of support issues, this may not be the best answer.  You should have access to all the files and systems for getting files quickly.  Project Managers as well as users will appreciate your fast recovery time.

2.  A technical support contract - with someone who really knows the software and can get you answers.  Face it, we cannot know everything.  You need a partner that can be your backup in case you are stumped.  This could be provided by your reseller, or Autodesk, or maybe your training contacts.  The few hundred dollars per year will be happily spent if you can have some quick answers to tough questions.

3.  A good memory - or a good organization system.  So you can track down the answer from the last time something similar to this has happened.  The answer you are looking for may be in your own tech notes (you are taking notes when you figure something out - right?).  It may be in the head of one of your users (so I remember who had the last problem and ask them what the answer was).  Or it may be in the book (I make notes in my books and have sticky flags all over them).

4.  Small hardware supplies.  Like a few extra mice, or power cords, power strips, monitors, mouse pads, USB cable, whatever.  These are items that fail from time to time and you should know where to instantly go to get a replacement.  If you have to order these things, your user will be unproductive while they wait.  If you have to "run to the store" it is not good.  Keep a small stock of stuff like this on hand.

5.  Tech Tool Kit - wrenches, screwdrivers, connectors, plugs, etc.  Make sure you have the tools to crack open, reconnect, tighten and adjust things.

6.  Copies of all critical support files.  Don't totally depend on your network security and backups for those critical files.  I keep a complete copy of my CAD Support files from the server on my local hard drive.  It has rescued me a few times when someone, somehow deleted critical files.

7.  A memory stick/flash drive/USB device with critical files on it.  Keep it in your pocket.  Use it to transfer files from one machine to another.  Keep a copy of your web site favorites (or bookmarks for Firefox) folder on it so you can get to your sites from another machine.

So keep these and other items in you bag of tricks so that others can continue to work and get the projects out the door.

Mark W. Kiker