Notes from the classroom: One perspective on switching CAD software

It has been a great year looking back upon 2011!  Many of us have been very busy and have accomplished many goals.  I was asked to continue my PTC U Certifications within the Windchill course offerings alongside keeping up with the new Creo Elements Pro 5.0 (ProEngineer Wildfire 5.0) courses.  I will continue to talk about Windchill during next week’s topic.  This week I would like to reflect on those customers that have accomplished their goal of learning a new CAD system.

Lately, I have had many customers that have taken my Introduction to Creo Elements Pro 5.0 course with extensive prior knowledge of a different CAD system.  These experts of the other CAD system usually always appear a little reluctant to learn something new.  I can totally understand!  These customers are being asked to take a week off from being productive at work as well as their productivity will be down while trying to produce work within a new CAD system.  In addition to this their old habits, comfort, etc. will be put the test and will most likely have to be either lost or recreated.  All of this equals stress!

As I teach these customers I like to take away that stress. The less stressful I can make the training environment the better it is for learning.  I too made a similar switch a dozen years ago when I learned Pro/ENGINEER being a prior AutoCAD user.  This switch from a 2D CAD system to a 3D CAD system can be the most difficult scenario I run into.  I like to let the customer know this fact to ease any of their frustrations they are having during class, as well as reassure them that they are doing really well in the learning process.  I also like to let the customer know of similar or different terminologies and concepts.  However, they soon learn that this 3D element opens a whole new world of capabilities and precision.

Another common customer I run into during these Introduction classes are ones switching from a smaller company to a larger company.  Sometimes smaller or startup companies go with a less powerful CAD choice like Inventor, Solid Edge, or Solid Works.  When customers leave those positions in search of new opportunities they tend to find themselves having to now learn a version of Pro.  This switch is not as difficult if the learner is actually willing to except the change.  Meaning, I sometimes find an individual in my class that will not be 100% to the change even though they openly admit that Pro is a much more powerful CAD system and they even understand that many of the other parametric 3D CAD systems are based off if it.  This customer will still wish they can continue to use their old CAD system.

Both situations go back to the customer’s habits and comfort.  To ease the transition I tell them that the only cure I know of is to make switch with an open mind and build more models.  The more models they build, the more time on the system, and the more they will understand it.  I can even see this during the one week I spend with them.  Thursday and Friday are always easier for all learners during the Intro class than Monday was.  I must run and prepare for some Windchill training next week…Take care!