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Innovative CAD rollout

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A global distribution program developed by a leading project delivery firm is setting new standards in the rollout of new software. Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) has released Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to more than 1300 CAD users globally. It is part of an ongoing improvement program providing draughters with the latest tools to share drawings across offices and regions throughout the world.

SKM's Group CAD Manager, Trevor Black, said the rollout impressed Autodesk, creators of AutoCAD, in terms of the logistics and complexity of the project.

"While we are not the largest CAD users in the world by any means, we are the largest CAD group headquartered out of Australia, and unusual because of the multi-disciplinary nature of our business," said Mr Black. "There are more AutoCAD users in the US, but they tend to be at a single site rather than globally distributed like we have at SKM.”

"It's easy to put AutoCAD on a single site, but a rollout to global sites managed from one point represents a greater challenge, and something that we understand no firm like ours in this region has ever attempted," he added.

Geoff Hussey, Building Solutions Division Sales Manager for Autodesk, said SKM's rollout represents a ground-breaking step for AutoCAD users.

Amongst the 4000 plus people working at SKM in offices across Australia, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America, there are about 1350 CAD users of which 1200 are network licensed. CAD users are located in almost every one of SKM's 40 offices around the globe.

A recent survey at SKM found CAD drawings represent up to 60% of deliverables to clients, in both printed and electronic form. Drawings can be delivered in hard copy A1 or A2 size formats, or in electronic format as pdf or dwf files.

Throughout SKM, CAD users can often number from one or two people in small regional offices to literally hundreds of users in capital city offices or project offices in remote locations.

Stage 1 of the rollout will involve delivering more than 1000 copies of AutoCAD 2005 to SKM users globally. This was managed in groups, with Australian users receiving the software first, followed by New Zealand, Asia, and the UK, followed by SKM's remaining offices.

With each AutoCAD deployment representing 500MB to 600MB of information, it was crucial that the release did not interrupt the SKM network when each user received the software. Following an extensive awareness program by e-mail to SKM users, the first indication of the upgrade came with the appearance of an icon on individual desktops.

"When users double clicked on the new icon, they were taken straight to an SKM Intranet page that fully explained the process, where they could go to for support and the new features of the software," said Mr Black. "Our main intent was to provide comprehensive information about the rollout process to make certain that CAD users and draughters were all comfortable about using the software.”

The rollout was an outstanding success, completed within 10 days, and with only 30 calls to the SKM Help Desk from the more than 1000 CAD users.

"Most inquiries related to simplistic issues such as migrating settings from the old version of AutoCAD," said Mr Black. "The beauty of the upgrade is that it now offers consistency across SKM that can be deployed quickly and efficiently, with one point of support."

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