The Elements of Civil 3D Productivity

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Every couple of years Autodesk commissions a competitive software productivity analysis study about current Autodesk Civil 3D functionality. The moist recent study published in June 2021 compares the use of raw AutoCAD 2020 to Autodesk Civil 3D 2020 in 10 mission critical survey and civil design common workflows.

Autodesk is hosting a free public webinar on the AutoCAD versus Civil 3D productivity study results on July 27, 2021, featuring the study’s author Russ Nicloy. You can Sign up here for the CAD to Intelligent Design webinar.

AutoCAD Versus Civil 3D Productivity

Let us summarize the published study results.
Download a copy of The Benefits of Using Autodesk Civil 3D PDF here.
Time to complete all the top 10 common workflows:

  • AutoCAD - 46 hours
  • Civil 3D - 2 hours and 20 minutes

Doesn’t this productivity study result seem to be a bit like the play-by-play call of the Harlem Globetrotters game against the local charity chump team?

The Globetrotter Buckets of Confetti

Ok. Maybe there is someone in some firm or organization somewhere who believes AutoCAD is still the way to go to get survey and civil engineering project work out the door in 2022.

That appears to be a strawman argument. Maybe those folks have no choice?

Maybe some folks believe it is all about the differences in production man-hour cost?

The Man-Hour Productivity Cost

One might assume that in the current US marketplace the cost to train, maintain, and retain staff with intermediate raw AutoCAD skills is that much lower the cost to train, maintain, and retain staff with intermediate Autodesk Civil 3D skills? Dooh. Sorry. Don’t think so.

The actual study is the result of a single expert user performing both sets of tasks defined by classic and current Civil 3D task-based workflows.

The study clearly reveals that staff with intermediate levels of Civil 3D skill can easily perform the production work of more than 4-5 people with intermediate to advanced level AutoCAD skills.

Everyone Loves Good News…

This sounds great for the software vendor which Autodesk knew from the get-go.

If we have the staff with intermediate levels of Civil 3D skill, this is also good news.

However, if we have a staff with intermediate to advanced level AutoCAD skills, we certainly have a serious competitive problem.

Seems to me that it is also far too easy to confuse the two different skill sets if that determination is based solely on the specific software licenses that we pay for. Just sayin’.

Business Management 101

The vital business management task to find and, most importantly, retain skilled and productive staff in any marketplace matters a whole lot more to profitability and productivity than specific software or software release features and benefits.

We must continue to ask, “Do we retain the Right Stuff?”

The obvious reference to the early NASA astronaut program and the movie The Right Stuff is intentional. Notably, the crew requirements for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions differed significantly.

A great AutoCAD pilot does not necessarily become a great Civil 3D pilot. For example: some of the nuanced project data management tasks that are mission critical in Civil 3D projects rarely come into play in AutoCAD based production drawing environments.

Civil 3D is a Team Sport

We must also fully understand the ramifications of the Pareto Principal (The 80 20 Rule) – 20% of staff performs 80% of the production work. The 80% are far from useless when they understand their efforts support the substantive efforts of the 20%.

Of course, the on-going people problem is that lots of folks believe they are the 20% not the 80%.

Bureaucracies and collaborative committees thrive when the 80% can redefine the 20% to be them.

The State of Roles

As a producer of content for Civil 3D, I am certainly in the 20% as far as Framework for Civil 3D product production and development is concerned. However, as an Expert Consulting Services Provider, I am certainly among the 80% for our customers.

Best that I never forget the mission critical differences in those roles.

Speak of Standards

Funny. If you peruse the productivity study, you might not initially notice there is a glaring error of omission.

All of the demonstrable Civil 3D performance benefits assume that the requisite Civil 3D Feature Styles and Civil 3D Label Styles needed to deliver the conceptual and publication production results already exist.

All Things Being Equal

Can and do we assume that the development of the many required AutoCAD standards for things like Layers, Blocks, Teststyles, Dimstyles, etc are a wash between the raw AutoCAD production environment and a successful Civil 3D production environment?

Now can I have a show of hands from all of you out there in Civil 3D Land who believed that myth and then discovered the painful difference in Civil 3D.

The Liberty to Work in Civil 3D
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