Monday, September 01, 2008

Selling Product versus Productivity

I read a post on Evan Yares' blog where he comments on an article written by Matt Lombard. Seems to me that though discussing CAD the discussion really is the same when you swap CAD for BIM (as a "product" at least). It is focused on Solidworks but you could easily put Autodesk in its place.

Evan quoted this portion of the original article on the blog Matt Writes and I like his selection so I'll include it here too.

"What’s the difference between CAD and Productivity? CAD is just a tool. In the same way that a hammer sitting on a bench isn’t putting a new roof on your house, CAD itself is just a static tool. Productivity is the combination of a tool and the ability to use it. It’s like a two part epoxy - either part on its own is just a sticky mess that you can’t do anything with, but put them together, and you’ve got something of value. If I buy a CAD product and have no idea how to use it, the software itself has no value to me. Ironically, the value is created by the customer, not the vendor, when the customer learns how to use the tool. So often, the customer has to pay extra for training on the tool. It is only when the abilities conferred by the training are combined with the software that you have something of value - productivity." [Matt Lombard - 2007]

If you aren't prepared to just read the rest yourself the article is asking Solidworks to focus their energy on providing better resources to help make the users of their product(s) more productive, the real value.

Evan added his own comment: "Advanced capabilities do far less to help make typical CAD users productive than do improvements in baseline usability."

I can hear someone using that as an excuse to stick with AutoCAD instead of moving to Revit. I can hear that twisted into an excuse to barely use AutoCAD Architecture features. I can hear someone say that I posted this because I provide training services and want to preach. No not at all, I think the point is to endeavor to recognize inefficiency (and do something about it, added in response of Evan's comment) wherever you might find it, it is all around us, you just need to look.


Anonymous said...

Recognizing inefficiency is not so hard. Deciding what to do about it is more difficult.

There's an old joke about a Harvard MBA who decided to become a lumberjack. Halfway through his first day on the job, he came to the foreman, complaining about his chainsaw.

As he started to talk about all its limitations (and hos plans for addressing them), the foreman stopped him, and said "why don't you just show me?"

So they went out to a tree, and the foreman stood back, and watched the lumberjack work. After about a half hour, having made no headway, the lumberjack gave up, walked back to where the foreman was, and started to tell him more of his ideas.

The foreman listened for a while, and finally said "those are all good ideas. But, before spending a lot of time on them, I'd like to show you something. There is a handle here, on the side of the saw. It's called a "pull starter."

Steve said...


My own embarrassing story. Many years ago I worked for a convention services company. My first week or so on the job as a "foreman" I was tasked with laying "red carpet" from the entrance of the Georgia World Congress center (in one of two buildings there are three) to a set of escalators.

My crew and I loaded our carpet on a giant cart and used the freight elevator to get up to the level where the escalators started down to the show floor.

I decided to start here. We got about half way done when we took a short break. It was here that the guys decided to suggest that it would have been easier if we started at the entrance instead.

They were correct because we were working "up hill" as there was a steady slope from the escalators to the entrance area.

To be sure, it was a slight grade in order to be accessible for wheelchairs but up hill is up hill after all. So the crew was silly for listening to me, the "new guy" telling them what to do and I was "silly" for not just letting these guys go about what was routine for them since they had "been there done that" many times.

Easy to detect...easy to overlook too... We installed half the carpet the "hard way" and the second half the "easier way", fortunately we were able to meet in the middle.