For a long time now I’ve been talking about the benefits of Civil 3D and how, when implemented properly, can result in tangible benefits. But what happens when Civil 3D is NOT implemented properly? Simply put: nothing good. A failed Civil 3D upgrade can have a far greater impact than just the lost time and wasted effort that went into the unsuccessful project. Typically, it creates an atmosphere of general resistance to any future attempts in improve a process; it may result in disciplinary action against or firing of the project lead; and perhaps most important, it may put your organization at a disadvantage when directly competing with other organizations and in the ability to attract and retain talented staff members. So, what can we do to give our Civil 3D implementation projects the best chances for success? Unfortunately there is no silver-bullet answer, but there are several obstacles that impede success which you can spot before you ever get started. Identifying these hurdles and developing a plan to surmount them will help you and your organization avoid failure and reap the benefits that Civil 3D has to offer. More after the jump.
- Obstacle 1: Lack of Owner/Management SupportThis is by far the most significant obstacle. It is very common that a Civil 3D implementation project has its roots in the end users who are in the trenches day in and day out, who see or hear about how the software can benefit the organization and who ultimately bring it to the attention of those who have the authority to make the project happen. It may also happen that there are several owners or managers and one or a few decide upon a Civil 3D integration project and become the champions. However, regardless of its origins, if the people who write the checks are not behind the Civil 3D implementation, it has a very unlikely chance of succeeding. They must be willing to commit time, money and other resources to make the implementation work. If they aren’t, the project should be postponed until management provides its full support.
- Obstacle 2: Lack of end-user support
In some ways, this is the flip-side of obstacle 1. Often, owners have identified Civil 3D as a product they believe will improve the organization’s efficiency and put their full support behind it. However, the end-users must also be behind the project. Since the end-users are the “doers” that literally use Civil 3D, they must be willing to put in the effort to make it work. Possible reasons for resistance include fear of learning a new product; being pushed out of one’s comfort zone; dislike of the brand of product chosen (perhaps they prefer a competitive product); past Civil 3D integration projects that failed. Whatever the reason, a team of enthusiastic end-users must be part of the implementation project or it has little chance of success.
- Obstacle 3: Under-funding the implementation effort (trying to do it on the cheap)
It is a rare advanced application that can be taken out of the box and immediately introduced into your workflow with little or no effort. Civil 3D is no exception. Therefore, successful implementation depends on proper training and consulting services. Furthermore, consulting services are rarely a one-size-fits-all process: while organizations may have general commonalities, each has a specific way of doing things that differentiate them from others. Additionally, the fees paid to a consultant are minimal compared to the opportunity costs associated staff not doing billable work while they are learning Civil 3D. Therefore, it is very important to factor in these lost billable hours when funding your Civil 3D project. Attempting to integrate advanced Civil 3D without planning for and properly funding the consulting, training, and lost productivity during integration is a recipe for failure.
- Obstacle 4: Underestimating effort involved
This obstacle ties in tightly with the first three. The entire organization must understand the effort often required to fully integrate Civil 3D so that the desired goals are achieved. A major cause of underestimating effort is lack of communication among the people and departments involved. Especially at the onset of a Civil 3D implementation project, communication is vital. Input from all departments (field, office, engineering, surveying, etc.) and from personnel at all levels must be elicited and incorporated into the implementation plan. Lack of planning and underestimating the effort pretty much guarantees failure.
- Obstacle 5: Selecting the wrong implementation partner
Some organizations have the in-house staff required to implement Civil 3D with little outside help. However, most do not have the luxury of these dedicated resources and even those that do must still partner with the right vendor when purchasing Civil 3D. The key word here is “partnering”. Many resellers can offer the actual product and will aggressively compete for your business. A successful implementation depends not only on choosing the correct product, but also choosing a consultant who will partner with you to ensure your success. An effective consultant partner will understand Civil 3D itself and, more importantly, your business and tasks you must accomplish in your daily routine. Just remember to do your homework and get several proposals so you have the best chance of selecting the best partner.
Understanding the hurdles and obstacles you may encounter when implementing Civil 3D is the first step in avoiding them. Just like any construction or engineering project, good planning and execution are both required when implementing Civil 3D. Plan for these obstacles and give your project the best chance at success.