An Interesting Thing Happened on the Way to a Whitepaper

I was recently writing up some information on Civil 3D implementations. In doing so, I had gathered data from a few organizations that had successfully made the migration to Civil 3D and I created a graph from that data. The results are interesting.

Here is the graph. It shows the time (in business days, in blue) it took the  organization to go from initial Civil 3D setup and configuration through to completion of their first project. Along side this data, it also shows the number of days (again, business days, in red) of outside consulting help the organization used. Large, Mid-size, and Small refers to the size of the organization. The table below the graph contains the data points.


Although there are too few data points in this graph to draw indisputable conclusions, it does appear that the more outside help the firm receives, the quicker they get and running with Civil 3D. I’d be interested in your comments on this.


  1. johnbeatle says:

    The company I work for only hired me as CAD manager 6 months ago.
    Our company had been messing around with Civil 3D since 2005, but never fully deployed it. I asked our reseller for a list of all the hours we had bought from them and when they were used.
    September 2005 – December 2006 = 88 hours
    January 2007 – Present = 62 hours
    Some of the hours I was here for, but for most I was absent. Our firm has never fully deployed Civil 3D, mainly because our Land Planning and Survey departments felt that the software did not meet their needs.
    Since I’ve come on I have successfully had all of the departments participating and completing pilot projects in C3D 2008 and by the end of the year will have completely migrated the company away from LDT for all new projects, although some legacy projects will linger for a while.
    Intersting statistics you have. If you start in April when I showed up here, I will have used about 35 hours of training and troubleshooting with our reseller. For our company of around 50 cad users, your chart is pretty accurate.

  2. Doug Wietbrock says:

    Mark, your preliminary findings are fascinating, but not especially surprising to me. I believe it has less to do with the software (and, I would argue, the size of the firm or outside resources) and more to do with the firm’s commitment to the change and access to expertise. Civil 3D Implementation = Big Change! We see similar findings in architectural firms with Revit implementations and manufacturing firms with Inventor and/or Vault implementations.

    In our own experiences, there seems to be three primary factors for (accelerated) success with Civil 3D/Revit/Inventor. First, an educated and committed ownership/management is crucial. The principals understand the software’s value proposition – even if they don’t know how to use the software, it’s business justifications and the cultural/workflow changes necessary for success. Tepid support from the CXO level almost always slows or dooms the implementation. Second, the necessary resources to implement successfully. That means time, money and knowledge. Implementations can be sidetracked easily when deadlines approach, when Project Managers become concerned over billable hours or when no one in the firm has the skills needed to plan, prepare and execute properly. The knowledge needed to implement is a rarity today. Few firms are lucky enough to have such expertise in-house. That’s probably why you see a correlation in your study with regards to outside help. It’s about having a guide who “knows the way”. For the next few years, for most firms, that probably means retaining an outside consultant. And third, (this is really an extension of the first and second points) it must be impossible to “fall back” to the old methodologies, processes and software. One of the most successful implementations we’ve ever seen was a mid-size firm (8 design teams) that migrated completely within 4 months. The principals were totally committed to the change. The employees were excited and motivated about the change. The resources were budgeted and in place. They “turned off” the old software as each team went through training. There was no turning back. They now have a serious competitive advantage in their market and are very pleased. It’s worth noting that, when they run into a limitation of the software, they ask “what’s the best workaround?” rather than “when will that feature be added?”.

    As for your study’s correlation between firm size, outside resources and implementation speed, I suspect larger firms have a more formalized decison making process. It requires Factors 1, 2 & 3 to obtain the needed approvals without endangering your career. In our experience, smaller firms often “take a shot” at implementing on their own, relying upon the CAD Manager to figure it all out. When they run into problems they drop back. We’ve only seen one firm that successfully implemented Civil 3D without outside help. But they cheated – they hired a tech from an Autodesk VAR! Implementing Civil 3D (or Revit or Inventor or whatever) is not an upgrade. It’s a serious, and sometimes radical, change to a firm’s operations. But the payoff appears to be worthwhile for those who undertake it properly and successfully. The successful implementations never want to revert to the old methods, processes or software.

    I hope that you will continue your research or that Autodesk will undertake a broader study. Thanks for doing this and thanks for sharing it.

  3. Doug and John,

    thanks for the feedback. I especially agree that the issue of management support is the number one factor in success/failure. The close second is user support. My posting ( from April outlines other hurdles. I’m going to go back and gather info from as many clients as I can and see if the trend persists.