Take Charge of Your C3D Rollout

As of today we are up to 303 Civil 3D projects in Vault, company wide, and we just passed our one-year hallmark of our Civil 3D rollout.2009.12.16-Vault count



1. How many projects does your company have in Civil 3D?


2. How many years (or months) has your company been using Civil 3D on real world projects?



Leave a comment below…

If you are floundering with your rollout, here are a couple of key things we did that I think really helped.

1. Of course, as every reseller will tell you, the first thing you need to even get started is UPPER management support.


At a smaller firm, or even mid-size firm, this means meeting with the President him or her self to talk about Civil 3D, what it WILL do for their company, and the low cost rollout approach you have developed.

Low cost rollout plan:  Yes, it is possible.  Also, when I say low cost I don’t mean $0.00 to the company, lets not be silly.  That is not possible for any software change. What I do mean is really thinking about cost and how you can reduce it as much as possible.  For instance, did you know – at least in PA – you can get a state grant to pay for reseller training?  What we did is get that grant (just an application and some other paperwork), have 10 people trained (“the Civil 3D Pilot Team”) at a 6-day course by our reseller and then those folks got started using Civil 3D on various small projects right away.  There was $0.00 of hard expense to the company.  Only training down-time for those 10 folks and of course some time charged to our training overhead number while working on the projects.  That said, a majority of the time while working on the projects was productive and was billed.

The team:  The selection of these folks is critical.  They need to be can-do people that really want to use Civil 3D at the company and make it work.  It must also be a diverse group of people if you have a diverse range of services that your firm offers.  For us it was a lot of Land Development folks – because LD relies heavily on CAD design software – Transportation, Environmental, and Survey folks.  I hand selected these people with their managers support.

What is support?:  When I say “support” I mean real-world direct visual signs of support.  There were several emails, company wide, from our President showing signs of support and “the importance of this initiative”.  You may need to prompt to make this happen.  Yes, you can ask your companies President for this in a respectful manner, don’t be afraid.

2. Getting your surveyors involved right away.


So, after the 6-day training the Civil 3D Pilot team members used the program for 6-months to learn the does-and-don’ts of Civil 3D, help refine our company template, and also become the “experts” nested throughout the company.  After that, I (one person makes for a consistent message) went around to each office and held a 1 to 3-day “C3D BOOTCAMP” training session.

What is BOOTCAMP?:  A while back my company sent managers, PMs, and APMs (Assistant Project Managers) to a PSMJPM BOOTCAMP” training session.  It was a 2-day intense class on Project Management – you know, not just saying you are managing your projects but actual tools that you can use to forecast projects and SHOW how you are managing them to make sure they stay on-track and on-budget.  I was apart of this training and really liked the approach.  The first thing they told us was that “the next few days are not going to be some cushy training.  There are going to be intense, focused training, to give you the basic PM skills to successfully manage your projects”.  So I applied this same concept to Civil 3D and stole the title a little; hence “C3D BOOTCAMP”.

To get the class started I first relayed the same message: “BOOTCAMP”  –> …short intensive program…  …recruits are trained in the basic skills of their service…

At BOOTCAMP we taught folks what the Prospector was in C3D, how Vault worked, how objects were in the drawing, how to label stuff, etc…  – that was Day 1 for the “viewer”. Folks who open cad files just to look at them; PMs basically.  After that they when back to work and drafters & designers stayed. – [really it was only a 1/2 day for PMs and they left but I don’t want to get into too much detail.]

Day 2 we taught how to create Parcels, Alignments, Profiles, how to Xref and build a project through Vault, more on labeling, etc… – you know, pretty basic skills for using Civil 3D.  Stuff you need to know to function and create things.  After that the drafters went back to work.

Day 3 we taught grading with Featurelines, that you always explode Grading Objects, how to build a Corridor Model, what are Assembiles vs. Subassembiles, what makes up a Subassembly, ect… – you know, the heavy lifting.  At this point the class was down to Senior CAD Technicians and Engineers. 

OK, so how does this relate to Survey?  Well, they are the first to be trained.  In fact, there was an extra one-day custom training session just for them; Survey Training.  I think this is key because they are typically the first ones to get the REAL projects started!  What better way to keep design personnel on track with using Civil 3D after training then to have projects already started in Civil 3D.  So with survey management support there was a directive in survey that ALL NEW PROJECTS WERE TO BE CREATED IN CIVIL 3D!  This got the ball rolling and for me it was easy to get our survey’s support since C3D had enhancements in survey functionality over LDT and they loved the security and accountability that Vault provided – “if anyone would mess with their base files or points they would know.”

Again, with BOOTCAMP there was no hard expense.  Only my time which was also picked-up by a second state grant we applied for, and received, and trainees downtime (trainees down time was not covered by the grant).

3. Continue the training after leaving on-site training.


I think this was a key follow-through piece that we did that really helped with Civil 3D at my company and made it work.  If you think about it, you will never really learn Civil 3D in 3, 6, 12, or 30 days of on-site training.  You are always learning Civil 3D as you use it for real world, everyday, projects.  So how we broke it down was that BOOTCAMP was function based training and after that we held a webinar over lunch (cost savings) every-other week on work-flow based training.  We called this training “C3D UNIVERSITY” and had a big sign of management support for folks to attend.  In addition, it counted toward their “Professional Skill Development” as apart of their annual review.  Something that has always been around at my company.

C3D UNIVERSITY helped to address questions folks still had.  For example, “I know how to build a Corridor Model, but how do we do an overlay and widening project in Civil 3D?”  So this is where C3D UNIVERSITY kicked-in.  We went through how to accomplish a road rehab project, how to grade out a commercial site, how to import a pipe network into Hydraflow – design it – and take it back into C3D, etc…  In all there were 16 classes that went from March 2009 to October 2009 and covered tasks required for each service group.  There was no down time and only the time it took me to prep. for each class (~4-hrs per class – thinking about it now we should have applied for a third state grant for that time too, oh well).

So you might think this is all well and good if your company had a CAD Manager, but wait, we just laid-off that person.  You don’t need to be a CAD Manager.  If you are reading this YOU ARE THE PERSON!  Really, to pull this off you need leadership and project management skills.  It is a project just like anything else.  The only difference is you are billing the company and not a client (really the state  😉 ).  It has helped my career as a Project Engineer, brought me insights on how my company really works, how to work with different management levels, how to manage people, and how to react to the different ways people accept change.  If you are hesitant to take charge, look at this as an opportunity to advance your career and standing at your company.  Trust me, it works!  I’m now the youngest Associate at my company.  Really the title of this post should be "How to use Civil 3D to Advance Your Career and Company Standing".

If you need advice or want to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Also see: Free Training; Free Tech Support; Free Video Classes.  If available when we started our rollout I would have definitely taken advantage of this offering.

Thanks, and I hope this helps…


  1. Mark Jung says:

    Thank You for the very informative article! I’m hoping to implement these tips as we continue our rollout. We have 5 different offices and our office has been the early adopters of C3D. We currently have 30+ projects that have used or are using C3D from the past year and a half. 2 other offices have been using on a regular basis and the last 2 are hopeful with some more training. (this is where some of you tips come in :-))

    Thanks again for the article!

  2. I’m glad it helped! 🙂

    Also make sure you have the proper PCs in place before you really get rolling. Just meeting the MINIMUM – key word being ‘minimum’ – spec. doesn’t always cut it.

    I relate Civil 3D to PC video games for minimum spec. You can run the game meeting the minimum spec. but it doesn’t run all that well. If you have XP PCs that don’t work with the 3GB switch just count them as NOT being a Civil 3D machine OR upgrade to Windows 7.

  3. My husband would fall in love this blog post. We were not too long ago talking about this. lol

  4. Excellent post, how can I subscribe to this?