The Bim Group

Case Study - AutoCAD drawing and drafting

case study

Background - The Client

In 2005, a Canadian subcontractor based in Calgary, Alberta was experiencing unprecedented growth in their 20th year of business. The construction industry was thriving due to the high price of oil. The subcontractor was involved in both industrial and commercial construction projects, but historically one industry had always been slower than the other.

However, at this time, both industrieswere flourishing, which putanincreased strain on the company’s project managers. The company found its continued growth was not limited due to sales or financing, but as a result of not being able to secure sufficient manpower to facilitate this growth.

Recruiting and retaining staff for positions in all areas of the company was posing to be quite a challenge. As a result, those that were responsible for projects found themselves under increasing strain.

The key concern for the company was the area of AutoCAD drawing and drafting. The local colleges could not produce sufficient numbers of qualified drafters to facilitate the demand, and graduates had pick of the jobs. Starting salaries were excessive for employees with poor attitudes, a lack of for company policies, and a sense of entitlement to their job. This resulted in a high-turnover of employees in this position as it was well known in the industry that drafters, regardless of their work history, would be hired by any employer as soon as they became available.

The scope of work that the Subcontractor was involved in was also a factor. Production Drafting is where designs are provided from other entities such as architects and engineers and combined with proprietary systems to provide specialized drawings for the purpose of approval, fabrication, and installation.
Production drafting was considered to be a ‘lower-level’ of drafting compared with the drafting that was undertaken by architects and engineers, and not especially desirable to most drafters. Those that could not do the high design work were the only ones who wanted to do this type of production drafting, but often lacked the skills to quickly apply the proprietary systems, but definitely did not lack the same sense of entitlement!

This situation increased the workloads on the Project Managers who were spending countless hours correcting errors in drafts that their highly-paid juniors should have completed correctly the first time!

The situation only escalated when the General Manager overheard a Project Manager telling a Draftsperson that he wasn’t happy with the quality of the drawing and the Draftsperson responded saying “Listen, it is not my job to think about what to draw, you show me what to draw, and I will draw it.”

Outraged, the General Manager enquired with the Project Manager as to why he did not fire the Draftsman immediately?

His response was that he needed him to finish that project and three more that had piled up!

The General Manager then took on a personal mission to reduce the burden on his Project Managers and to acquire the resources to do the work.

It was determined that outsourcing was the best option; not to save money, but solely to increase capacity.

A quick internet search found many possible companies; most being dedicated to paper to CADD-type of work. Over the next 12 months, 10 different companies were provided with trial projects each producing different results with the majority struggling with the type of drafting required due to the different construction systems used in North America.

Four companies were brought on board to complete a sample of paid projects. One company eliminated due to quality issues. A second company was used for a while, however, over time the quoted prices increased while the quality of service and finished product diminished. The third company produced high-quality drawings, but required a guaranteed number of hours per month before it would continue. The forth company was a side business of an architectural firm, and declined to continue, as it was at capacity already.

Other concerns included:

  • Outsourcing intellectual property and core capacity was deemed risky.
  • A company could continue to raise prices but lower quality of output. To mitigate this risk, we would have to maintain multiple outsourcing companies, so that leaving one would not leave you without drafting services altogether.
  • Indian companies have a high level of bureaucracy.
  • Lack of control of the company that is undertaking the work and/or an overall feeling that you are not receiving value for your money.

Ultimately, what the Subcontractor really needed was employees, regardless of where in the world they were located; people that were invested in what they were doing and cared about the quality of work they were putting out.

The business partner of a personal acquaintance of the General Manager had recently relocated from the UK to the city of Pune, India. He agreed to hire personnel in India and bill the Subcontractor for the cost of the resources to do the work on a trial basis.

The trial was a huge success!

The skill and attitude of the hired personnel far exceeded the General Manager’s expectations.

The personnel enjoyed the type of work they were doing, they actually wanted to do it, and were motivated to get better at it!

This trail was completed all for the cost of five computers, the required software, and salaries for the Team.To accommodate time differences, the initial Team was required to work night shifts. However, as work increased a day shift was introduced.

With the success of the trial, and the on-going success of the Team formed, it was soon decided that a new company should be formed – which currently exists today as The BIM Group.