Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Review - CADsmart 2 of 3

A few days ago I gave you a brief overview of a software program I found called CADsmart. It is a program that you can download and run within AutoCAD (or Microstation) in order to assess your users’ general CAD skills. It doesn’t test programming skills, nor is it release specific, it only looks at general CAD drafting skills. Knowing what areas your users excel in along with the areas they don’t is very useful. It allows you to train them properly and where they need it.

Last time I gave an overview of what CADsmart can do, generally speaking. Now I want to get more specific.

Before you get started using it and before your users test with it, I recommend that everyone involved watches their online videos which let everyone know what to expect and how it works. This is a nice touch. It helps to relieve some of the stress that people have when they are being assessed, especially if they are taking it as part of a job interview or as a personnel review as an employee. People get nervous and they might not perform as well as they normally do when under pressure, so this feature helps.

Another feature that helps the scores be more accurate is that CADsmart runs within AutoCAD (or Microstation). It would be nice if you didn’t have to have AutoCAD to take the review, but this method does have a nice bonus to it. Since the user (if he/she is a current employee) is taking the assessment in a CAD setting that they are familiar with, they will perform better. They perform better because they are being tested in the same environment that they work in everyday. CADsmart also gives the user the ability to arrange the toolbars, pallets, icons, etc. to their liking before the exercise begins. This also helps interviewees test better in a new and different setting. Everyone involved gets better and more accurate scores.

Ten exercises are taken, each one covering different aspects. These ten topics are: Lines, Sheet Set Up/Xrefs, Circles & Arcs, Text, Blocks/Cells, Dimensions, Layers/Levels, Preferences, UCS/ACS. As you can see, these topics cover the general skills needed to be able to work with CAD software. It also breaks them up enough so that we can see what areas we do well in and in what areas need more training.

In order to take the assessment, the CADsmart software must be downloaded and installed on the testing machine. Once it is installed, log on and begin. If the candidate hasn’t watched the introduction movie yet, they will get the option during the set up phase. Some information about the user will have to be filled out in a form. This helps CADsmart identify who you are. They provide a guarantee that says they won’t give out that information to any third party; only CADsmart, you and your company will have access to that data. Once the form is filled out they can begin the assessment.

Each exercise will provide instructions and a preview of what is to be done. It is up to the candidate to figure out what to do and then do it. Be careful when reading the instructions, just as the video says, because if you don’t follow the instructions and do as you are told, your score will be lower than it could be! Once done, the candidate will receive an e-mail where they can go and find out their score. They will also receive an assessment comparing their score to the benchmark as well as recommendations on what areas to improve. This is one of the reasons they had to fill out all of that personal information, so that CADsmart would know who they are.

CADsmart is a simple to use program that provides valuable CAD skill assessment data and comparison. It is easy for users to test with and easy to set up. It is run in a CAD environment that is familiar to the candidate thus giving more accurate scores and skill assessments.

I’m going to stop again so that our minds won’t melt. In the near future I plan on taking a closer look as to what CADsmart offers the manager. We will look at the tools it provides in skill assessment, charts, data management, the benchmark, how to access the data, etc. We’ll also take a look at what managers can do with the information they just collected.

Happy CADDING

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