Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Review - CADsmart

CAD-a-Blog is about teaching CAD skills, especially AutoCAD skills. With that in mind, I try to keep my eyes open for products or services that can help users (and me too!) better themselves. I feel that I have found such a product.

Consider this scenario; imagine that you need to hire a new CAD user for your company. How do you know if that user can in fact use CAD? How do you know the extent of his or her skills?

Also consider this; how can you measure the CAD skills of your current users?

Well I have come across a product that comes from the United Kingdom. It is from CADsmart.
CADsmart is a company that provides testing software that measures general AutoCAD (and Microstation) skills in users. It has the ability to measure CAD drafting skills, not programming, not customizations, but CAD skills. In a nutshell, the user takes a series of drafting based assessments, each one covering a specific topic. The results are compared to a benchmark that has been developed by CADsmart from thousands of users that have taken the same or similar assessments. The user is scored individually and in comparison to other users. For example, one segments score could state that you scored an 80%. That means that you were 80% correct. Now compare that score to the benchmark and you will have a means to measure your abilities relative to the thousands of users that have already taken the assessment. This software gives you a score for the user and tells you if it is a good score or not.

CADsmart’s benchmark is meant to represent the average user. If you score above that, then you should be a good CAD user. If you score below the benchmark, then there might be some areas for training. The assessments are scored separately on overall accuracy and time taken. These two measurements can be compared to the benchmark or to other employees in your company.

CADsmart’s assessments cover specific topics. Each one consists of a series of steps that the user must complete. It doesn’t matter how the user gets the work done, or how long it takes, only that the end results are what they need to be. This is one of the main reasons that I like this software because every user will work in a slightly different way and what matters is the final drawing, not so much as how it was drawn. I said that time doesn’t matter, well it doesn’t affect the accuracy score, but it is measured and compared to the benchmark. So keep it in mind that you need to be both accurate and quick, just like in real life!

Each category has its own benchmark that you can compare your score with. This is very useful because it provides a means of determining where your specific problems are. This feature is great for managers too because it enables them to find specific problem areas in their users so that they can concentrate their training programs exactly where they are needed. Time and resources are not wasted training the wrong people in the wrong skill sets.

CADsmart is not perfect. It is not cost productive for a single user to buy the software and use it on themselves, though this can be done. It works best in a group environment. You also have to have AutoCAD software on your machine in order to run it. One other thing that I understand, but didn’t like too much, is that while taking the test, I can’t pause it in case my attention is needed elsewhere (That happened to me while I was taking the test. I got a low score in the dimension portion because of it-maybe I’m just bitter!) Playing devil’s advocate, if I could pause the assessment, then I could stop it, figure out the task, then start again. That’s cheating, so I understand the reason behind it, but I want it anyway!!

That’s the gist of it. I don’t want to overload you with information, so I am going to write about CADsmart in smaller bite size parts like this. Check out their website, read about them, and let me know what you think. Later I’m going to get more into the workings of it, what it has to offer managers in terms of assessment tools, charts, and recommendations. CADsmart will test the user, show the assessment data, and provide recommendations on what areas to train the specific users in. It is a very helpful tool in my opinion.

Happy CADDING!

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