You are wasting your money on AutoCAD Civil 3D

In this post I”m going to share with you some of my knowledge, experience and points of view about Civil 3D. I’m not going to sugar coat the facts, or try to avoid the touchy subjects, nor am I going to misguide you in any way. I do not sell software or work for a company that does, so this gives me the freedom to write the truth or the dirt if you will. At the very same time I will say that I love C3D and feel it is the best Civil Engineering software solution available. I have devoted over 10,000 hours working, learning and training on this product and most of the time it has served me well! So here are a few of the most common and costly mistakes that firms are making with their C3D software purchase and use.

AutoCAD Civil 3D is a 3D modeling and Civil design software! That’s right, it is not a drafting tool and is not meant to be used by drafters. If you have drafters using C3D you are wasting your money on the software, the drafters should be using plain AutoCAD. C3D is meant to be used to design, drafting is somewhat automated when using C3D correctly, the designers, engineers, EITs should be using this software to design. If you are printing drawings for someone, for them to red-line to do the design work, you are wasting your money.

Not every CAD user can use C3D! It is true. I’ve worked with users who have been using AutoCAD as long as myself or even longer who are never going to be able to use C3D, at least not to its fullest. So find out who and more importantly who cannot get a grasp on this software, or at least their limitations. That way you will not waste money on them doing task in C3D that could be done be someone else cheaper. Now I’ve also seen C3D turn drafters into designers, practicaly overnight! And at times I have had students fresh out of college that seem to get it right away, faster than the LDD users that have been using that software for years. You don’t have to relearn as much if you have never learned it in the first place.

You need computers that meet at least the minimum specifications for running C3D. This should be considered before you purchase the software. If not than software crashes will waste your money. In nearly ever case that I have evaluated because of daily, or even hourly C3D crashes, a computer upgrade would reduce, even eliminate this problem. Even after spending money on the upgrade, the companies were still spending less than they were losing from each and every crash. I’ve seen 1500% return on computer upgrading investments during the first year alone. Keep in mind a 3 year old computer, is out of date, no matter how good it was when you bought it. Do the math; CAD user hourly billable rate, they lose 15min on each crash, lose 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. How much is that? Times that by 52 weeks. How much is that? Let me know if you want me to order the computers for you! Here’s a link.

Your entire staff of users will need training and ongoing support, or you are wasting your money. C3D is a very powerful tool, but without knowledge of how to use this or any tool, then the tool is not so powerful. C3D is loaded with commands and functions, as with Map 3D and AutoCAD. In Civil 3D we have all 3 software platforms built into one, that is way more than most people can learn and remember. The old thinking of “my staff learned AutoCAD or Land Desktop on their own, they can learn this program as well”, this is wrong. Now there are some exceptions to this, but there are very few. Over time someone can teach themselves this software if the are very devoted, a quick learner, or just have a knack for this sort of stuff. But during the same year they could have become an advanced user instead of just another half-user, which is what most people were that used Land Desktop or softdesk. So get them trained and get them some ongoing support. If not you are wasting your money, and time.

C3D is over-priced! Yes I said it, because it is. There are a countless number of firms that can only swing the purchase of the software. Not the computer upgrades, nor the training and support. These firms may not even have found out about all of the additional cost until they had already purchased Civil 3D. My point of view, and I know it is getting out of date with the dropping price of computers today, but my thought is this “the software we use should not cost more than the computer we use it on”! Especially when it leaves software purchasers without funding to actually get their staff using the software.

Every firm that implements C3D needs an expert or C3D specialist on staff. This is a somewhat unlikely option for most firms. However over the past few years there have been a lot more people getting a grasp on how to use C3D. Many of them have found themselves without a job, you may be able to find one of these people, but even they need ongoing support from a C3D couch or guide.

So you may be wondering what is the real solution to this dilemma? Other than to keep throwing money at it. The answer, contact me. If you have ever had any trouble with C3D, or you are planning to move to this software in the future, contact me. I can offer services and training that no other company offers, and I can advice you without having to tip toe around the truth, because I don’t sell the software.

Now I can not help you with the upgrade of your computers, well I can suggest what you need, or even order it for you, but I can’t tell you where to get the money from. What I can do is offer my guidance, at a very, very low rate! I’m now offering phone, email and remote support for AutoCAD & C3D users at the amazingly low rate of $99 per year. There are only a limited number of clients that this service will be available to, so contact me today.

Visit the Cadtechs website for more information.


About Civil3Dguide

Creator and author of Autodesk Users Group International’s (AUGI) Hotnews column “The Civil Side,” author in AEC/Edge magazine and is a Civil Engineering forum moderator for the AUGI organization. Christian Barrett (a.k.a. Civil3Dguide) is an Civil Applications Specialist Has over 20 years in the AEC industries and over 11 years of Civil and Surveying industry experience as a CAD designer using Land Desktop & Civil 3D, and has been a CAD Coordinator at Multi-disciplinary Engineering/Architectural Firms. As a civil applications technical support and trainer, Christian has guided many engineering firms in the implementation of Civil 3D for design and CAD management, National CAD Standards, and Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows.

Posted on April 25, 2011, in Civil 3D and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Don’t you need C3D in order to propoerly view entities created in C3D? I’ve creted profiles and such in C3D and opened them in regular ACAD (both 2011) and everything that had been done in C3D did not show up in ACAD.

  2. From my experience, I have to disagree that CAD techs don’t need C3D. Having to export to autocad for them to minipulate C3D objects while cleaning up a dwg, just doesn’t provide a reasonable workflow.

  3. Wes, I would disagree with myself as well. I would really disagree if I thought that the only way for an AutoCAD user to work with a C3D drawing was to export it. That workflow would not work well at all, you are correct, but that is not the way to go about it. I wouldn’t have (what I consider) a drafter manipulating C3D objects, that would be asking for trouble.
    It may just be the terminological that we are seeing differently. I don’t view a drafter and a CAD tech. as the same position. When I think drafter, I picture someone who can only create lines, curves and text objects, etc… and does not have the ability to design anything other than what has been red-lined on a plot.
    I would much rather have everyone in C3D as well, the point was that it was a waste of money, if the user was creating only ACAD objects, than why spend a couple thousand more on their seat of CAD? Spend that money on training, or a new computer, or not at all.
    A medium-large firm may not be that worried about the cost, but a small firm that squeezes the money together to purchase the software and then claims not to have money for training and yet they have just purchased a seat of C3D for a red-liner, that money should have been redirected elsewhere, as they are not going to get the same return on that investment.

  4. I disagree with the general point of view. In my personal experiences as a Civil Designer, I use Civil 3D on a daily basis for everything, from full Cost Analysis, to Quantity Take-offs, Stormwater Design with Hydraflow, to keeping the overall workflow of onging project dynamic for various users who may be involved throuout the process. These users may be Civil Designers, or they may be EIT’s. However, from my experiences, there are few EIT’s who can navigate Civil 3D as swiftly and smoothly as the Civil Designers I work with on a daily basis. The EIT’s have other work they are involved with, more or less permitting and QA/QC. As a general rule, most successful companies don’t want there skilled EIT’s and PE’s sitting in front of the computer all day long, as it is not budget friendly.

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