Success in CAD outsourcing depends on some obvious and some not-so-obvious factors. Here are the core concepts:
A. Are you and the CAD drafting provider good communicators?
1. The provider should understand your language and vice-versa
2. Each of you should respond to the other’s messages within one day
3. The provider should have tools for online screen sharing (like GoToMeeting)
4. The provider should be available during some or all of your business hours
5. The provider should not hesitate to pick up the phone and call you
6. The provider should send you presents (from Amazon.com, say) for Christmas and New Year to show he cares
7. You and the provider should communicate by voice at least once in 14 days
B. Does the provider have the technical skill you need?
8. Ask for samples of CAD drafting work done with your preferred CAD draftig program (AutoCAD, Microstation, etc.)
9. Give the provider sample CAD files to capture your layering and other styles from. Then give him a simple trial assignment, which he can do for you at reduced or no cost. Look for prompt delivery and very few errors in the output.
10. If your drawings require unusual knowledge, like developing sheet metal surfaces for bending and welding, you will have to train the provider if you feel he is a good bet. Do this by giving three or four progressively difficult assignments with plenty of one-on-one instructional discussion between them. Look for eagerness to learn and fast uptake of the information
C. Do you have the time to manage your outsourcing project?
11. The provider needs guidance and supervision just like an in-house CAD drafter, albeit not as much, because a competent provider will have skilled technical managers supervising their CAD drafters. You should need to only communicate with these managers, which involves far less time than communicating with individual CAD drafters. Do you have available hours for this?
12. What you have to understand is that in the early stages of getting a particular provider on board, extra time must be spent (on a once-only basis) for explaining your layers, dimensioning, drafting symbols and other style-related subjects. Are you willing to do this?
D. Are you looking for value for money?
13. Just like everywhere else, beware of cut-rate providers … they are unlikely to have managerial resources, backup drafters, backup power generators, screen sharing tools, large email boxes and specialized hardware like plotters and high-speed processors
E. Does the provider get better with time?
14. Over time, the provider should be able to create your CAD drawings with hardly any questions and with very few errors
15. At some point the provider should offer you a bonus in cash or kind
F. Have you visited the provider in person?
16. This, of course, depends on your budget, since it is by no means inexpensive to journey to Rumania or India. Once there, you should check for multiple CAD drafters, meet the key people, and try to verify all the resources the vendor claimed in email exchanges.
These are the 16 guidelines… please keep them in mind when attempting to outsource CAD drafting. The chance of your success will be an order of magnitude greater than if you went in without any knowledge of the subject. Good luck!