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Project data & BIM
About BIM-based management of attributes, schedules, templates, favorites, hotlinks, projects in general, quality assurance, etc.

New office: Teaching / Transition from Autocad to Archicad ...

Not applicable
Hi everyone,

I just took a BIM Manager post in a new office. Two of my most important tasks right now is to complete/improve the office template file and support/teach architects on Archicad. BIM coordination as we know it will come in a couple of months.

Contrary to the scenario I have encountered in the past, this team has very different level of experience with Archicad. Some have none at all and are still working in Autocad.

The challenge:
- Around 15 architects with none to some proficiency
- about 5 projets already in Archicad with a template that needs a lot of work still, in things as simple as pen sets (which is quite messy right now), etc.
- A couple of projets starting soon thus the need of a good template.

I am having a hard time to decide how to propose training sessions because it's impossible to ask everyone to be present at the same sessions for hours in a row.

I am thinking of proposing at least this, to start from:

- All sessions to be recorded so those who cannot attend can see at their due time;

- One "mandatory" course of about 4-6 hours to teach best practices of modeling, work environment, essencial tools and Teamwork projet best practices; (If not mandatory, have at least one person from each projet team).

- After this first session, I would be attending to specific needs of each team but always on the lookout to find themes that are important enough that should be treated as a scheduled session open to all that want / need to join and be recorded.

-Obviously after this first push, regular thematic sessions will be proposed for more advanced tools, tips, sharing of experiences etc.

-Regarding the template: I would like to start on it right away because some new projets are coming in.

- For projets that are already in Archicad : import things as needed from the new template if possible and/or adapt the existing file.

I just finished my first week and I talked to one or two people of each team and have a somewhat blurry idea of proficiency and where they are at with the models (for those already started). By the way, the most advanced projets already in Archicad are in what I would consider schematic or design development phase. One projet that the office wants to transition from Autocad to Archicad is starting construction documentation: basically they are going from 1:100 plans to 1:50.

Anyway I hope I gave a decent idea of the challenge and what I have thought about doing this far - which I feel is far from being a solid plan. I am sure some of you have gone thru this kind of scenario and I would appreciate any tips, help, book on projet management, that might help.

Thank you.

Take a look to my template. It can give you good boost.

Also here are CAD BIM standards. You can add yours country too (which one?)

As about video lessons. Not necessary to do everything on video - sometimes people get tired. Also it's a challenge sometimes to record good video - some can just get nasty and go wrong (and then needed to be recorded again). Don't turn yourself into Hollywood. You can issue static PDF with screenshots too. Sometimes it's better. You also can establish some virtual place for communication. That can be even closed group in some social network, where lessons can be translated and problems highlighted. It can be Facebook or group in Whatsup or any another messenger.

Use a lot of examples from the office projects. And try to achieve as high level of local CAD standards as possible. Then you will get less problems with engineers and external consulting.
Wish more offices were that patient. In my country you can still find cases were the boss is like hey guys! i bought this new software, i want you all know it by monday, thx, have a good weekend!

Truth be told, i think is very important that everyone achieves at least the necesary proficiency for what they do within the project and you have to sell them the software because you will find resistance, specially from the more advanced Autocad users. I agree with Mr. Podolsky, you making videos would be an extreme waste of time which you should use to develope your template, while your coworkers practices using already made material you can find on youtube or Linkedin Learning (formerly known as while you serving as a guide. An introductory course of your part of 2-3 hours would be nice to get everyone on the same channel.

for the people with zero experience i also suggest the youtube Channel LearningArchicad, which have a very nice example of modeling the farnsworth house from zero to finish, and it takes about 6 hours worth of video, but it is in spanish, still worth checking out). Of course, i always recommend to read Eric Bobrow and Shoegnomes material, and of course, the Read Us section of site.

Once the template is set, then the real action begins

good luck!
Building your own template and find out the best way for office to perform usually takes about 3 years. Minimum. So, prepare and don't be too optimistic that you can do it better and faster then anyone else.
I was developing mine at least six years. Not in big rush, but just solving problems as soon as they appear.
Can use mine as a ready solution instead of rediscover the same in one or two years.

I don't know about Bobrow. Sometimes he was giving good hints, but his orientation of drawings - small USA residentials. And also sometimes too messy. I've seen some architects who bought from him templates. I wasn't really impressed about it. The best part there was a price.

Shoegnome is developing his template for anyone use. I didn't look in details because it's North America, but now, because I have decided to build my own USA template - I might try contact him and share part of my development with him (I.e for everyone).

I still don't know in which country you are. Here I uploaded USA NCS layers:
There is interesting video about teaching students.

Teaching is actually can be complicated task. Students have different characters and also sometimes they simply misbehave - don't want to listen of follow instructions, argue, want to do it their own way.
They also often can misuse your position - by using you as every moment explanator and problems solver. I had experience serving 50 people - answering their questions every moment, fixing their errors and jumping from table to table all day long. People were happy about quality of my support, but not me - because then I needed to stay in the office till midnight and coming at weekend and work on my technical tasks. I finally lost my sleep.
So I would recommend you to look at that from the first beginning. Your students will always prefer to ask question instead of searching for the answer in manuals.
Office must set quite strict rules for everyone and provide initial CAD manual that explains office standard simple and understandable manner. It's needs to be not too long and most important problems solving manual (compare with ArchiCAD manual that today has 4400 pages - who will read it?).
Never let people to use different drafting styles. Anyone must model and annotate the drawings the same way, that if the project is moving from one group of designers to another, they wouldn't start scratch their heads trying to figure out how the file was managed. Also if new person is coming, who knows ArchiCAD well and knows drafting standards - it shouldn't for him be total surprise that office is using software completely different manner.
These common rules of using software must be on the level of working contract. If person is twisting standards - then this not what he was asked to do in this office and for what he is getting paid.
Some users like to take part of template development - just because they can be creative or just show up their personalities. You need to be careful in such situations - maybe someone is proposing good thing. Or maybe someone just think he is the most clever person on the planet.
Also never go this direction - someone looked 5 minutes on software feature, decided it's not working and everybody believed him. People like to create sometimes silly mythology about computers. Check every aspect of workflow and don't give up until solution found. If you need to spend 3 weeks - spent 3 weeks, never say - I was sitting with this problem for 3 hours, there is no solution - we will do it totally different or will not do it at all.
Try to follow main workflow proposed by Graphisoft. Because otherwise you can create some solution that might contradict with ArchiCAD functionality in current or maybe upcoming versions.
Check use of another software. Often architects like to use excel spreadsheets for drawings registers and schedules. And because spreadsheets might be totally disconnected from BIM model - they can contain errors - wrong names of drawings and wrong ID, mistakes in quantities... If use of spreadsheets in necessary - try to wind ways of passing data to Excel from ArchiCAD - for example exporting schedules as excel files or using Pyton scripts.
Try to introduce to architects free software for secondary tasks - for example you can use GIMP instead of Photoshop and Blender instead of 3DS Max. This way you can save company money.
I've seen some companies, where users and BIM managers were like small children in supermarket - please buy this and this and we need to buy also this... These companies then ending up having many different software they bought but not using properly anything.
Control use of add-ons and libraries. Users can create unbelievable mess with these two things. It's better not to let users to install anything on their own. All new add-ons needed to be tested by you and BIM manager first. The same about BIM objects libraries. Better to test and install libraries from there before then give people to get anything they want. BIM objects position themselves as the best solution in the world, but it's not always the true - sometimes their product is not as good as it could be.

I hope these instructions will help you too.
Not applicable
Hi everyone,

Thank you for your feedback. So far we did a 4 hour session touching the basic good practices of getting things organized, modelled etc. I have been working on the template and helping on a projet to projet base.
You probably know this already, but just in case: out of 15 architects,
- 8 will mostly be concerned that any change in procedures with the cloudy promise of future heavenly delights threatens their current earthly and very tangible deadlines, will go with the flow because it would be suicidal to go against the flow, but will always resort to their tried and true methods when they need to deliver;
- 4 will be thinking that Archicad looks cool but they don't have the time;
- 3, most likely not among the most experienced architects, will be excited about the change, google and look at videos and do exercises at home, etc.
Make sure there is one of these enthusiastic learners on each project team, as a first line of battle —that each project has an assigned BIM model manager that is not you.
A lot of the work is 2D, annotating, dimensioning, moving things around, and that is easy for an Autocad user. I would say it is these, and accurate drafting (which is a usual problem in the 2D world, but a killer in BIM) that should be the main learning points for the other 12. With that the project architect can always develop an accurate plan or elevation sketch with lines and fills (on worksheets, usable for trace-reference, etc.), and then turn it over to the modeler; over time he will be moving naturally into more and more modeling. You don't want an army of sloppy modelers, and have to run around redoing every model for BIM to work.
Not applicable
Thanks Ignacio for what I consider a realistic imput. I have delt with these challenges in the past and I have felt real hard resistance.

Some of the projects will probably continue in 2D, independently of what I can advise. They had already started on 2D and feel like they should continue. Two projects are historical buildings that they had carefully surveyed and I admit even for me look scary to model in Archicad because I have never modeled historic building with complex walls, windows, facade stone work etc.
Right now I am working on the template taking in to account what they already figured out correctly in the current template. A new project will start in august with the new template.
Erwin Edel
Thinking back 15 years to when I started with AC9 at our office and they had just started to use AC seriously for about a year: we would patch up a lot of things in sections / elevations with fills and lines to fix problems we found too tricky to fix in 3D. Once everyone got more proficient we slowly moved to only having 2D annotations and having a 3D model which can deliver 2D output up to scale 1:50. We do not generally deliver 1:20 output and all our details (1:5 or 1:10) are 2D stand alone views (no link to the model).

I did not receive any training. It took me easily 2 years to get reasonably proficient with the program. I can't imagine how many billable hours could've been saved if I had just been sent to the the 3-5 day training program from our reseller.

Get good training so you can hit the ground running. The GS tutorials are OK, but they do not adhere to anywhere close of what our template is like, so if anything they are teaching things that are 'wrong'. There is also very little overlap with actual daily routine and I notice there is a focus on 'flashy' drafting in the 3D window, that is done a lot faster in floorplan or section / elevation (which looks boring I guess?).

Other than that, Ignacio's comment is very on point!
Erwin Edel, Project Lead, Leloup Architecten

Windows 10 Pro
Adobe Design Premium CS5
Not applicable
Thank you Erwin!